Everything in it's Right Place
I fell in love for the first time at 16 to a boy named Thom. I heard a song called "Black Star" that I immediately responded to. "Fake Plastic Trees" was of course the huge single off The Bends and I loved that one too, even though it was somewhat unfashionable to like the singles of bands. I remember one summer sitting by a friend's pool where we just listened to "Fake Plastic Trees" over and over again. Then, I thought I had accidentally lost the cd and went a little nuts. I had merely misplaced it when I accidentally switched it with disc one of the Beatles White Album and sanity was restored.
I quickly found out about Pablo Honey and bought that too. It didn't hit me as much at first, though I had a bunch of bsides from around that era-"Banana Co", "Killer Cars" that I played incessantly. One night, I heard a radio broadcast where they played "Creep" and Thom Yorke went off singing "She's running out again" with such desperation it rivaled Jeff Buckley covering Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" at the Bataclan in Paris. (I am not sure which live performance came first as I heard Jeff's much later though it could have very well been the same year.) It was completely different from the album's recording and it was what made me get Pablo Honey and listen to more (at the same time, I remember playing the "How Can You Be Sure?" bside about a hundred times a day) I easily fell in love with "Stop Whispering" and realized very quickly that even if anyone can play guitar, no one could play it quite like Thom Yorke or Jonny Greenwood.
In 1997, two very important things occurred in my life. The first was that OK Computer was released. The second was that I graduated high school and went to college. I started dating Cinchel then, who immediately bought OK Computer too. It didn't matter to me. I needed my own copy. I felt like the album was a reflection on society with how boxed in we'd all gotten and how cold and mechanized we'd become with songs like "Fitter Happier""Paranoid Android" and "No Surprises." (The latter of these they actually played live in the show I saw them.) I listened to this and nothing else for months on end. Everything else seemed like garbage to me.
I had this one life changing experience with "No Surprises" in particular. I hesitate to share it because it's sort of inexpressible or at the very least intangible. It was sort of like the feeling of the video for "Street Spirit" this feeling of weightlessness and also I was connected to everyone all of a sudden and very aware of myself in every form in relation to everything else. I was at a gas station and was about 20 and all of a sudden, "No Surprises" came on the radio. I started singing along (I always sing along) and probably crying a little when Thom got to the spot in the song where he sings, "This is my final fit my final..." and all of a sudden, it was like something had been out of whack in the universe that came together...a brief harmonic rest to our ghastly history of war and oppression. I also felt like time was staying still for a moment and I was aware of so many simultaneous things-the glance of a woman over her shoulder, birds, the buzzing of an engine, the click of a gasoline pump handle and all around me, it felt like the song was there. Molecules were dissolving rapidly but it was a good thing.
I went to see Radiohead play Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens around this time for the OK Computer tour and all I wanted was for Thom to play "The Trickster" bside. Oddly enough, even though I was far away up in the stadium seats and Radiohead looked like little peas with instruments, someone on the floor requested it. Thom said that song was really hard to play but they pulled it off brilliantly. I wasn't surprised.
Kid A came out while I was trying to wrap up my university degree in 2000. The songs were continually more abstract and cerebral like you became part of an endless horizon in music. "How to Disappear Completely" and, of course, "Everything in it's Right Place" easily helped become part of the soundtrack to my life around that time period but even more so hitting me would be the raw emotion in 2001's Amnesiac. I sang right along with Thom during "You and Whose Army"and I absorbed his visceral utterances in "Like Spinning Plates." I drove from Buffalo, NY to Chicago to make the first major geographical move in my life. And as I was drifting through endless highway of Cleveland in the middle of the night, I played Amnesiac over and over again. "Come on Holy Roman Empire..."It was like a blood transfusion.
Basically, I think as Radiohead has put out more and more albums, they have moved into more of an ethereal abstract territory, especially with this newest one In Rainbows. Though I think it's difficult to touch me like The Bends or OK Computer did, I feel moved in a different sense, as if I'm experiencing really great art in a landscape that doesn't exist but should. It would make reality better if it did. Thom's voice floats ethereally above the music and completes it so fully....to photograph them...well, I never in my wildest dreams would have thought a girl as small as I am could have photographed giants like that. They are, to me, as big as The Beatles and just as important. If I could write Thom a letter that I know he'd read, it would be rather short and to the point. It would simply say:
I want to be in your band when I get to heaven.
Setlist as posted by Pitchfork:
01. 15 Step
03. There There
04. All I Need
06. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
07. The Gloaming
08. The National Anthem
09. Faust Arp
10. No Surprises
11. Jigsaw Falling Into Place
14. The Bends
15. Everything in Its Right Place
16. Fake Plastic Trees
19. Paranoid Android
20. Dollars and Cents
21. House of Cards