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In Rainbows

January 10, 2008

It's funny how I'm always behind the times when it comes to pop music. I didn't become an ardent fan of The Smiths till around 1990, at which point they'd been and gone. Now I'll follow Morrissey, the old rocker, anywhere, even though he's very much past his prime. My belated appreciation for The Rolling Stones (whom, embarrassingly, I couldn't abide until about a year ago), Bob Dylan and The Pogues follows similar lines.

Most recently, I've become a Radioheadphile. I virtually ignored this pop megalith for the first twenty years of its history (the band was founded in 1986). It was only last October, while waiting out a storm sitting in a rental car in Seattle, that I heard In Rainbows, Radiohead's latest album, and became an instant convert to the band's sound. Now I can't get enough. I just read in The Chicago Tribune that Radiohead is embarking upon a 22 city US tour this year. I'll be first in line for tickets. It's not just the band's music that intrigues me. I'm also impressed by how the group is disseminating its music. I've been following the progress of In Rainbows, from its initial release online on a pay-what-you-like basis to its current explosion as a regular retail CD in record stores, very carefully. The band is paving the way for new music sales models, no question about it. (Classical violinist Tasmin Little's announcement about releasing her latest album on the Internet free of charge demonstrates how Radiohead's model is catching on throughout the music realm.)

I guess I need not be too ashamed about being so hopelessly slow on the uptake. Listening to music is like reading -- we grow into various authors in the same way as we grow into various musicians. I couldn't bare Jane Austen when I had to read her at school. Now I can't put her down. And she's been dead for centuries. The Daily Telegraph just published an interesting article precisely on this topic. "Look behind you - it's the future of pop" the headline of Neil McCormick's piece declares. The past is really very much part of the present and future. In some ways, life is a process of catching up with what's come before.


  • That is so fucking fantastic, Queenie, that you have come around to some Radioheads. I saw them at the Greek, in Los Angeles - they were there for one night only and I heard some were paying as much as 10,000 dollars to get in - not far from front row, and it was just beautiful. Even Beck had to sneak in to where I was standing. He is really little.

    I find their music very sub: terranean, conscious, stantial. Something you listen to alone at home for a good extended wail. Low light, candles, a little smoke; the sound is abstract, absurd, and not just a little dreamy. I still don't know half the lyrics and I don't care. There is a thing there no band comes close to.

    Like Georgia O'Keeffe's Pelvis in Blue series, the best stuff is left to our own imagination. And yet...the boys are a political bunch.

    Some of Thom Yorke's cries are like ancient lullabys.

    Pause (me thinks the me i gush too much)


    Just know: If you are first in line for tickets you may find yourself challenged to a duel for the front row. For you must be up front. At least very close to front. Because there is nothing like Mr. Yorke alone on the piano. And you must be close to that.

    I could go on and on. I don't want to be pushy. Their best stuff is not on the radio and it does not come in the first listen. It took me some time to come around. Now I'm lost. Feels terribly good.

    Mr. Stick

    ps As I wrote this I was back at that concert at the same time I saw myself challenge you to a front-of-the-line duel. Past Present Future -all at once.

    pps Did you know down is the new up? Listen to Thom alone with the piano.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At January 10, 2008 at 5:42 PM  

  • Don't know if you caught Radiohead's recent online show where they did a cover of The Smiths' Headmaster's Ritual.

    By Blogger Kristin Tieche, At January 10, 2008 at 9:19 PM  

  • It's a topsy turvy town indeed, Mr Stick. Thanks for passing on that extraordinarily moving clip. See you at the front of the line. Queenie.

    By Blogger Chloe Veltman, At January 10, 2008 at 9:58 PM  

  • KT: The Smiths and Radiohead in one fell swoop. Interesting how Thom Y refrains from using the upper register of his voice in this cover. It's difficult to imagine this song without Morrissey's banshee wail floating over the top of Marr's scrungey guitar. Yorken can hit those highs better than most, so I'm wondering why he doesn't try it here, especially since this is such a straightforward cover in so many other ways...

    By Blogger Chloe Veltman, At January 10, 2008 at 10:08 PM  

  • Appears he feels constrained by his reverence for the original. Even The Thom can be humbled by that patented Smiths malaise.

    Mr. Stick

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At January 11, 2008 at 12:15 PM  

  • Chloe, per your rave reviews, just picked up In Rainbows at Amoeba. And I, too, LOVE it.

    By Blogger Kristin Tieche, At January 11, 2008 at 7:02 PM  

  • Just beware. Be warned. Be careful.

    This isn't a sticker on the backpack thing you're both getting into. It's not a tattoo on the bum thing. It is something you won't even recognize for some time.

    It's not a club, though if you really commit to letting go...a gush. Not a cult. But you might find yourselves surrendering in public.

    Beware. Nobody else really cares.

    Like love but not love. Like war but not war. Like peace but not peace. A thing, not unlike a rescue raft, a boat, deep within your bone rivers. Marrow. No paddles. Just let it be.

    But it takes time. Careful not to over-indulge.

    By all means, enjoy,

    Mr. Stick

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At January 12, 2008 at 10:16 AM  

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