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Old 04-22-2011, 12:58 PM   #1
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I "heart" Ok Computer

YouTube - Radiohead - Airbag (Live @ Jools Holland 1997)

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Originally titled “An Airbag Saved My Life,” a headline that Thom read in an Automobile Association manual that came in the mail, the song is “about the wonderful, positive emotion you feel when you’ve just failed to have an accident; when you just miss someone and realize how close it was and stop the car and just feel this incredible emotion.” The title is also a play on the 1983 Indeep song “Last night a DJ Saved My Life.”

The song reflects the influence DJ Shadow has had on Radiohead, as the band made the track with a drum loop based on a three-second sample of Phil’s drumming.

Thom in Select: “Has an airbag saved my life? Nah…but I tell you something, every time you have a near accident, instead of just sighing and carrying on, you should pull over, get out of the car and run down the street screaming, ‘I’m BACK! I’m ALIVE! My life has started again today!’. In fact, you should do that every time you get out of a car. We’re just riding on those things – we’re not really in control of them.”

Colin: ‘We wanted it to be like ‘Planet Telex’ off’ The Bends‘ -a start that’s not really anything like the rest of the album. It’s quite dancey. That’s cos Phil’s been attending drum’n'bass nights.’ Phil: ‘I told you, I thought it was a line-dancing evening! It was actually DJ Shadow who inspired it-the way he cuts up beats is amazing.The end result doesn’t really sound like what we were aiming for, but that’s probably a good thing.’

Ed: “It’s about the wonderful, positive emotion you feel when you’ve just failed to have an accident; when you just miss someone and realise how close it was and stop the car and just feel this incredible elation. There’s something joyous about it- life suddenly seems more precious.”
YouTube - Radiohead - Paranoid Android (on Jools Holland, 1997)

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In composing “Paranoid Android”, Radiohead fused together parts from three different songs, each of which had been written by a different member of the band. The idea to combine the pieces into a single track was inspired in part by the format and structure of The Beatles’ “Happiness Is a Warm Gun”. Colin Greenwood admitted the band, in attempting it to see if they could make the disparate elements work together, “felt like irresponsible schoolboys who were doing this … naughty thing, ’cause nobody does a six-and-a-half-minute song with all these changes. It’s ridiculous”. The song was at first intended to be humorous, and took its title from Marvin the Paranoid Android from Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series of books. Yorke has said the title “was chosen as a joke. It was like, ‘Oh, I’m so depressed.’ And I just thought, that’s great. That’s how people would like me to be. And that was the end of writing about anything personal in the song. The rest of the song is not personal at all.” In an early interview, Colin Greenwood described it “just a joke, a laugh, getting wasted together over a couple of evenings and putting some different pieces together”. The band used Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and the work of the Pixies as reference points while writing; yet Ed O’Brien denies they wrote “a ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ for the nineties”, while Jonny Greenwood considers it too tense and simple to rival Queen’s song.

“Paranoid Android” was recorded in actress Jane Seymour’s 15th century mansion (which Yorke was convinced was haunted) near the village of St Catherine, near Bath, Somerset. The first edit was over 14 minutes long and included a long organ interlude performed by Jonny Greenwood. Radiohead played this extended version during a tour with Alanis Morissette in September 1996, but the first ‘known’ version dates back from July 6 at the Rock Werchter Festival (Torhout leg). O’Brien said “when we started playing it live, it was completely hilarious. There was a rave down section and a Hammond organ outro, and we’d be pissing ourselves while we played. We’d bring out the glockenspiel and it would be really, really funny.” Before the song’s first live performance, Yorke informed audiences that “[i]f you can have sex to this one, you’re fucking weird.” He also sarcastically referred to the version of the song played during the tour as “a Pink Floyd cover”. Radiohead were inspired by the editing of The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour (described by Colin Greenwood as “brutal”), to shorten the song to a final six and a half minutes, a process that lead to Jonny Greenwood’s organ section being replaced by a substantially shorter guitar fade out. However, it took the band a year and a half to learn how to play the final version in live performance.

