I’ve heard some of the most eloquent, heart-felt stories about Radiohead – how they helped so many of you through a rough time, how you met your husband or wife or life partner because of them, how they inspired you to change course and move in a new direction.
But what I haven’t heard is how the music itself changed you. Not how it made you feel, but how it made you think. What do I mean by that? Well, one example would be: listening to “Creep” changed my perception of music—it was the first time I’d ever heard a band be so personal and confessional in their lyrics.
My question to you is: How did Radiohead change your way of thinking? How did they alter your perspective on music? (And let’s not limit this to just music—maybe they got you thinking about something else entirely.)
I remember the first time I heard Radiohead. It was around 2011, and I was into metal music (which I still like, I just don’t see myself in that world). A friend of mine was really into them, so I decided to check out their most recent album at the time, The King Of Limbs. My favorite song on that album immediately was Morning Mr Magpie because it had swagger and style unlike any other song I’d ever heard at that time. That album boosted my curiosity about this band and made me realize there was beauty in soft styles of music as well.
I instantly bought used copies of Kid A when I discovered the band. Upon receiving the CD, I turned off all the lights and my mind became immersed in the world around me through this band’s music for an hour. The vocals and every note resonated with me as if understanding every word and note that was being played. I felt as though I was being painted a picture of worlds through this music, and this particular album stands its own totally alone, in my opinion. It took no comparisons to other artists’ albums or music – it felt detached from reality yet captivating at the same time; the words made total sense to me. I fell into Motion Picture Soundtrack every time I listened to it and I would find myself wandering in this particular track, as if it were an impossible maze of images…it almost seems otherworldly to me with its perfect timing in all its elements told through music. Kid A is one of those perfect albums that only comes around once or twice a decade, in my honest opinion – truly a masterpiece, but hauntingly beautiful because of its uniqueness from anything else I have ever heard before, just like the rest of their work.
I dove further into their music. I heard “Paranoid Android” play my first time thru OK Computer, and I’m a weirdo who skipped it the first time, so that’s really saying something. I was working in a very full coffee shop and still hearing “Strangely”, which had such a weird feel, and started to get into a “this is some awful, depressing crap — skip it” mood. But then I heard this weird flanger/disharmonization sound come in and as the lyrics began I was like “Mother ship calling…”. Then with each passing lyric (which probably weren’t making sense to me yet) the song just kept getting better.
I remember the first time I heard Thom Yorke sing the lyrics: “I’m amazed that I survived / An airbag saved my life.” The absurdity and profundity of the realization that something as trivial as an airbag is the only thing keeping you from death but also the paranoia of a society that has come to DEPEND on these technologies. When I hear this song, I can close my eyes and I’m right back in the passenger seat of my mom’s car, headphones on, staring out the window on a chilly, foggy morning on the highway, headed to the first of many painful treatment sessions. “No Surprises” gave me chills and still does, as well as The Tourist.
The amazing thing is that the release of AMSP coincides with my life completely turning around, being done with treatment for a little over 2yrs, working a steady job and living on my own with my gf. I went ahead and sprung the $86 for the Special Edition box since I just recently got into vinyl and am really excited to have a relationship with this album that will last the rest of 2016. I’m not exactly rolling in cash but I’m alive and grateful for all the ways my life has improved so I figured; why not spend a little extra to support a band that gave me so much hope when I had very little?
The amazing thing is, Radiohead’s new album came out today, on September 16th (my birthday!) — and the most amazing thing is that it coincided with my life completely turning around, being done with treatment for a little over 2yrs, working a steady job and living on my own with my gf. So I jumped at the chance to spend a little extra to have something physical I can hold onto when times get tough. It makes me feel at home, like I’m not alone, to have something to come back to after those long days where it feels like nothing goes right.
Radiohead songs fit into a niche in my heart as they are among the most universal forms of music. Their sound is so layered and complex that one song can have an entirely different meaning for each individual listener. We found Radiohead to be truly emblematic of the emergent shift in music consumption. Instead of the throwaway commodification of consumer culture, the band raised the bar on consumption models by closing off their album from download sites, forcing listeners who wanted to own the album to buy it. This sense of ownership and personal investment in something greater than ourselves speaks to what is missing from our relationships with media today. And I believe, for a brief period, Radiohead bridged that connection on a cultural level.
See more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiohead