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Thom Yorke

Yorke at the Latitude Festival, Suffolk, 2009.
Background information
Birth name Thomas Edward Yorke
Also known as Tchock,[1] Tchocky,[2][3] Dr. Tchock[4][5]
Born 7 October 1968 (1968-10-07) (age 41)
Wellingborough, Northamptonshire
Genres Alternative rock
Electronic
Occupations Musician
Instruments Vocals
Guitar
Piano
Keyboards
Percussion
Bass guitar
Programming
Drums
Years active 1985—present
Labels XL
Associated acts Radiohead, UNKLE, Björk, Thom Yorke's live band

Thomas Edward "Thom" Yorke (born 7 October 1968) is an English musician who is the lead singer and principal songwriter of the alternative rock group Radiohead. He mainly plays guitar and piano, but he has also played drums and bass guitar (notably during the Kid A and Amnesiac sessions). In July 2006, he released his debut solo album, The Eraser.

Yorke has been cited among the most influential figures in the music industry; in 2002, Q Magazine named Yorke the 6th most powerful figure in music,[6] and Radiohead were ranked #73 in Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Artists of All Time" in 2005. Also Yorke has been cited among the greatest singers in popular music; in 2005, a poll organised by Blender and MTV2 saw Yorke voted the 18th greatest singer of all time,[7] and in 2008 he was ranked 66th in Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Singers of all Time."[8]

Contents

Life and career

Early years

Yorke was born on 7 October, 1968, in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire. At birth, his left eye was fixed shut; the doctors determined that the eye was paralyzed and that the condition was permanent. Yorke's parents took him to an eye specialist, who suggested a muscle graft. Yorke underwent five eye operations before he was six years old.[9] Yorke's father, a chemical equipment salesman, was hired by a firm in Scotland shortly after his son's birth and the family lived there until Yorke was seven. During this time Yorke had to wear a patch over his eye.[10] He has stated that the last surgery was "botched," giving him a drooping eyelid.[11]

Yorke's family moved frequently; Yorke would move from school to school, where classmates teased him because of his eye problems.[12] The family finally settled in Oxfordshire in 1978.[12] Yorke received his first guitar when he was seven, inspired by guitarist Brian May in a live performance with his band Queen.[11] By age eleven he had joined his first band and written his first song.[13] He attended the all boys public school Abingdon where he met future band members Ed O'Brien, Phil Selway, Colin Greenwood and Colin's younger brother, Jonny Greenwood.[14] Yorke and his friends formed a band named On A Friday, as Friday was the only day on which the members were allowed to rehearse.[11] Yorke, in this early line up, played guitar and provided vocals, and was already developing his songwriting and lyrical skills. Yorke, speaking about music's influence on him as a schoolboy, said, "School was bearable for me because the music department was separate from the rest of the school. It had pianos in tiny booths, and I used to spend a lot of time hanging around there after school."[15]

After leaving school, Yorke postponed going to university for a year. During that time he worked a few jobs and was involved in a car accident that made him wary of any kind of mechanized transport.[16] Yorke left Oxford to study at the University of Exeter in late 1988, which as a result put On a Friday on hiatus aside from holiday break rehearsals.[17] Whilst at Exeter, Yorke worked as a DJ at Guild nights in the Lemon Grove and played briefly with the band Headless Chickens.[18] Yorke also met Rachel Owen, whom he began dating.[19]

Radiohead

On A Friday resumed activity in 1991 as the members were finishing their degree courses. Now relocated to Oxford, they signed to Parlophone and changed their name to Radiohead. Around this time, Yorke said he "hit the self-destruct button pretty quickly"; he would drink alcohol heavily, which resulted in him randomly cutting his hair off and being unable to perform onstage due to intoxication.[20] Radiohead first gained notice with the worldwide hit single "Creep," which later appeared on the band's 1993 debut album Pablo Honey. Yorke admitted later that the success had enlarged his ego; he tried to project himself as a rock star, which included bleaching his hair and wearing extensions. He said, "When I got back to Oxford I was unbearable . . . [A]s soon as you get any success you disappear up your own arse and lost it forever."[21]

By the time of their second album, The Bends (1995), the band, through frequent touring and greater attention to detail in the recording studio, had picked up a large cult fan base and had begun to receive wider critical acclaim. After the album's release, the American group R.E.M. picked Radiohead as its opening act for the European leg of their tour.[22] Whilst on tour Yorke and R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe became close friends; in particular, Stipe gave him advice on how to deal with the demands of being in a rock band.[23] During the production of the band's third album, OK Computer (1997), all five members had differing opinions and equal production roles, with Yorke having "the loudest voice," according to guitarist Ed O'Brien.[24] After the album was finished, Yorke and Jonny Greenwood contributed to the Velvet Goldmine soundtrack along with other musicians under the moniker Venus in Furs.[25] Upon release, OK Computer was heralded as a landmark album by nearly every publication that reviewed it, establishing Radiohead as one of the leading alternative rock acts of the 1990s. But Yorke was ambivalent about this success. Some of these concerns were voiced in the documentary film Meeting People Is Easy, which focused on the period. Yorke has explained in various interviews that he dislikes the "mythology" within the rock genre, and hates the media's obsession with celebrities.[26]