“Paranoid Android” has four distinct sections, each played in standard tuning, and a 4/4 time signature, although several three-bar segments in the second section are played in 7/8 timing. The opening segment is played in the key of G minor with a tempo of 84 BPM, and begins with a mid-tempo acoustic guitar backed by shaken percussion before layered with electric guitar and Yorke’s vocals. The melody of the these opening vocal lines span an octave and a third. The second section is written in the key of A minor and begins about two minutes into the song. Although the second section retains the tempo of the first, it differs rhythmically. Ending the second section is a distorted guitar solo played by Jonny Greenwood, which lasts from 2:43 to 3:33. The third section was written entirely by Jonny Greenwood, and reduces the tempo to 63 BPM and changes key to C minor/D minor. This section uses multi-tracked, choral vocal arrangement and according to Dai Griffiths, a “chord sequence [that ordinarily] would sound seedy, rather like something by the band Portishead”.

The fourth and final section begins at 4:58, and is a coda that resolves to the tempo, key and musical patterns of the second movement. After a second solo, a brief guitar riff is introduced, which Jonny Greenwood says “was something I had floating around for awhile and the song needed a certain burn. It happened to be the right key and the right speed and it fit right in.” The song ends, as does the second section, with a short chromatically descending guitar motif.

“Paranoid Android” is categorised by three distinct moods written in what Yorke referred to as three different states of mind. The song’s lyrics tie in with a number of themes common in OK Computer, including insanity, violence, slogans, and political objection to capitalism. Yorke’s lyrics were based on an unpleasant experience at a Los Angeles bar during which he was surrounded by strangers high on cocaine. In particular, Yorke was frightened by a woman who became violent after someone spilled a drink on her. Yorke characterised the woman as “inhuman”, and said “There was a look in this woman’s eyes that I’d never seen before anywhere. … Couldn’t sleep that night because of it.” The woman inspired the line “kicking squealing Gucci little piggy” in the song’s second section. Yorke, referring to the line “With your opinions, which are of no consequence at all”, said that “Again, that’s just a joke. It’s actually the other way around — it’s actually my opinion that is of no consequence at all.”
YouTube - Radiohead Subterranean Homesick Alien live (high quality)

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Originally called “Uptight,” which is how Jonny referred to it in its early staged, the song pays homage to Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” It deals with alien abduction and stems from two incidents in Thom’s life. The first occured at Abingdon School, when he was assigned an essay question that went something like this: “If you were an alien from another planet arriving on Earth, how would you describe what you saw?” The second incident occurred when Thom was driving down a country road and hit a bird (which he believes was a pheasant). He stepped out of the car and at that moment began thinking about alien abduction.
YouTube - Radiohead Exit Music live (high audio quality)

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While on tour with Alanis Morissette in September of 1996, Radiohead was sent the last half-hour of Baz Luhrmann’s film William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and asked to write a song for the closing credits. Band members were impressed by the clip, and Thom wrote this song for the movie. At first he attempted to use lines from Shakespeare’s play as lyrics, but finally ditched the idea.

The moment in the film when Claire Danes (Juliet) holds a Colt 45 to her head was the actual inspiration for “Exit Music.” Thom also had the 1968 version of the film in his head: “I saw the Zeffirelli version when I was 13 and I cried my eyes out, because I couldn’t understand why, the morning after they shagged, they didn’t just run away. The song is written for two people who should run away before all the bad stuff starts. A personal song.”
YouTube - Radiohead - Let Down

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This track was recorded in the ballroom of actress Jane Seymour’s mansion at 3 A.M. It closes with computerized sounds created by ZX Spectrum computers, which all the members of Radiohead owned in the 1970s. Jonny explains what it’s all about: “It’s like when Andy Warhol said he enjoyed being bored. It’s about that feeling that you get when you’re not in control of it – you just go past thousands of places and thousands of people and you’re completely removed from it.”

