For everyone else who’s still smarting about the Roundhouse ticket travesty, let me start by declaring that I also missed out and won’t be going to see Radiohead play live in May. But over the last few months I’ve been listening to their music more and more, and am surprised by how many different people and times I associate with it. It’s interesting to reflect on the importance of music in our personal histories. Here are a few snapshots.
Aged 14, I bought The Bends on cassette and a schoolfriend made me a copy of the newly released OK Computer. But I didn’t really get into Radiohead until I passed my driving test. I still associate both those albums with driving around North Shropshire in an N-reg clio, sunroof open and music blaring.
Much of my early twenties was spent listening to the quirkier albums and it was very exciting to spot Thom Yorke in Tesco one evening (the one by Liverpool Street station, since you ask). A few years later, I was extremely chuffed when the Flegg choir were asked to sing Harry Patch with the BBC Concert Orchestra at a schools’ performances in Yarmouth Hippodrome. We performed it alongside an arrangement of Elbow’s One Day Like This, and both songs still regularly feature on my playlists. The immersion in harmony and structure that comes with learning a piece thoroughly is fantastic!
When the Big Nephew was only a few weeks old, I went to a conference in Manchester and attended a workshop with David Ashworth, exploring the potential for music technology to be used as part of live classroom performance. Having made a multi-track recording of No Surprises for my own A Level coursework, it was humbling to struggle over a simple glockenspiel part. I realised that I’m much more comfortable playing with fingers than beaters and really understood why tuned percussion might be a valuable alternative for pupils who find keyboard playing difficult. No Surprises made it onto my most recent mix-tape for the Big Nephew and I hope he’ll catch the Radiohead bug at some point too.
Somewhere along the line, a friend introduced me to Christopher O’Riley’s piano arrangements of Radiohead songs. Indeed, I realised recently that I’ve had valuable conversations with many of my ‘musician friends’ about Radiohead, conversations that have influenced my listening a great deal. Perhaps that’s why I’ve been revisiting Radiohead’s music more frequently since moving to Canada, since it reminds me of loved ones back at home. Or maybe it’s because the level of musical intricacy means that Radiohead sound especially amazing through headphones (my main listening time now is whilst walking). Or just because I love Radiohead – which is reason enough.
PS. The photo chose the title, this time.