close your eyes
 
[music, albums]

VI: 2001 Radiohead - Amnesiac, part 1


Radiohead - Amnesiac

I will do this in two parts as otherwise the post would get too long and you would have to wait another day for the complete review.

The band name

Baby your mind is a radio
Got a receiver inside my head
Baby I'm tuned to your wavelength
Lemme tell you what it says:
Transmitter!
Oh! Picking up something good
Hey, radio head!
The sound...Of a brand-new world.

...
Now you and I have no secrets
Now baby, lemme read your mind
I hear ev'rything you're thinking
You can't help the way you sound

Radio Head by
The Talking Heads
(bold by me)

The band how I saw it
I have always hated hyped bands. One reason for this is that I don't like that the world shoves me the music I should listen to into my ears. I love to discover new music. Like an explorer loves to discover new countries. And I do not like packaged tours to places where everyone has been already and which have lost all their authenticity due to the millions of people who have tread those paths before.

Additionally very often hyped bands have been huge disappointments for me. Radiohead was no exception to this rule. Almost everything they did before Amnesiac didn't do anything for me. I felt it had all been done before better and without this irritating and embarrassing falsetto. Ok there was Creep their first single from 1992 I heard on Bernard Lenoir's radio program and later on MTV. A very catchy dramatic indie rock ballad with personal lyrics which seemed to be so fitting to their singer Thom Yorke that it hurt. Just take the first strophe:

When you were here before
Couldn't look you in the eye
You're just like an angel
Your skin makes me cry
You float like a feather
In a beautiful world
I wish I was special
You're so fuckin' special
But I'm a creep, I'm a weirdo.
What the hell am I doing here?
I don't belong here.

At the time there was no-one in the world to whom the term "creep" seemed more appropriate than Thom Yorke, a pale shy unremarkable guy from Oxford singing for an unknown indie band with the ridiculuous nonsense name Radiohead.

Later on in 1995 there was the sampler for the Bosnian kids who suffered from the civil war to which Radiohead contributed Lucky, a bitter-sweet ballad which was later to be the outstanding song on OK Computer, a totally over-hyped album which I have always found of hardly any interest at all. In places it sounded like a shitty Pink Floyd for the nineties. Mostly unbearable. My point of view is that progrock belongs into the seventies and should never resurface again.

The title
A: What was the name of that album again?
B: It must have slipped my mind.
A: That's the one.

Thom Yorkes said that Amnesiac "is about the things you forget. And remembering..."
At best this is half of the truth I suspect. The themes Yorke sings about on Amnesiac are too serious to forget about. Divorce, brutality and death are unforgettable once you have experienced them. And I still believe that Yorke has experienced them himself. Otherwise he would be an amazing actor, an incredible liar. But the way he sings suggests that he isn't. His voice simply is too intense, too pure.

My theory is different. I don't know where Thom Yorke has been to be able to write the lyrics to this album. But it definitely isn't a place I'd ever like to go to. And I guess he doesn't want to go there again neither. That's why they released Kid A first and tried to forget about the other tracks recorded at roughly the same time. I could imagine that if Kid A hadn't been so widely acclaimed they probably would never have released Amnesiac at all. In a way it is a record which would have been better left in the drawer than exposed to the world. The album is not about real amnesia which usually comes to you after an accident. It is about a wanted, a consciously strived for amnesia. To forget things which are too horrible, too devastating to think back to.


 





 
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