Thom: “I was pissed in a club, and I suddenly had the funniest thought I’d had for ages – what if all the people who were drinking were hanging from the bottles… if the bottles were hung from the ceiling with string, and the floor caved in, and the only thing that kept everyone up was the bottles? It’s also about an enormous fear of being trapped.”
YouTube - Radiohead - Karma Police (Acoustic)

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“It was a band catchphrase for a while on tour – whenever someone was behaving in a particularly shitty way, we’d say, ‘The karma police will catch up with him sooner or later,’” says Jonny. “It’s not a revenge thing, just about being happy with your own behaviour.” Thom laughs, “This is a song against bosses, fuck middle management!” “Karma Police” was debuted back in 1996 durning the Alanis Morissette tour. Thom sang the line “This is what you’ll get” an octave higher than he does on the album, with brilliant results. Ed was the one who originally suggested they do a song based on the catch-phrase. The song includes the line “He buzzes like a fridge/He’s like a detuned radio”, a reference to the distracting, metaphorical background noise Yorke calls “fridge buzz”. Yorke has said that the idea of fridge buzz is one of the primary themes of OK Computer; “Karma Police” also shares themes of insanity and dissatisfaction with capitalism.

“Karma Police” is in a 4/4 time signature and played in standard tuning. The first half of the song is in the key of A Dorian, the second half (starting with the line “For a minute there”) is in B minor. Acoustic guitar and piano are the most prominent instruments in the song, and the chord progression these instruments follow owes an audible debt to The Beatles song “Sexy Sadie”. The structure of the song is unconventional in that it has nothing resembling a typical chorus. Instead, the song progresses from the intro into a mid-tempo section which alternates between two verses. The first verse begins with the line “Karma police”, and the other begins with the line “This is what you get”. During the second section the drums drop out and an analog synthesizer imitating a choir is featured. After this section cycles through twice, the song switches into a second section which is based around the line “For a minute there, I lost myself”. During this section of the song, Yorke’s voice is put through an echo effect and a sliding melodic figure serves as a counterpoint to Yorke’s vocals. In the outro, Ed O’Brien plays a few notes on his guitar, which are distorted by overloading an AMS rackmount digital delay unit and turning the delay rate knob down.

The music video for the song was directed by Jonathan Glazer, previously responsible for Radiohead’s “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” clip. The video premiered in August 1997 and featured Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke as well as Hungarian actor Lajos Kovács. Glazer won MTV’s Director of the Year award in 1997 for his work on this, as well as Jamiroquai’s “Virtual Insanity”. Glazer however revealed in an interview that he considers this video to be a failed attempt. According to MTV.com, Glazer had pitched the concept of the “Karma Police” video months earlier to Marilyn Manson, who disliked it.

The video starts with the camera, an unseen driver, looking at the empty back seat of a 1976 Chrysler New Yorker at night. The ‘driver’ then faces the windscreen and begins driving. For 35 seconds, it shows nothing but a road through grass illuminated by headlights, with insects visible around the windscreen. A figure is then seen running from the car. In time for the chorus the view shifts back to the back seat, where Thom Yorke now sits, almost mumbling his lyrics. The view yet again moves to the figure, who is close to being mown down, as the view again switches to Yorke, now slouching drowsily against the back of the front seat, barely lipsyncing any longer. The camera swivels again and the figure appears again, close this time. For the first time another perspective reveals the outside of the car. The pursued figure sharpens and is revealed to be a large man with a frightened look. As the car comes to a stop before him, the man raises his hands realising the car has a petrol leak he then puts them behind his back as if in resignation, then takes matches from his pocket, lights one, and throws it down. The perspective shifts to the car’s interior. The car suddenly reverses, away from the man, a path of fire now blazes back towards the car. The car slowly catches fire, and the camera/driver finally turns frantically to the back seat and robotically swivels back and forth, only to find that Yorke is no longer there.
YouTube - RADIOHEAD FITTER HAPPIER

