Pablo Honey...if it showed a hint of the magic that was to come, I missed it. I liked a handful of songs on it but thought the band that made them would fade into obscurity. I, like so many others, was dead wrong.
The Bends hit me like a punch in the gut. The lyrics seemed to have been written specifically for me. And sonically, it was so damn sad that I always felt comforted in my teen darkness.
But OK Computer. That album shook my whole body. I had never heard anything like it. My mind was also blown.
The opening guitar and subsequent beat drop of "Airbag" sounded like some modern day moon mission that would help me escape the world around me. And it did. Reading about how this song was about singer, Thom Yorke's fear of cars made sense. But for me it was about my fear of everything.
Speaking of fear, at the time, "Paranoid Android" and it's perfectly stitched together sounds, made me realize how foolish all of the adults hopping on a train or in a car to go to a job they hated were. I didn't want to become that.
The next song, "Subterranean Homesick Alien" always reminds me of the time I fell asleep in the living room and had a "visit" from some strange floating being. It told me that I needed to "chill out, stop thinking so much and That I was 'uptight'". This is a true story.
"Exit Music" helped me in my battle with my parents and that line, "we hope your rules and wisdom choke you" proved that I was right. ;)
And "Let Down" is just the best song ever written. A life affirming track that has saved me from being defeated by so many things in my life that it deserves half of my paycheck. There is absolutely no way I rise to my feet again and again after being knocked to the ground without "Let Down".
If you add the single, "Karma Police" to this, you have the best first half of any LP I had ever heard.
The second half begins with "Fitter Happier" a snapshot into our dystopian present recited by a monotone robot, that rings completely accurate in 2017.
Also relevant in 2017 is the albums worst track (which is still awesome) which is about doing whatever it takes to win an election to public office.
The rest of the album is so creepy sounding that I sometimes find it hard to listen to in the dark. Not really, but “Climbing Up the Walls”, “Lucky” and “The Tourist” all play like the climax to some super spooky space opera.
This morning, I said to my wife that the songs and lyrics that resonate with me now are so much different than those that did when I was a kid. And that is what makes great art.
“No Surprises” used to be my least favorite song back in the day, the guitar riff always seemed to go perfectly along with me singing “Fish heads, fish heads, roly poly, fish heads” in my head. I don’t even know what that is from. But nowadays it is one of my favorite tracks with it’s frowning on politicians and modern consumerism it reminds me everyday of who I am and want to be. How many albums can you say that about?
Happy birthday, OK Computer. And thank you.