Yorke and the band adopted a more radical approach on 2000's Kid A and 2001's Amnesiac, processing vocals, obscuring lyrics, and departing from rock for a more varied musical landscape including electronic, jazz and avant-garde classical influences. Expanding Radiohead's sales whilst earning acclaim for experimentation, the albums also divided fans and critics. In 2003, Radiohead released their sixth album, Hail to the Thief, a blend of rock and electronica that Yorke described as a reaction to the events of the early 2000s and newfound fears for his children's future, though he denied a specific political intent. The band has continued to tour, and in 2005 they undertook recording sessions for a seventh album, In Rainbows, released as a digital DRM-free download in October 2007.

Solo work

Yorke released his solo album The Eraser in 2006. Produced by Nigel Godrich and featuring cover art by Stanley Donwood, it was released on the independent label XL Recordings. Yorke described the album as "more beats and electronics" and denied that it meant he was leaving Radiohead, saying, "I want no crap about me being a traitor or whatever splitting up blah blah... this was all done with their blessing."[27] The Eraser reached number 3 in the UK in its first week and number 2 in the United States, Canada and Australia, as well as number 9 on the Irish charts. The album was on the prestigious Mercury Prize shortlist and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album.

Yorke rarely plays as a solo act, having never embarked on a solo tour. He has sometimes played short acoustic sets of Radiohead songs in the band's webcasts and television appearances, and occasionally on his own at rallies. In 2006 he performed stripped-down versions of several songs from The Eraser ("Analyse," "The Clock, " "Skip Divided" and "Cymbal Rush") on radio and TV programmes, and since then he has played and sung "Cymbal Rush" as an encore at some Radiohead concerts. In July 2009, Yorke played a rare solo performance at the Latitude Festival in England. [28]

On September 21, Yorke released a new double-A side single, "Feeling Pulled Apart by Horses / The Hollow Earth". [29] It was later announced that he has established an unnamed band with Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Joey Waronker of R.E.M. and Beck, Mauro Refosco of Forro in the Dark and producer Nigel Godrich.[30] They played two sold out shows at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles on October 4 and 5, 2009.[31] Two days before, Yorke also played a "warm-up" show at the Echoplex in Los Angeles.[32]

Collaborations

Aside from his own solo work, Yorke has collaborated with several artists. He sang backing vocals on PJ Harvey's Mercury Prize-winning 2000 album Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea and duetted with Harvey on one of its songs, "This Mess We're In." In the same year, he also appeared on Björk's soundtrack album Selmasongs, singing "I've Seen It All" with her. The Oscar-nominated song was written for Dancer in the Dark, a film starring Björk, and Yorke's part is sung in the film by an actor; due to time constraints Björk performed it alone at the 2001 Oscars. The two worked together again in 2008 on a charity single named "Náttúra."

Yorke also sang covers of the Roxy Music songs "2HB," "Ladytron" and "Bitter-Sweet" for the 1998 film Velvet Goldmine, as part of Venus in Furs. The band existed solely for the film's soundtrack and also consisted of Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood, Suede's Bernard Butler, and Roxy Music's Andy Mackay. Yorke was duplicating the original vocals of Bryan Ferry. Two other cover songs were performed by Venus in Furs, with vocals by an actor in the film. Yorke never appeared on screen.

Examples of Yorke's other collaborations are the 1998 single "Rabbit in Your Headlights," which he sang and co-wrote with DJ Shadow and which closes Psyence Fiction, the debut album by the group UNKLE; "El President," a 1998 duet with Isabel Monteiro of the band Drugstore, which was also released as a single; and vocals on the 2007 track "The White Flash," by the electronic music group Modeselektor, from their album Happy Birthday. Yorke has also collaborated with Stanley Donwood on a picture book titled 'Dead Children Playing.' Yorke also plans to collaborate with Jack White.

Personal life

Yorke currently lives in Oxford with his girlfriend, Rachel Owen, who studied fine art printmaking at Exeter and painting at the Accademia di Belle Arti, Florence. She completed a PhD at the University of London researching the illustrations to Dante's Divine Comedy.[33] They have two children, Noah, born in 2001, and Agnes, born 2004. He has one brother, Andy, ex-vocalist of the band Unbelievable Truth. Yorke is also very active in creating public awareness for cultural and political issues. In 2005, Yorke became a spokesman for Friends of the Earth and their campaign to reduce carbon emissions, The Big Ask. Yorke often pays tribute to his children whilst performing live; during songs at the 2003 Glastonbury Festival, he played with a photo of Noah resting on the top of the piano.

