the genius that is radiohead

I’d forgotten about this band until I saw the scope (formerly the spastic society) ad on tv. Anyone seen this ad? There’s a guy in a wheelchair at a train station, with a bunch of people standing around waiting for the train. A few people look over at him as he starts to sing out loud to the music in his headphones. Over the course of the ad, the music gradually becomes louder, and is revealed to be radiohead’s paranoid android (a detail which is totally irrelevent to the message of the ad, but nonetheless the detail that riveted me most).

The screen text then says, “Don’t worry, he’s just another music fan. See the person, not the disability.” A good ad, with a worthwhile message, well executed. The funny thing was, the message was kind of lost on me since I spent the whole ad trying to work out what he was singing, then listening to. Especially since paranoid android recalls a very specific time in my life, I was lost in that kind of wailing Thom Yorke does and the way the song switches up and down and drags you along like a dog tied to the towbar of a 4 wheel drive.

So it seems that personally, I hear the music, before I see the person, let alone the disability. I wonder what that says about me?

Anyway, the point wasn’t about the ad, it was about radiohead, who have this unique (well, rare at least) ability to bridge that gap the Yes never bridged (which is a real shame) between fantastical, weird experimental rock and mainstream music (popular culture). There is something truly emotive about their songs, something that needs to be heard (or rather experienced) to be understood in any sense. I hadn’t even pulled out anything of theirs (except the odd random Creep from the Triple J Hottest 100) for such a long time, and it was a refreshing reminder of that time in my life when I was young enough to be experimenting with new music and let it sink and seep in enough to be a significant influence on my character. I’m not old by any stretch, but I do find myself increasingly shutting out new music, something I swore black and blue I would never do. Radiohead’s a reminder of that time, and a beautiful tug on the heartstrings of memory it is.


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