I just realized something the other day. “Creep” is twenty-five years old. Radiohead’s first album Pablo Honey will have been released twenty-five years ago next month.
Radiohead is fucking old.
Twenty-five years is a long time. Quarter of a century. For example, in twenty-five years Kiss went from upstart band who put on makeup to biggest band in the world to core members of the band quitting and taking off the makeup to reuniting all the original band members and putting on the makeup again for a gigantic reunion tour. 1972 to 1997. Twenty-five years is a long time, folks.
In the fifteen years since Hail To The Thief, Radiohead has put out a total of three albums. The reissue of OK Computer doesn’t count. They’re really not trying all that hard, are they?
Not long ago, I went back and watched Meeting People Is Easy, the video document of Radiohead post-OK Computer in the wake of critical and commercial success. You get to see the drudgery of many press interviews and how stifling touring can be to a creative mindset.
At this point in Radiohead’s career, the band were more than tired of “Creep” even though their fans were not. There’s a great clip in that doc where they’re playing the song live and the fans are singing along. Thom Yorke holds the mic in their direction to let them sing, seemingly over the whole enterprise. There’s no joy in his eyes, just a feeling of obligation. Motions gone through.
Fame is oppressive. Thom Yorke found it so oppressive and stifling to his creativity that. . . he stayed in Radiohead and as we speak is likely conjuring up a handful of murky, dissonant sonic squiggles that Jonny Greenwood will have to turn into actual songs somehow.
How else is Thom Yorke going to make a living? Gotta be a rock star, obviously. He’ll never make it as a marksman.
Is it just me or has Radiohead’s music sounded more and more claustrophobic? It goes back to the Kid A/Amnesiac era but Hail To The Thief is where the boxed-in fearful vibe becomes obvious. Is there any joy to be had? Is it all paranoia and dread for Radiohead? Is this music any good? If it is, is it healthy for us to expose ourselves to it? Either way, maybe we should actually be thankful they aren’t more prolific lest they give us more disconcerting aural mud that the Pitchforks of the world will still give typed fellatio to saying “Radiohead are exploring what it feels like to be alive in today’s world” even though no one can make out what Thom’s singing and there’s no lyric sheet to be found and Genius.com is no help.
In the meantime, let’s stop pretending their new stuff is as good as their old stuff. Let’s face it, they’ve been at it a long time now.