Musical approach

Vocal characteristics

Thom Yorke in 2006

As a singer, Yorke is recognisable by his distinctive tenor voice, vibrato, frequent use of falsetto and ability to reach, and sustain notes over a wide vocal range. Without use of falsetto, his range on record spans E2[34] - C5,[35] but he has been known to sing as high as Gb5 in live performances.[36] His falsetto spans to Gb6.[37] During the recording sessions for The Bends in 1994, the band watched Jeff Buckley in concert; Yorke later said the concert had a direct effect on his vocal delivery on "Fake Plastic Trees."[38] However, Yorke has said, "It annoys me how pretty my voice is... how polite it can sound when perhaps what I'm singing is deeply acidic."[39] He has often adopted other styles of singing, such as an aggressive shouting style in the middle section of "Paranoid Android" and a semi-spoken style for 2003's "Myxomatosis" and "A Wolf at the Door." Yorke is frequently cited among the greatest singers in popular music; in 2005, Blender magazine named Yorke the 18th greatest singer of all time,[7] and in 2008 he was ranked #66 in Rolling Stone magazine's "100 Greatest Singers of all Time."[8]

Musicianship

Aside from vocal duties and writing lyrics, Yorke's musical contributions to Radiohead include guitar, both acoustic and electric (usually rhythm parts, with band member Jonny Greenwood handling lead), and piano (including Rhodes piano, especially on Kid A). He also plays bass guitar on occasion (the bass line for "The National Anthem" was recorded by him) as well as drums; during the 2006 and 2008 tours he performed percussion on stage in tandem with drummer Phil Selway on the track "Bangers & Mash."

Yorke, unlike the other members of Radiohead, has never learned how to read music.[40] He said, "If someone lays the notes on a page in front of me, it's meaningless... because to me you can't express the rhythms properly like that. It's a very ineffective way of doing it, so I've never really bothered picking it up."[39]

Since Kid A, Radiohead, and in particular Yorke, have incorporated many elements of electronic music into their work. As a result, Yorke has taken an increased role in programming beats and samples and has been credited with playing "laptop" on recent albums. On a radio show in 2003 to publicise the release of Hail to the Thief, Yorke remarked that he would rather make a record just with a computer than with only an acoustic guitar.[41] His solo effort The Eraser featured piano, bass and guitar, but was built primarily around electronics.

In interviews Yorke has cited a variety of personal musical heroes and influences, including jazz composer and bassist Charles Mingus, Neil Young, Miracle Legion, singer Scott Walker, electronic acts Aphex Twin and Autechre, and Krautrock band Can. Talking Heads, Queen, Joy Division, Magazine, Elvis Costello, The Smiths and Sonic Youth were early influences on Radiohead and Yorke. In 2004, at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Yorke mentioned to the crowd, "When I was in college, the Pixies and R.E.M. changed my life,"[42] and he has often mentioned both bands as examples.

Activism

Yorke has been outspoken on various contemporary political and social issues. Radiohead had read No Logo by Naomi Klein during the Kid A sessions ("No Logo" was also briefly considered as the album title) and all the members were reportedly heavily influenced by it, though Yorke said it "didn't teach him anything he didn't already know."[43] Yorke's activism in support of fair trade practices, with an anti-WTO and anti-globalisation stance, garnered significant attention in the early 2000s.[44] Yorke had previously referenced maquiladoras in the title of a Radiohead B-side in 1995, and decried the IMF in 1997's "Electioneering." Yorke is also a professed fan of Noam Chomsky's political writings,[45] and is a vegan.[46]

Yorke is also notable as a political activist on behalf of other causes, including human rights and anti-war movements such as Jubilee 2000, Amnesty International and CND, and Friends of the Earth's Big Ask campaign.[47] Radiohead played at the Free Tibet concert in both 1998 and 1999, and at an Amnesty International concert in 1998.[48] In 2005 Yorke performed at an all-night vigil for the Trade Justice Movement.[49] In 2006, Jonny Greenwood and Yorke performed a special benefit concert for Friends of the Earth. Yorke made headlines the same year for refusing Prime Minister Tony Blair's request to meet with him to discuss climate change, declaring Blair had "no environmental credentials."[50] Yorke has subsequently been critical of his own energy use. He has said the music industry's use of air transport is dangerous and unsustainable, and that he would consider not touring if new carbon emissions standards do not force the situation to improve.[51] Radiohead commissioned a study by the group Best Foot Forward which the band claims helped them choose venues and transport methods that will greatly reduce the carbon expended on their 2008 tour. The band also made use of a new low-energy LED lighting system and encouraged festivals to offer reusable plastics.[52]

In December 2009, Yorke gained access to the COP 15 climate change talks in Copenhagen, posing as a member of the media.[53]

Relationship with celebrities and the media

Yorke has had an uneasy relationship with other celebrities and the media. Following Radiohead's 1993 Pablo Honey tour of America, Yorke became disenchanted at being "right at the sharp end of the sexy, sassy, MTV eye-candy lifestyle" he felt he was helping to sell to the world.[54] The 1998 documentary film Meeting People is Easy portrays Yorke's disaffection with the music industry and press during the 1997-8 "Against Demons" world tour.[55]

