I’ve been a Radiohead fan since high school and it happened completely by accident. My brother had a mostly reggae/dancehall mix tape that I was listening to one night alone in my bedroom. I had my headphones plugged into my stereo player jammin’ away at the latest dancehall tunes, when out of nowhere and totally out of place came this song that was so not like the others.It was non other than Paranoid Android and it was fuckin’ awesome. I listened to it, a bit perplexed, and was transported on a ride that took me to so many different places, unexpectedly and without my express consent or permission.
The way the song starts, with it’s light strumming of the guitar(s) and the strange sound of Thome’s voice was soothing and inviting. The robotic voice that repeated in the background “I may be paranoid, no android” was a welcomed layer under Thome’s whining. And about two minutes in, I recall a subtle sadness as it was obvious the song would soon be over, as it seemed to mellow out. What the fuck?!? Boy, was I wrong! Little did I know, that I was just one third of the way through this magical music migration.
After Thom cries a little bit he starts to sing in a slightly more aggressive voice followed by some more crying then he bitch slapped me with, “You don’t remember. You don’t remember. Why don’t you remember my name? Off with his head, man. Off with his head, man. Why don’t you remember my name?” And mellows out a little with “I guess he does.” which transitions into one of my favorite guitar solos of all time, picking me up and gently floating me down in to the “rain down on me” chorus, or whatever you call that part of the song. And by this time I am sure I’ve reached the end. A tear begins to form. “How beautiful,” I thought. How sad, I felt. “God loves his children. God loves his children, yeah.” And holy fuck, does he love his children; thrown right back into another guitar solo and just like that, left for dead.
I frantically fumbled for my remote to rewind that sucker and do the damn thing all over again. And so I did, again and again and again. I fell completely in love with the song, but I had no idea who it was by and neither did my brother. It wasn’t until I saw the music video one day, that I realized it was by the same guys that sang that “Creep” song, which I heard years earlier. I went on to buy the O.K. Computer CD, which may be my favorite CD ever, and Paranoid Android, my favorite song of all time.
I know it’s tough to pick a favorite song, but I think it’s something everyone should think about and decision we should all make. I have chosen this as my favorite song because of the world it opened up to me and the manner in which I discovered it. It was not forced upon me by another fan. No one said, “dude, you gotta heard this!” It just happened and it connected and it was spectacularly different from most of the music I’ve heard up until that point.
After buying the brand new version of O.K. Computer, I went back to the record store to see if I could find some used copies of Radiohead’s other albums and picked up Pablo Honey. A friend lent me a copy (which, now made it mine) of The Bends, and at that time I was completely caught up. Those kept me busy for a while, but I did not get into the older albums until years later. O.K. Computer was so much more entertaining and I kept it on heavy rotation.
“Kid A” kind of slipped by me and it wasn’t until I saw the video for Pyramid Song on TV, that I realized that I was behind. I went out and accidentally bought “Kid A”, thinking that was the latest album, but was disappointed when I didn’t hear anything that resembled the song I heard on the TV earlier that day. I went out again and got the right CD and kind of put “Kid A” aside. I didn’t go back to it until much later and finally was able to appreciate it for what it was.
When “Hail to the Thief” came out, it made a strong run for replacing “O.K. Computer” as my favorite CD. “In Rainbows” was no different, which was the first album I bought digitally. Later I bought Thome’s solo project, “The Eraser”, which I also enjoyed to some extent. I did not purchase “The King of Limbs” until a pretty long while after it’s release and mostly listened to a remixed version of it on the web. Since I just got it, my feelings for it have not yet solidified, but I’m a pretty die hard fan and can take almost anything that this band throws at me.
I think it’s a shame that I’ve never seen Radiohead in person and this is a life goal of mine. But even if that doesn’t shake out, I’m very appreciative of the fact that I gravitated towards their music despite all odds. Had I not accidentally discovered “Paranoid Android” on that mix tape on that fateful evening, I may have never really gotten into the band like I did. I was at a mostly black high school at the time and went on to attend a Historically Black University. No one I knew was listening to this shit. The fact that it’s all I really listened to made me stand out in all the circles in which I dwelt; constantly pushing the music on my friends and converting a few to sound that is Radiohead. Sure, I still listened to rap, R&B and other, more aggressive, rock music (Tool, Deftones, System of Down), but none have lasted as long as Rodiohead has. I sincerely consider them the best band of our time and fear the day that they will be no more. The fact that they’re so uncool looking is also a huge plus, in my opinion.
Through the Wonder of Pandora, my Radiohead channel has give me some new favorites that slipped by me in the past. Bands such as Muse, White Town Portishad and Pixies. Muse is definitely a stand-out fave and is fitting to carry the torch, as far as I’m concerned. But I digress. This post is about the est futha fuckin’ band of all time. So, with out any further ado, here is my list of my favorite Radiohead songs by album:
Pablo Honey- Creep
The Bends – Street Spirit
OK Computer – Paranoid Android
Kid A – How to Disappear Completely
(not official music video)
Amnesiac – Pyramid Song
Hail to the Thief – Sail to the Moon
(not official music video)
In Rainbows – Nude
The King of Limbs – Bloom (for now… Good Morning Mr Magpie may be it.)
(not official music video)
I also want to share some of my favorite Radiohead (related) videos, which also include the Street Spirit video above: