OK Computer – Radiohead
Life is the pain we are accustomed to; when we’re aware of that, we like hearing it elsewhere. It is why my relationship with OK Computer is so complicated.
This record – and in many ways, the idol of Thom Yorke – represent loneliness at the extreme: the sounds are distant, ethereal; thick moments create space, rather than bring anything together. Yorke’s affected airiness takes you further into isolation, than closer to people. Songs like “Airbag,” “Karma Police,” and “Lucky” all sit in this gray murk of loneliness, that, for many people, is relatable. That’s why I love this record.
Further, this album was my 10th-grade life. I hear rainy nights in my parents’ cars, watching the murky blue suburbs slashed with orange when I listen to this album. I remember my weight, vacillating between too heavy and too light; I remember the nights in my room, playing guitar for an audience of none, and being comforted by that solitude. OK Computer was, and is, a comfort for me when I’m alone – or feel lonely – as that is its defining musical statement.
Musically it’s lush, in its bareness. The lyrics recall 1984; the song structures are novel, and it makes some truly interesting musical statements, within the pop music credo.However I’m sure you saw that coming a mile away.
My relationship with this record strains, as I grow older. Part of it is Radiohead fans, who can be absolutely insufferable; part of it is Thom Yorke, whose invitingly real isolation is also horribly off putting at times. More than that though, it is the changes I have gone through in the last nine years.
I still have those profound moments, where I’m taken back to my youth, and the music is still powerful, still relatable
When I listened to this record, with its monstrous soaring guitars, its intricate constructions, I was wowed by the technical proficiency. More than that, it fed my loneliness, which is my natural state of being. It made that unhealthy loneliness bearable. While that is, in many ways, a good thing, they don’t support that kind of isolation anymore. In the most horrifying words I will ever say: I’ve grown up. OK Computer has become more childish to me, as a result.
That loneliness, as hard as it is to escape – I still haven’t escaped it – is also selfish, toxic, querulous, and prefers to languish in obscurity, than have anything done about it. As I have grown, I have seen how detrimental it has been to myself.
But I still have those profound moments, where I’m taken back to my youth, and the music is still powerful, still relatable; and that itself is great. I just don’t blindly love it anymore. My opinion is complicated; my life is complicated
And I’m still getting accustomed to it.
Until a minute passes, and I find myself again.