A number of celebrities have been upset by Yorke's alleged rudeness. In 2001, Kelly Jones, the lead singer of the Welsh band Stereophonics, referred to Thom Yorke as a "miserable twat"[56] (a comment he later retracted[57]). In 2002, Jack Black claimed to have approached Yorke to congratulate him on his solo show at the Bridge School benefit concert in San Francisco, only for Yorke to ignore him and walk away. Referring to the incident, Black stated in an interview: "I heard later that he's famously cold, and it wasn't just me that he despises, but the whole world."[58] After completing a trek of Kilimanjaro in 2009, Ronan Keating was asked by an interviewer which celebrity he would most like to throw off a mountain. Keating named Yorke, and referred to him as a "muppet," stating that Yorke was once rude to him, although he did admit to still liking his music.[59] In the same year, Miley Cyrus and Kanye West also complained about Yorke's alleged rudeness.[60]

Discography

References

  • Randall, Mac. Exit Music: The Radiohead Story. Delta, 2000. ISBN 0-385-33393-5

Notes

  1. ^ "All messed up". guardian.co.uk. 2006-06-18. http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2006/jun/18/9. Retrieved 2009-07-09.  
  2. ^ "Thom Yorke to exhibit Radiohead artwork?". NME. 2006-11-13. http://www.nme.com/news/thomyorke/25051. Retrieved 2009-07-09.  
  3. ^ "AllMusic - Tchocky - Overview". allmusic.com. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:f9fwxqq0ldje. Retrieved 2009-07-09.  
  4. ^ Force, Chris (2007-09-11). "Thom Yorke, Longtime Radiohead Artist Issue Art Collection". alarmpress.com. http://www.alarmpress.com/1099/book-reviews/dead-children-playing. Retrieved 2009-07-09.  
  5. ^ Jones, Alice (2009-03-25). "The Dark Art of Radiohead". independent.co.uk. http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/features/the-dark-art-of-radiohead-1653241.html. Retrieved 2009-07-09.  
  6. ^ Bono is most powerful music star
  7. ^ a b Blender Magazine's 22 Greatest Voices
  8. ^ a b "100 Greatest Singers Of All Time". The Rolling Stone. http://www.rollingstone.com/news/coverstory/greatestsingers/page/66. Retrieved 2009-02-21.  
  9. ^ Randall, p. 19
  10. ^ Randall, p. 20
  11. ^ a b c McLean, Craig (2006-06-18). "All messed up". The Observer. http://observer.guardian.co.uk/omm/story/0,,1795948,00.html. Retrieved 2007-03-26.  
  12. ^ a b Randall, p. 21
  13. ^ Randall, p. 23
  14. ^ Randall, p. 26–33
  15. ^ Ross, Alex (2001-08-21). "The Searchers: Radiohead's unquiet revolution". The New Yorker. http://www.therestisnoise.com/2004/04/mahler_1.html. Retrieved 2007-03-26.  
  16. ^ Randall, p. 38–39
  17. ^ Randall, p. 43
  18. ^ Randall, p. 48
  19. ^ Randall, p. 52
  20. ^ Randall, p.87
  21. ^ Randall, p. 120
  22. ^ Randall, p. 177
  23. ^ randall, p. 178
  24. ^ Randall, p. 195
  25. ^ Randall, p. 200
  26. ^ "Yorke derides mainstream music". NME. 2006-04-05. http://www.nme.com/news/radiohead/22692. Retrieved 2008-07-17.  
  27. ^ "All Messed Up: Blackpool". The Guardian. 2006-05-12. http://observer.guardian.co.uk/omm/story/0,,1795948,00.html. Retrieved 2008-07-17.  
  28. ^ "Latitude - Latest News - 08.06.09 - Thom Yorke". 2008-06-08. http://www.latitudefestival.co.uk/news/index.aspx. Retrieved 2009-06-17.  
  29. ^ Thom Yorke confirms new single
  30. ^ http://radiohead.com/deadairspace/index.php?a=505
  31. ^ "Thom Yorke Has a New Band". 2009-09-28. http://www.greenplastic.com/2009/09/28/thom-yorke-has-a-new-band/. Retrieved 2009-10-23.  
  32. ^ "Echoplex Show Confirmed!". 2009-10-01. http://www.greenplastic.com/2009/10/01/echoplex-show-confirmed/. Retrieved 2009-10-23.  