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Many people mistook the computerized voice on this track for that of physicist Stephen Hawking. The strange voice was, in fact, created by Thom on his Mac computer. He recorded it one night in an isolated area of the rehearsal space that the band had set up. Ed: “Thom basically had this checklist, like a nineties checklist if you like, and he had written it out. There is a bit of him playing piano, [which was] in the rehearsal room. He was very drunk one night, which you can tell by the sloppy playing on it, and he just played out this melody and stuff. He was very anxious that it wasn’t him saying [the lyrics] – this voice is neutral. By the computer saying it, it doesn’t becomed a bit of pretentious art-wank, it’s something neutral in the way that the computer stumbles over words and doesn’t get the pronunciation or the inflections right.” Adds Thom: “The reason ‘Fitter Happier’ exists is ‘cos of mental background noise. Some days you’re in a disturbed state and it moves to the front.” The track was used as an entrance song for the band on their 1997 tour.
YouTube - Radiohead: ELECTIONEERING OK Computer live New York 12.19.97

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Thom describes this song as being about preaching to others through a microphone. He uses the metaphor of a politician selling his party platform to critique the live promotional shows Radiohead was doing to sell its music. In its original, 1996 live form, the song ended on a very catchy note with Thom repeating the line “Doin’ it all.” Many fans were surprised and a little disappointed at the final version that made OK Computer.

Thom: “We live under a world banking system and media that make it almost irrelevant who is in power. Political systems worldwide are at the mercy of business and bullshit economies. I can’t recycle any of the polythene packaging that fills my house. Why?”

Thom was thinking of the Poll Tax Riots as he wrote this, the scenes were people were breaking down the gates of Downing Street. As well as being political, the song is also about them, traveling around the globe and having to sell their records to people.
YouTube - Radiohead - Climbing Up the Walls [Glastonbury 2003]

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This is the first track in the band’s repertoire to be described as “scary.” It relies heavily on strings, but not in the conventional way. The string section, covered by Jonny alone, features 16 different violins playing quarter tones apart from each other.

The audience’s cue that the band is about to play this song live comes when Jonny pulls out a small radio and begins tuning it to different stations. During the band’s sound checks, Jonny locates classical-music or news-oriented local radio stations, and uses these -never rock stations- to execute “Climbing Up the Walls.”

Thom : “This is about the unspeakable. Literally skull-crushing. I used to work in a mental hospital around the time that Care In The Community started, and we all just knew what was going to happen. And it’s one of the scariest things to happen in this country, because a lot of them weren’t just harmless… It was hailing violently when we recorded this. It seemed to add to the mood.”

“Some people can’t sleep with the curtains open in case they see the eyes they imagine in their heads every night burning through the glass. Lots of people have panic buttons fitted in their bedrooms so they can reach over and set the alarm off without disturbing the intruder. This song is about the cupboard monster.”
YouTube - Radiohead - No Surprises (High Definition)

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Thom introduced this song to his bandmates and the members of REM on the REM Monster Tour. It was 3 August 1995, in Oslo, Norway, and they were all gathered in a dressing room. The lyrics have been changed since then, but they originally told the story of a man who has become fed up with the way things are working out for him and is having problems with his girlfriend. Two lines from this version are, “He was sick of her excuses / To not take off her dress when bleedin’ in the bathroom.” Preparing to record the song, Thom altered those lyrics, but the meaning remains essentially the same. Aside from the fact that it features a glockenspiel, this track has a simplicity that proves Radiohead’s ability to create a basic song with straighforward lyrics and make it fit smoothly into an album as complex as OK Computer.

What’s amazing is that this song was actually recorded at a faster speed and then sped down when Thom put the vocal track on it.

