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Showing 26 posts tagged mp3

Help me get where I belong

We have reached the end. It’s time to go to sleep or leave forever. Let’s hope the former. Let’s hope this is another lullaby, with some sadness sure, because there’s always sadness, but also peace, warmth. Let’s hope that this is a pretend goodbye, the kind you play as children. He tells you he thinks you’re crazy, maybe, as he drifts off and you can touch the smile playing at the corner of his lips. The harps sing, the angelic choir goes aaaah and the light goes blindingly white. Let’s hope.

Street Spirit (Fade Out)

This machine will, will not communicate these thoughts and the strain I am under

"Street Spirit" closes out The Bends with some dark grandeur. O’Brien and Yorke lock in on that Spanish-style arpeggio and it isn’t until J. Greenwood’s appearance on additional guitar harmony that you suddenly feel the oppressive containment that preceded it. Air comes in and you’ve escaped…somewhat. It is up to you to remain free.

Jonathan Glazers’ (Sexy Beast, Birth) coolly stunning black and white video for the song, doesn’t bother with plot. It recognizes that the beauty of the piece is in the particulars; the way time seems to quicken and slow down, how gestures take on gorgeousness when isolated and observed. The images seem to say watch us, hold onto us because we are ending. We are ending right now.

"Our fans are braver than I to let that song penetrate them, or maybe they don’t realize what they’re listening to. They don’t realize that ‘Street Spirit’ is about staring the fucking devil right in the eyes, and knowing, no matter what the hell you do, he’ll get the last laugh. And it’s real, and true. The devil really will get the last laugh in all cases without exception…That’s why I’m convinced that they don’t know what it’s about. It’s why we play it towards the end of our sets. It drains me, and it shakes me, and hurts like hell every time I play it, looking out at thousands of people cheering and smiling, oblivious to the tragedy of its meaning, like when you’re going to have your dog put down and it’s wagging its tail on the way there. That’s what they all look like, and it breaks my heart."

I don’t understand Yorke here. Why wouldn’t an audience think that singing IMMERSE YOUR SOUL IN LOVE in soaring voice, believing it, and following through is enough to keep the devil at bay?

As listeners, we’re not surprised to be wrong, we usually are. But this is the thing with art; yes, it’s yours if you made it but once out there it starts accumulating the weight of our expectations, experiences and feelings. It becomes something else and you can’t ever have it back. This is the song that played the night he realized he needed to move back home, the day she walked to work and it scored the leaf crunch path perfectly, the moment they fell out of love, the first time he voted, the last time she danced.

In the end, the rows of houses may be the audience after all.

Meet the real world coming out of your shell

"I Will" is a gorgeous example of harmony and ending counter-melody. The layering of the voices and the relative sparseness of the arrangement gives it a sacred feel, like a motet. It’s a prayer of sorts, the kind made after reading something earlier that day in the paper, an article about the bombing of shelters and the death of children. A woman thinks of her own child and involuntarily covers her face because her imagination, which has always been vivid, is now in hyperdrive and she can’t, she just can’t continue to imagine the unimaginable. Later that night she holds her baby in her arms and they put their hand up to her face. Can she protect them from the world? No. But she tells them something that she wishes with all her heart could be true. Such is the way of promises.

Nude (Live on the Jonathan Ross Show)

Now that you’ve found it, it’s gone

Somewhere along the way, after years of playing this, they learned how it should be done. Yorke realized that he needed to stop playing the Rhodes and just sing those ending melodic runs. He figured out how to sing them and the rest of the song, those impossibly high silken lines, sing them so right that it seems like he’s barely trying. C. Greenwood and Selway anchor the song with their as-one sway and keep the dreamsound so gentle, you’d never know it was a nasty warning.

One day I am going to grow wings

At night, when the streets sat quiet, I’d find myself sitting on my couch with heart hammering wildly and my eyes bursting from my head. It’s the kind of feeling that concludes with action and at the time, it seemed completely clear. There was only one way to go. I took a medical leave from my job and lied to the boss that I loved when I told him I’d be back. I started stockpiling all the pills that were prescribed but I’d never take. When the doctor would ask me if I felt suicidal, I’d say no and smile to show that I meant it. That’s all you have to do.