  33. ^ [1]
  34. ^ "Skip Divided", The Eraser (2006)
  35. ^ "You", Pablo Honey (1993)
  36. ^ "Anyone Can Play Guitar", Sound City, Anson Rooms, Bristol; April 19, 1995
  37. ^ "I'm Coming Up", On A Friday demo, Courtyard Studios, 1991
  38. ^ "greenplastic". http://www.greenplastic.com/lyrics/fakeplastictrees.php. Retrieved 2008-07-17.  
  39. ^ a b "With Radiohead, and Alone, the Sweet Malaise of Thom Yorke". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/02/arts/music/02pare.html. Retrieved 2008-09-27.  
  40. ^ Happy now?, June 2001, http://www.followmearound.com/presscuttings.php?year=2001&cutting=121, retrieved 2009-02-21  
  41. ^ Jo Whiley's Radio 1 show, 2003.
  42. ^ "Pixies dust Coachella music fest with magic". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/pop/171708_coachella04.html. Retrieved 2008-07-17.  
  43. ^ "Q Magazine - October 2000 - By Danny Eccleston". Q magazine. 2000. http://www.followmearound.com/presscuttings.php?year=2000&cutting=89. Retrieved 2008-07-17.  
  44. ^ Yorke, Thom (2003-09-08). "Losing the faith". The Guardian (TheGuardian.com). http://www.guardian.co.uk/wto/article/0,2763,1035805,00.html. Retrieved 2007-04-15.  
  45. ^ "Brian Draper's interview with Thom Yorke for Third Way". The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity. 2005-07-01. http://www.licc.org.uk/culture/thom-yorke-interview. Retrieved 2008-07-17.  
  46. ^ "MTV interview: Radiohead: A New Life". MTV.com. 2007. http://www.mtv.com/bands/r/radiohead/news_feature_061903/. Retrieved 2008-10-31.  
  47. ^ "Thom Yorke and 'The Big Ask'", Friends of the Earth. Retrieved 16 May 2006.
  48. ^ "Interview". Shambhala Sun Magazine. http://www.shambhalasun.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1957&Itemid=0. Retrieved 2008-07-17.  
  49. ^ "Radiohead decline Live 8 request". BBC. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/4070550.stm. Retrieved 2008-07-17.  
  50. ^ "Radiohead singer snubs Blair climate talks". The Guardian. http://arts.guardian.co.uk/news/story/0,,1736527,00.html. Retrieved 2008-07-17.  
  51. ^ "Rock tours damaging environment, says Radiohead singer". The Guardian. http://arts.guardian.co.uk/news/story/0,,1924075,00.html. Retrieved 2008-07-17.  
  52. ^ Scholtus, Petz (2008-06-18). "Radiohead Pushes Festivals Like Daydream to Go Green". Treehugger. http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/06/radiohead-daydream-festival-led-lighting.php. Retrieved 2009-02-21.  
  53. ^ "Radiohead's Yorke sneaks into Copenhagen climate talks". BBC News. 2009-12-17. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/8419641.stm. Retrieved 2010-01-11.  
  54. ^ Reynolds, Simon (June 2001), "Walking on Thin Ice", The Wire  
  55. ^ Randall, Mac (1998-04-01), "The Golden Age of Radiohead", Guitar World  
  56. ^ Hodgkinson, Will (2007-10-14), Soundtrack of my life: Kelly Jones, http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2007/oct/14/popandrock, retrieved 2009-03-22  
  57. ^ http://www.contactmusic.com/new/xmlfeed.nsf/mndwebpages/kelly%20jones%20begs%20thom%20yorke.s%20forgiveness
  58. ^ Foley, Jack (2003). "The School of Rock - Jack Black Q&A". indielondon.co.uk. http://www.indielondon.co.uk/film/school_of_rock_blackQ&A.html. Retrieved 2009-04-26.  
  59. ^ Ronan Keating blasts Radiohead 'muppet' Thom Yorke, 2009-03-22, http://www.monstersandcritics.com/people/news/article_1466069.php/Ronan_Keating_blasts_Yorke, retrieved 2009-03-22  
  60. ^ NME: "Radiohead Respond To Miley Cyrus and Kanye West’s Post-Snub Tantrums"

