37 Facts You Probably Didn't Know About Radiohead
The first word on the new album is "Stay." The last is "Leave."
1. Phil Selway and Johnny Greenwood (along with Pulp's Jarvis Cocker) are members of The Weird Sisters, the popular wizarding band featured in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
2. "King of Limbs" is the name of an old oak tree — one of the oldest trees in Europe — in Wiltshire's Savernake Forest, near where Radiohead recorded In Rainbows.
4. Thom Yorke's brother Andy Yorke was in a band called the Unbelievable Truth. Thom guests on a few songs on their excellent first album.
5. The noises you hear at the beginning of "The Bends" are from a rowdy group of kids who were practicing with different instruments outside the hotel where the album was recorded. When he heard the racket, Thom Yorke ran downstairs to record them.
6. Thom Yorke recorded the vocals of "Planet Telex" while lying on the floor. He was extremely drunk on wine.
7. "Street Spirit (Fade Out)" was originally called "Three-Headed Street Spirit." Here is the earliest version of the song, played in a segment on the French-Canadian music channel MusiquePlus.
8. Thom Yorke wrote "Creep" after being rejected by a girl he was in love with at Exeter University. According to Jonny Greenwood, the girl in question showed up at a concert the band played in Exeter: "Thom was mortified, because he's never spoken to her or anything. He just followed her for a couple of days or a week or whatever about two or three years ago. And here she was. He was very shaken up after that."
10. According to "Binary Theory," In Rainbows and OK Computer are intended to complement each other, and there are clues in both albums that point to this fact, notably that the working title of OK Computer was Zeroes and Ones and that In Rainbows came out on 10/10, 10 years after OK Computer. The playlist for this "lost Radiohead album" requires alternating tracks from each album (and switching the order of alternation at track 11).
11. We have Jeff Buckley to thank for Thom Yorke's glorious falsetto. According to The Bends producer John Leckie, after Yorke saw Jeff Buckley live he realized that "you could sing in a falsetto without sounding drippy."
12. The album title Pablo Honey is inspired by the '90s prank-calling TV show The Jerky Boys. In one Jerky Boys phone call (which is sampled on Pablo Honey's third track "How Do You"), a caller says, "Pablo, honey? Please come to Florida!"
13. In a long tradition of hating Radiohead's biggest hits, Thom has described "High and Dry" as "fucking dreadful."
15. The "kicking, screaming, Gucci little piggy" line in Paranoid Android is a reference to an actual encounter Thom Yorke had, with a woman who threw a fit after someone spilled a drink on her in a bar. "There was a look in this woman's eyes that I'd never seen before anywhere," he has said of the woman. "Couldn't sleep that night because of it."
16. "Just" originated as a competition between Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood to get as many chords as possible into one song.
17. Jonny Greenwood's signature guitar sounds on "Creep" came from him crunching the strings together as a protest because of how much he hated the song. To sabotage it during recording, Greenwood turned his distortion pedals all the way up and hit the strings as hard as he could, generating the now iconic crunch.
18. The Hollies song "The Air That I Breathe" has the same chord progression as "Creep," which is why Albert Hammond and Mike Hazlewood are credited as co-writers of the song in the liner notes to Pablo Honey.
19. Hail to the Thief's "I Will" and Amnesiac's "Like Spinning Plates" are the same song. The vocals to "Like Spinning Plates" came out of a moment when Thom Yorke heard the vocals to an early version of "I Will" played backward. He liked the sound so much that he learned how to sing the song backward and recorded it as "Like Spinning Plates."
20. Thom's first words to drummer Phil Selway at their inaugural rehearsal were "Can't you play any fucking faster?"
21. The single for "Creep" was initially something of a flop, until a DJ at a college radio station near San Francisco picked it up. It became an underground hit in the Bay Area, then California, and once the censored version was released, it became a mainstream hit in U.S.
22. The name of the band was originally On a Friday, for the day they met for practice while still at school, but they changed it to Radiohead in reference to the Talking Heads song "Radio Head."
23. The band met as teenagers at Abingdon School, a boys' school near Oxford, England, and have been playing together since 1985.
25. "Fake Plastic Trees" was recorded at the end of an extremely emotional and frustrating day in the studio where tensions were high and Thom Yorke had "shouted at everyone" and the producer sent them away. According to Jonny Greenwood, "Thom played it in three takes, then burst into tears afterward."
26. The lyrics to the chorus of "How to Disappear Completely" were given to Thom Yorke as a mantra by his friend Michael Stipe of R.E.M., as a way of dealing with anxiety on tour: "I'm not here, this isn't really happening."
27. "Fake Plastic Trees" made one of its first appearances in the movie Clueless. The song, which is playing on the radio, causes Cher to remark, "Yuck! Ugh — the maudlin music of the university station. What is it about college and crybaby music?"
28. "My Iron Lung" is a song about a song. Specifically, it's about how much Radiohead hated playing "Creep" over and over again after Pablo Honey was released. "Suck, suck your teenage thumb / Toilet trained and dumb / When the power runs out, we'll just hum / This, this is our new song / Just like the last one / A total waste of time, my iron lung."
30. There is a pre-Radiohead version of "High and Dry," recorded in 1989 when Thom Yorke was in a band called the Headless Chickens.
31. Thom Yorke has a phobia of driving stemming from a 1987 car accident, with the result that Radiohead may have more songs about car accidents than almost any other band, including "Airbag," "Stupid Car," and "Killer Cars." Thom Yorke also has a solo song about a car crash on his Spitting Feathers EP called "Drunkk Machine."
32. Thom Yorke's original title for Hail to the Thief was The Gloaming, but it was vetoed by the other members of the band, who felt it sounded too "prog rock."
33. The title track for The Bends was originally called "The Benz," but Radiohead mercifully decided that the wordplay was dumb.
34. Thom Yorke has claimed that "Black Star" is about "sex in the morning. Which is the best time to have it. As long as you've cleaned your teeth beforehand."
35. Guitarist Jonny Greenwood is also a respected classical composer and has written numerous pieces for orchestras, as well as the score for the film There Will Be Blood.
37. "True Love Waits" was originally recorded when Thom Yorke was first married. The fact that it has only now turned up as the final track on an album released following the end of his 23-year marriage is, well, devastating. The first word on A Moon Shaped Pool is "Stay" ... the last is "Leave."