This Is A Very Surprising Oral History Of Radiohead’s OK Computer

Back in March, we hosted our first-ever Radiohead Week in celebration of the 20th anniversary of The Bends. It went over really well, mostly because the folks who read and comment on the site fucking love Radiohead. Thank you for participating; it was fun to be a part of and gave me (someone who admittedly dgaf about Radiohead) insight into why the band matters so much to so many. While Radiohead Week was for the most part all about worship, sometimes it’s good to kill your idols. Or at least be comfortable making fun of them. Today, ClickHole published a comprehensive oral history of Radiohead’s seminal 1997 album OK Computer. By comprehensive, I mean that absolutely nothing about this is real. According to this oral history, OK Computer was an attempt to dismantle the popularity of the band’s earlier single, “Creep.” The narrative starts as follows:

Thom Yorke (vocals): Right before we started working on OK, I was doing a solo tour where I would walk out onstage and say, “‘Creep’ is a bad song,” and that would be the whole show. I did that in hundreds of sold-out shows all around the world, because I wanted people to understand that “Creep” is a bad and not a good song.

Jonny Greenwood (guitar): Even after The Bends, we were still living in the shadow of “Creep,” and that was difficult. Especially for Thom. People would come up to him after shows and say, “Hi, Thom, we are all aware that ‘Creep’ is a good song,” and he would have to tell them that it’s actually bad. This happened all the time.

Philip Selway (drums): For many years, Thom tried to pay the pope a million dollars to replace the word “Amen” with the phrase “‘Creep’ is a bad song,” but the pope wouldn’t do it because he liked the song so much. Everyone loved that song.

Colin Greenwood (bass): It all came to a head when Bill Clinton said in his State of the Union address that “Creep” was a better song than the national anthem and both Republicans and Democrats gave him a half-hour standing ovation. We all sort of realized that we needed to create something big, or this song would come to define us. And then Thom got an idea.

Ed O’Brien (guitar): When Thom came to me and said he had an idea for a new album, I knew it was going to be big, because I was at a funeral and he interrupted the whole service by riding in on a motorcycle screaming “It’s going to be big!”

Thom Yorke: I was going door-to-door telling people that “Creep” is a bad song when I found myself in a computer store. So I’m sort of sizing up the place, and all of a sudden I get this thought: What if a computer could go drive a car? Then I laughed, ’cause I got the picture of a computer drinking a pint and hanging out with his computer mates. Then all of a sudden I stopped laughing, because I got the idea of what if a computer could play guitar. I was transfixed by this idea. And that’s when I knew: We needed to do an album about that.

This isn’t the first time that ClickHole has unapologetically mocked Thom Yorke’s self-seriousness, or Radiohead, for that matter. You can take their quiz, “How Well Do You Know The Lyrics To Radiohead’s ‘Creep’?” after reading the entire oral history of OK Computer here.

Tags: Radiohead