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Thomas Edward Yorke (born October 7, 1968 in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, England) is a musician and the lead singer of the English rock band Radiohead.

Contents

Sourced

  • Q: Does commercial success matter to you?
"It matters. It's as much as you can ask for. The rest is bullshit."
Q: Success is part of what you want when you start writing?
"Jonny goes on and on about this. Anybody who claims they write for *themselves is a liar. Everyone has an audience in mind. The only reason any artist would carry on is in the faith that one day somebody would see or hear their work." source
  • "Alternative rock needs bludgeoning to death on a big stick and left on a bridge to warn passers-by." source
  • "The video of 'Paranoid Android' has been censored by MTV. They took all nipples out of the cartoon, but they had no problem with the scene in which a man cuts off his own arms and legs." source
  • "What worries me more than anything else is the whole notion that I'm who people focus on, like it's of significance, you know? People look at me and think that it's a complete existence. What really fucks me up in the head is that basically I'm supposed to be endorsing this sort of pop star, 'Wow, lucky bastard, he's got it all' existence. What frightens me is the idea that what Radiohead does is basically packaged back to people in the form of entertainment, to play in their car stereos on their way to work.
And that's not why I started this but then I should shut the fuck up because it's pop music and it's not anything more than that. But I got into music, because I naively thought that pop music was basically the only viable art form left, because the art world is run by a few very extremely, um, privileged people and is ultimately corrupt and barren of any context. And I thought that the pop music industry was different and I was fucking wrong, because I went to the Brits and I saw it everywhere and it's the same thing. It's a lot of women who couldn't fit in their cocktail dresses and lots of men in black ties who essentially didn't want to be there, but were. And I was there and we were all committing the same offence. All my favourite artists are people who never seem to be involved in the industry and I found myself getting involved in it, and I felt really ashamed to be there." source
  • "I don't think young people are as demoralized as the media and government would like us to think. The obvious sign of that is how strong and how close personal connections are and how much people are able to build a life for themselves, despite all this stuff that's been thrown at them." source
  • Q: Radiohead fans tend to be extremely devoted to the band - they seem to connect with your music and ideals. What do you see as the major aspects of your music which people connect with so well?
A: To be really truthful I don't see it myself. When we play soemthing new, we don't know how people will react. If I show an idea to the rest of the band I'm terrified if they will respond or not. They are the same. It always amazes me how complex this remains. There was a time when we could make the correct moves and the required response. And that was the time when the shine started to fade. Do people connect with our ideals? I dont know, surely encouraging people to make informed decisions is more useful? ignorance is the biggest problem isnt it? we are no purer than anyone else, no smarter. Equally we are not little rag dolls you play with but say nothing and go back in the box when you're finished with us." source
  • "The sad thing is, if an issue is laughed at and patronised by mainstream media, then it's up against it big-time. I read some journalist recently lecturing the anti-globalisation lobby, saying, 'This is the way capitalism works, all capitalism is exploitation and to make it try and do something else, it's never gonna happen.' And it's like, yeah, but where does that leave us? This is somehow God's will? All this? It's God's will that we sit in traffic? It's God's will that millions of people are gonna die this year because of some outmoded economic policies? No, it's not! It's like some deranged sacrificial altar, the high priests of the global economy holding up these millions of children each year, like (Arms aloft) 'We wish to please you! Oh Gods of free trade!' It's like... give us all a fucking break! If there is a Devil at work, then he rests in institutions and not in individuals. Because the beauty of institutions is that any individual can abdicate responsibility. The assumption that we're all utterly powerless, that's the Devil at work." source
  • "I wouldn't be involved with it [pop music] if I wasn't aware that it was going to be a product. I always wanted whatever I did to end up in the high street, no matter what it was, because to me, there isn't anywhere else to go. It's pointless." source
  • "We're at a time when we are being presented with undeniable changes in the global climate and fundamental issues that affect every single one of us, and it's the time we're listening to the most hokey shite on the radio and watching vacuous bullshit celebrities being vacuous bullshit celebrities and desperately trying to forget about everything. Which is fine, you know, but personally speaking, I can't do that." source
  • "It annoys me how pretty my voice is...that sounds incredibly immodest, but it annoys me how polite it can sound when perhaps what I'm singing is deeply acidic." - source
  • "There's nothing more boring than a rock'n'roll star, someone who has been on the road for 10 years, expecting attention wherever he goes, drinking himself stupid, who is obnoxious, incoherent, uncreative and has a massive ego. There's nothing more pointless." - source
  • (on his inability to read music) "If someone lays the notes on a page in front of me, it's meaningless...because to me you can't express the rhythms properly like that. It's a very ineffective way of doing it, so I've never really bothered picking it up." source
  • (about people's image of him) "I think that has a lot to do with the expression that's on my face. People are born with certain faces, like my father was born with a face that people want to hit. (laughs) source
  • wish us all a safe journey if you still like us and you're not one of those people i have managed to offend by doing nothing source
  • "I haven't done enough. I don't have solar panels on my house yet. I haven't sorted out the heating, my car's not a Prius, I f---ing fly all the time for my job and I hate it but at the moment I haven't really got a choice, you know, and all these things. The job I'm in is a job that wastes energy left, right and centre. It's madness." source
  • "It's like a supply and demand thing. It's like 'Well, this is what they want me to do, this is what they want to hear. So I'll do more of this, cuz this is great... and they love me.' Suddenly people start giving you money as well. So then you've got money and you get used to this lifestyle. And you don't wanna take any risks cuz they've got you by the balls, and you've got all these little things that you've bought, or you're attached to. And you start spending all this money... And that's how they get ya!" - source
  • "I didn't really come into it expecting to make songs. It started just with random bits and pieces. I guess I thought there would be vocals, but I was thinking in terms of using little vocal shreds, and of making them part of the tapestry, not the main thing. But as soon as we had gone through the initial sketches, it became obvious that they could be quite direct. Nigel basically dragged me kicking and screaming toward the concept of them being actual songs." - source
    • On making The Eraser.
  • "You think I have the responsibilty... I have the responsibility to give the fans a good time! (nods at camera, then pauses)... that just sounds... kinky." - source
  • "My big problem with corporate structure is this bizarre sense of loyalty you're supposed to feel -- towards what is basically a virus. It grows or dies, like any virus. And you use it for your own selfish ends." - source
    • On the record industry.
  • "The difference between me and Bono is that he's quite happy to go and flatter people to get what he wants and he's very good at it, but I just can't do it. I'd probably end up punching them in the face rather than shaking their hand, so it's best that I stay out of their way. I can't engage with that level of bullshit. Which is a shame, really, and in a way it would help if I could, but I just can't. I admire the fact that Bono can, and can walk away from it smelling of roses." - source
  • "The thing that worries me about the computer age is the fact that people know so much about you. It's an incredible invasion of privacy. And no matter where you are in the world people can monitor you if you're using your credit card. I heard this weird rumor on the Internet about how the military is funding this great big research project and basically, they believe that in the future, the balance of power won't be determined by who has the most nuclear weapons, but by who has all the information. I'm not afraid of being taken over by computers though, because the thing is, computers cannot resist. You can always smash 'em up, and they're totally defenseless. All we need are more people with hammers." - source
  • "It's basically [about] having to make a decision whether to do nothing or try to engage with it in some way, knowing that it's flawed. It's convenient to project that back on to someone personally and say they're a hypocrite. It's a lot easier to do that than actually do anything else. And yeah, that stresses me out, because I am a hypocrite. As we all are."
  • "Initially when it came up I tried to be pragmatic. But Blair has no environmental credentials as far as I'm concerned. I came out of that whole period just thinking, I don't want to get involved directly, it's poison. I'll just shout my mouth off from the sidelines." - source
    • On rejecting the opportunity to meet Tony Blair for a campaign to lobby government to help stop climate change.
  • "I think the most important thing about music is the sense of escape." - source
  • "I grew up under Thatcher. I grew up believing that I was fundamentally powerless. Then gradually over the years it occurred to me that this was actually a very convenient myth for the state." source
  • "Sometimes the nicest thing to do with a guitar is just look at it." source
  • "People sometimes say we take things too seriously, but it’s the only way you’ll get anywhere. We’re not going to sit around and wait and just be happy if something turns up. We are ambitious. You have to be." (in his first-ever interview, 1991) source