A friend came to visit me that Christmas. OK Computer had just come out so I bought it for him and he made me a copy before he left. I planned for February. Out of habit, I still listened to CDs on my way to work on the express bus I rode every day into the city. An hour and fifteen minutes of buildings and river in shades of gray. I started to pay attention, the music cut through the fog. The songs started to get winnowed down, first to six, then four, two and then finally one.

If you distill “Let Down” to emotion, pure emotion, it is numbness that threatens to crack, then does and somehow the loss becomes ecstasy. The guitar and drums churn and rotate like wheels. The sound of travel, the soulless commute, the gray faces of your fellow riders. The language of drudgery leading to a chorus of sweetly murmured disappointment. It builds. A quiet shimmering build. You hear two voices double tracked, you come to expect them, that padding, so when the song quiets down and then slowly builds up again, you don’t expect the single voice. It broke away, you see, and it repeats itself: you know, you know where you are, where, you know where you are, where, floor collapsing floating, bouncing back and one daaaaay… And this is where the song becomes sublime, that single voice keeps going, going up, up, up you know where you are you know where you are and the second voice returns, emphatically proclaiming from the ground but looking upwards at its shadow self. That sonic rise lifts the listener too. Your breath, which had been held for so long, can finally release and you float along with those voices, the chiming guitars. Arms outstretched and free, a release of balloons, an all together heart bursting thing.           

I somehow made it past February, every February since and hope to continue doing so armed with the knowledge that it will always be a struggle. This song was important to me, it opened me up, it made me feel elation again about something, however small, when I thought I could no longer feel past the end of the hour. But it it couldn’t be everything, Depression is never that easy. We’d bought a computer earlier that summer and I was online for the first time. As entertainingly batshit as fan websites, mailing lists, disgruntled twenty-somethings from Europe, angry teens from Perth, Australia, Southern California and/or Connecticut suburbs proved to be, making friends with strangers was never my thing, so no, that wasn’t it. The internet proved to be a resource in other ways— I sought help and got pushed back from the gray. No, the irony doesn’t escape me. The Black Swan brought gifts.

Myxomatosis (Live From The Basement)

it must have got mixed up

Because:

1) The drumming is HARDCORE. Selway really sounds like he’s putting mad shoulder into each hit. The visual does not support this of course. You don’t see sweaty effort, only concentration and cool.

2) C. Greenwood’s bass face.

3) The Greenwood Bros. grungy bass/keyboard double assault. Something this ugly shouldn’t sound so good.

4) I. Don’t. Know. Why. I. Feel. So. Tongue. Tied.

5) Again those drums.

6) Ice cold disco keyboard.

7) (This is only on the studio version but it must be mentioned…) yeah no one likes a smart ass but we all like stars FOR A REASON that wasn’t my intention FOR A REASON I did it for a reason REASON - once the doubling gets in my head, I can’t let it go.

8) The lifted line from “Cuttooth”

9) “I wish that’s what they [would] sound like now and forever” - Jeff Klingman

Backdrifts (Live at The Beacon Theater, 2003)

What the hell, we’ve got nothing more to lose

The night we met he only looked up once and focused his gaze somewhere south of the beauty mark on my left cheek. A friend was playing a mix of mine and the track was Pink Floyd’s “Fearless” covered by Low. I said the guitars sounded like great releases of water and I loved hearing the break at the end of every line.  He didn’t hear that part, he hadn’t been listening, he just said, Pink Floyd’s ”Fearless”? You know that song? He joined the conversation a bit after that. He had the nervous smile of someone who doesn’t like their teeth; the lips never quite pull back, just bunch even closer together when they grin. I got the sense that he was lonely and stuck and made a mental note to invite him to things. A few months later I offered to sell him an extra ticket to a White Stripes show. He met us on the line outside the theater, fresh from work, blue shirt tucked into khakis. He gave that nervous smile at the ground and said thank you. I barked YOU GOT DA MONEY? He jumped a little, I wanted him to. Nice people make me nervous. Best to put them off right from the start.

Let it be noted I had no designs on him at the time. It ain’t that kind of party. In my own way, I was lonely and stuck too. I was trying to assemble something, a new community for myself and I thought he could be a part of it. Like recognizes like.

