Radiohead, "High And Dry"

>> Sunday, April 15, 2012

So Thom Yorke hates it, but so what? This is the thing about art and artists, is a lot of the time you're too close to what you've wrought to get it, you have this hideous myopia and can't really see what's in front of your nose. "High And Dry" isn't just one of Radiohead's most "accessible" songs, it's also just simply one of their prettiest and a fine example of that era in which Radiohead were the finest purveyors of post-modern angst in pop music since Pink Floyd released Animals in 1977.

It's the kind of song, actually, I think most people these days probably wish Radiohead would go back to recording. It's not that anyone really wants a band that's generally seen on the bleeding edge to get all retro--I don't mean that anyone wants a retread of The Bends: I mean, I think most of us would like Radiohead to go back to writing songs with guitars and hooks and relatively comprehensible lyrics, instead of the blippity-bloopity and shreds-of-consciousness stuff that's seemed increasingly like a rut over the last few records. You guys have discovered electronic German music, we get it, we get it, we get it already.

The Bends wasn't the first Radiohead album I bought, it was maybe the second. And no, I wasn't one of the people who ran out and bought Pablo Honey when "Creep" was saturating the radio; matter-of-fact, I remember someone in college playing me the album version and correctly pointing out the way the non-bowdlerized rendition was a completely different song from the okay-but-not-great radio tune ("You're so special, I wish I was special," Yorke sings in the radio version, as opposed to, "You're so fucking special, I wish I was special," a one-word change that turns something whiny and emo into something viciously sarcastic and acidly self-loathing). No, I came into Radiohead via their third album, OK Computer, and wasn't that a piece of pinkfloydian bleakness however much Radiohead resented and resisted that comparison? Computer (I'd figure this out later, after I went back and got The Bends) delivered on the promise (or betrayal) of middle-class martyrdom and trying to keep one's face above the water suggested by "High And Dry" and "Fake Plastic Trees" and "Street Spirit (Fade Out)". Consciously or accidentally mid-'90s Radiohead picked up where Messrs. Gilmour and Waters had left off with, "...found dead on the phone, dragged down by the stone."

Good times, all the bleakness and aimless anger? Well it's always good to know you're not alone in your troubles.


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