Lyrics

Pablo Honey (1993)

  • But I'm a creep
    I'm a weirdo
    What the hell am I doing here
    I don't belong here
    • "Creep"

The Bends (1995)

  • I want to live, breathe,
    I want to be part of the human race,
    • The Bends
  • Drying up in conversation,
    You will be the one who cannot talk,
    All your insides fall to pieces,
    You just sit there wishing you could still make love.
    • High and Dry
  • Her green plastic watering can
    For a fake Chinese rubber plant
    In the fake plastic earth.
    • Fake Plastic Trees
  • He used to do surgery
    On girls in the eighties,
    But gravity always wins.
    • Fake Plastic Trees
  • She looks like the real thing,
    She tastes like the real thing,
    My fake plastic love.
    But I can't help the feeling,
    I could blow through the ceiling
    If I just turned and ran.
    • Fake Plastic Trees
  • You do it to yourself, you do,
    And that's what really hurts,
    Is you do it to yourself, just you,
    You and no-one else,
    You do it to yourself.
    • Just
  • Rows of houses, all bearing down on me,
    I can feel their blue hands touching me,
    All these things into position,
    All these things we'll one day swallow whole.
    And fade out again,
    And fade out...
    • Street Spirit (Fade Out)
  • Immerse your soul in love
    • Street Spirit (Fade Out)

OK Computer (1997)

  • In an interstellar burst
    I am back to save the universe
  • In a fast German car
    I'm amazed that I survived
    An airbag saved my life
    • "Airbag"
  • Ambition makes you look pretty ugly
    Kicking and squealing gucci little piggy
    • "Paranoid Android"
  • Far up above, aliens hover
    Making home movies for the folks back home
    Of all these weird creatures that lock up their spirits
    Drill holes in themselves and live for their secrets
    • "Subterranean Homesick Alien"
  • And you can laugh
    A spineless laugh
    We hope your rules and wisdom choke you
    And now we are one
    In everlasting peace
    We hope that you choke, that you choke
    • "Exit Music (For a Film)"
  • Karma police
    I've given all I can
    It's not enough
    I've given all I can
    But we're still on the payroll
  • For a minute there
    I lost myself
    • "Karma Police"
  • At a better pace
    Slower and more calculated
    No chance of escape
    • "Fitter Happier"
  • Dont get sentimental, It always ends up drivel.
    • "Let Down"
  • When I go forwards, you go backwards
    And somewhere we will meet
    • "Electioneering"
  • I'll take a quiet life
    And a handshake of carbon monoxide
    And no alarms and no surprises
    • "No Surprises"
  • The head of state
    Has called for me by name
    But I don't have time for him
    It's gonna be a glorious day
    I feel my luck could change
    • "Lucky"

Kid A (2000)

  • What was that you tried to say?
    • "Everything In Its Right Place"
  • Everyone has got the fear
    It's holding on
    Holding on
    • "The National Anthem"
  • That there
    That's not me
    I go
    Where I please
    I walk through walls
    I float down the Liffey
  • I'm not here
    This isn't happening
    • "How to Disappear Completely
  • We're not scare-mongering
    This is really happening
    • "Idioteque"

Amnesiac (2001)