A year or so later, we were good friends. I’m not sure how it happened, what with his crippling shyness and my crippling shyness and our opposing ways of dealing with it. Him retreating, me yelling at everyone in sight. Basically, I just kept talking and he eventually joined in. The night of a party at his house, we heard that MTV was presenting a $2 Radiohead show at the Beacon Theater and that people were camping out already to get in. A group of us planned to go but we were the only ones who managed to stay up. Somewhat. We talked, he played guitar, I sang, but eventually we both fell asleep on his sandy mattress. I had kicked off my shoes and put my arms around him, after asking. Didn’t want to freak him out. He was slight but surprisingly comfortable, it was easy to relax into sleep. We got up at 5, had breakfast at a diner which now has another name, rode three trains, and settled at the third time around the block end of the line. Like an old biddy, I gummed anxiously on several packets of Choward’s Violet candies, watching all the kids and the t-shirts YOU ARE A TARGET MARKET knowing we would never, ever, ever get in and that it didn’t even matter because something had changed. He had looked me right in the eye that morning and, like the song that I’ve danced to a million times, his were green or blue or gray. He held my hand. I stared at his wrists. He smiled with visible teeth. He kept his hand in mine, even as the MTV bullhorns shooed us away, the line dividing into the yeses and the nos, even though he’d never seen them live and really wanted to. Later that night I called a friend, she didn’t understand why I was so nervous. I couldn’t explain. In a lifetime of maybes, I’d never been faced with such certainty.

"Backdrifts" became our jam; a sinuous, passing train-tracks shuffle that featured an odd moment where everything stops moving and Yorke yelps out Uh! Uh! UUUUUH!. We took to this moment like mockingbirds, repeating it constantly, it was so strange yet perfect, when words fail us and all we have are exclamations, then why not UH! UH! UUUUUUH!?

* * *

I was outside his office on 32nd Street and when he came out, looking especially bleary-eyed. I said, I changed my mind about the movie. He walked alongside me and said, oh, you don’t want to go? Too tired? I said no, I’d much rather see that instead, pointed backwards at the big MSG Radiohead sign behind me and held up two tickets. NO WAY he said. I looped my arm for him to take. The seats were great, courtesy of a former boss/friend with a connection to a fancypants music critic with a surplus. The scheduled openers had to cancel and we were treated to Low (?!), who looked a bit stunned to be there. Radiohead came out and killed. Yorke’s finest moment may have been a spirited “Myxomatosis”, where he turned the lyrics into a mish mash of gibberish, lazy tongue flopping, popping and locking and PUNCH. He grinned from the stage like a boy with all the toys and I felt exactly the same way. I yawned/stretched my arm around my date, who laughed at my Fonzie move. I may have kissed him too, the whole night felt like a kiss.

* * *

Sitting in front of the computer now in 2011, it’s the fifth of July, and I’m trying to type with our son sitting behind me pretending to be on a motorcycle. He’s two, which he’ll gladly tell you by putting up the right amount of fingers. We’re going vrrrrrrooooom and vrrrrrrrrooooom vrrrrrrrooooooom. He doesn’t care about the sounds playing on the little speakers, but he laughs when I go Uh! Uh! Uuuuuuuuhn! and sing You fell into our arms, you fell into our arms, we tried but there was nothing we could do. Nothing we could do.

All I Need (Scotch Mist version)

I’m going to stick with you because there are no others

Sometimes, not often, but sometimes I get bummed out that Yorke and Co. have never given me an uncomplicated, unambivalent love song*. Something I can sing along to with moony-eyed simplicity, all boy band hand gestures and tiny dance moves, blissful and small. “All I Need” is not that song despite the promise of the title and the line that it belongs to. You can do it though, fool yourself into thinking that being all someone needs is a lovely thing and not an animal trapped in a hot car, not an insect that wants to share your light, not just because there are no others. You can pretend that being that small and dependent on something outside of yourself is not a frightening thing. You can block out the message but then you’d lose the unexpected tenderness behind it. Another example of Radiohead confusing you with contrasts; a gossamer melody paired with pointed words. It’s all wrong, it’s all right.

Two things I love in this Scotch Mist performance (starts at 1:28): the head/torso/shoulder bass-responding moves that Yorke puts out, the tulle-like delicacy of the J. Greenwood’s sugarplum fairy Rhodes flutters and the way they are all locked so beautifully into the groove.

*Actually, there is one: “I Might Be Wrong”. Seriously. Pelvic thrusting blues riff aside, check out the lyrics. Not much for a slow dance but I don’t think that’s the intention.