The music video for “No Surprises” was directed by Grant Gee. The video consists solely of a single close-up shot of Thom Yorke’s head inside an astronaut-style dome helmet. The lyrics are shown throughout the entire song slowly scrolling upwards but mirrored, as they are being reflected off of the dome. After the first verse, the helmet begins to fill with water. Yorke continues singing as he attempts to lift his head above the rising water. Once the bubble completely fills, Yorke is motionless for over a minute, after which the water is released and he resumes singing. For Yorke’s safety, the video was filmed at high-speed and played back in slow-motion. One of the scenes in Gee’s documentary about the band, Meeting People is Easy, cuts from the British news channel Sky News showing and (unfavourably) discussing the video to several takes of its filming. The song speeds up during filming when his face is fully submerged, until he pulls the rubber bottom out to release the water and members of the film crew help him out. Despite the safety measures, Yorke is shown getting more visibly uncomfortable and even agitated with each take.
YouTube - Radiohead "Lucky" Live

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From Ed’s sweet, tingling, opening riff, the rest of “Lucky” was generated. “I remember fiddling around in the sound check,” he says. “[We] were in Japan- and putting together a different pedal order and actually hitting the strings above the nut on the headstock. The pedals that I did it with, and the delay that was going on. It was one of those moments -’Yeah, this is pretty cool’” From here, “Lucky” was made into what the band considers a “happy” song, or at least as happy a song as they are capable of creating. An identical version, which can be found on both the Help! compilation and the Help! EP, also appears on OK Computer. This wasn’t the plan: the band did try to remix the track for the third album but found they couldn’t improve on it.
YouTube - [DVD] Radiohead - Glastonbury 1997 [Full Concert]

The Tourist starts at 1:20:22

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“The Tourist” was written by Jonny, who, explains Thom, was “in a beautiful square in France on a sunny day, and watching all theses American tourists being wheeled around, frantically trying to see everything in 10 minutes.” Jonny was shocked at how these people could be in a place so beautiful and so special and not realize it because they weren’t taking the time to just stop and look around.

Jonny: “Thom didn’t play a thing, he just listened. It’s quite nervy, with a lot of space. It sounds like the last song on an album.”
Song interpretations from Green Plastic Radiohead — Unofficial Radiohead Website since 1997
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Old 04-22-2011, 01:00 PM   #2
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Note: May have to refresh the screen (sometimes turns green) after loading a few videos to get them to work but they all work individually.

Live performances.
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Old 04-22-2011, 01:02 PM   #3
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Because OK Computer hasn't been discussed enough by people on the internet.
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Old 04-22-2011, 01:13 PM   #4
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Old 04-22-2011, 01:40 PM   #5
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The "I Heart" series continues...
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Old 04-22-2011, 02:48 PM   #6
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Controversial thread.
 
I do love OK Computer, though.
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Old 04-22-2011, 03:41 PM   #7
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I remember that I passed out for about 5 hours after I heard Subterranean Homesick Alien for the first time.
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Old 04-22-2011, 04:03 PM   #8
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How did this make it across the B&C border?
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Old 04-22-2011, 06:22 PM   #9
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How did this make it across the B&C border?
Because mentioning it EYKIW incurs relentless scourging and dogged proclamations that U2 is more "relevant" than Radiohead.
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Old 04-22-2011, 08:54 PM   #10
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Because OK Computer hasn't been discussed enough by people on the internet.
Yeah, exactly, and it's not even like the best album of 1997.
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Old 04-23-2011, 12:28 AM   #11
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Ahhhh the hipsters.
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Old 04-23-2011, 12:30 AM   #12
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Hipsters? You have WAY too much time on your hands. There's a Radiohead thread for this discussion, plus, as phanan implied, if you really needed to start a new thread you could have used a more original title.
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Old 04-23-2011, 12:32 AM   #13
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Hipsters? You have WAY too much time on your hands. There's a Radiohead thread for this discussion, plus, as phanan implied, if you really needed to start a new thread you could have used a more original title.
It's a series. Burying the thread is pointless.
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Old 04-23-2011, 12:34 AM   #14
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It's YOUR series. And a pointless one at that.
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Old 04-23-2011, 12:34 AM   #15
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Ahhhh the hipsters.
Don't hipsters usually love Radiohead to bits?
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