  • Jumped in the river, what did I see?
    Black-eyed angels swam with me
    A moonful of stars and astral cars
    And all the figures I used to see
    All my lovers were there with me
    All my past and futures
    And we all went to heaven in a little row boat
    There was nothing to fear and nothing to doubt
    • "Pyramid Song"
  • While you make pretty speeches
    I'm being cut to shreds
    You feed me to the lions
    A delicate balance
    • "Like Spinning Plates"

Hail to the Thief (2003)

  • It's the devil's way now
    There is no way out
    You can scream and you can shout
    It is too late now
    • "2+2=5"
  • In pitch dark I go walkin' in your landscape
    Broken branches trip me as I speak
    Just 'cause you feel it doesn’t mean it’s there
  • We are accidents waiting
    Waiting to happen
    • "There There"
  • Are you hungry?
    Are you sick?
    Are you begging for a break?
    Are you sweet?
    Are you fresh?
    Are you strung up by the wrists?
    • "We Suck Young Blood"
  • I keep the wolf from the door
    But he calls me up
    Calls me on the phone
    Tells me all the ways that he's gonna mess me up
    Steal all my children
    If I don't pay the ransom
    And I'll never see 'em again
    If I squeal to the cops
    • "A Wolf at the Door"

The Eraser (2006)

  • The more you try to erase me
    The more, the more
    The more that I appear
    • "The Eraser"
  • Time is running out for us
    But you just move the hands upon the clock
    You throw coins in the wishing well
    For us
    You just move your hands upon the wall
    • "The Clock"
  • One little leak becomes a lake,
    Says the tiny voice in my earpiece
    • "And It Rained All Night"
  • You cannot kickstart a dead horse
    • "Black Swan"
  • I can't take their pressure
    No one cares if you live or die
    They just want me gone
    They want me gone
  • Did I fall or was I pushed?
    Did I fall or was I pushed?
    And where's the blood?
    • "Harrowdown Hill"

In Rainbows (2007)

  • How come I end up where I started?
    How come I end up where I went wrong?
  • You used to be alright
    What happened?
    • 15 Step
  • I have no idea what I am talking about
    I'm trapped in this body and can't get out
    • Bodysnachers
  • Don't get any big ideas,
    They're not gonna happen.
    • Nude
  • You'll go to hell for what your dirty mind is thinking.
    • Nude
  • I'm the next act waiting in the wings,
    I'm an animal trapped in your hot car,
    I am all the days that you choose to ignore,
    You are all I need,
    You're all I need,
    I'm in the middle of your picture,
    Lying in the reeds.
    • All I Need
  • You are my centre when I spin away.
    • Videotape

Unsourced

  • "I think we're entering a very dangerous time. The West has set itself up, decided it's in charge, not for good intentions, not for the benefit of mankind. The people in charge, globally, are maniacs. They are maniacs, and unless we do something about it these people are going to deprive us of a future. And I know I'm paranoid and neurotic, I've made a career out of it. Hoorah. Most people don't even have time to think about it. People who watch MTV don't think about it, I don't have time to think about it. Luckily, I'm paranoid and neurotic, so I make the time."
  • "You will never make friends unless you like everyone genuinely. Oh well, I'm fucked then aren't I?"
  • "The others (Radiohead) were all brought up to be polite. I wasn't."
  • "They didn´t let us play at the Grammy awards cause they thought we weren´t good for the ratings. We were so happy, man..."
  • "I'm not afraid of computers taking over the world. They're just sitting there. I can hit them with a two by four"
  • "I can be very drunk in a club in Oxford on a Monday night and some guy comes up to you and buys you a drink and says that the last record you made changed his life. That means something."
  • "It's why we play it towards the end of our sets. It drains me, and it shakes me, and hurts like hell everytime I play it, looking out at thousands of people cheering and smiling, oblivious to the tragedy of it's meaning, like when you're going to have your dog put down and it's wagging it's tail on the way there. That's what they all look like, and it breaks my heart.
  • "I wish that song hadn't picked us as its catalysts, and so I don't claim it. It asks too much. (very long pause). I didn't write that song." - on Street Spirit (Fade Out)
  • "So far, this is disco." - Live performance of Everything in Its Right Place (YouTube video)
  • "Radiohead run like the UN, and I'm America."
  • "They're a joke aren't they? It's just lots of middle class people applauding a bunch of guys who act stupid and write really primitive music. Then people say 'oh it's so honest" Couldn't have put it any better." - On the band Oasis.
  • "It's always confused the living shit out of me that people can shag to our music. But people do apparently. Paranoid Android. This girl comes up to me, she bangs to Paranoid Android. How?"
  • (When told that many new bands are making a name for themselves by just simply copying radioheads first three albums) "Good luck with Kid A!"

External links

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:

Simple English

Thom Yorke (born October 7, 1968) is an English musician, most known for being the lead singer, pianist, and guitarist for the English alternative rock band Radiohead.

He has gone solo releasing his first solo album "The Eraser" in 2006 and the album was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album in 2007.








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