Tuesday, December 5, 2006

"I will see you in the next life"

#19 Kid A, Radiohead, Capitol, 2000

2000 was a red-letter year in so many ways. I graduated from college, toured California for two weeks for the first time, celebrated my 1 year wedding anniversary, and started grad school at Duke. It was certainly an incredibly busy time, so busy, in fact, that my music life kinda sorta went briefly stagnate. Gone from college and friends, stuck with utilizing dial-up internet, and living in a pre-Radiofree Durham, the only thing that kept me going musically was the status quo, i.e. my subscription to Rolling Stone. But the buzz in the press that Fall that kept me excited was that "There's going to be a new Radiohead album!" It just so happened that roughly at the same time, the US was going through one of the greatest election debacles of all time. I distinctly remember the record coming out before the election of '00, but I was unable to pick up a copy until much later due to ridiculous financial constraints, such as the fact that I wasn't working and Sarah was doing an admin job at a brokerage firm and it seemed like we were always bouncing the bank account, the worst time of which was due to a craving for Pizza Hut. Never again, for more than one reason....but I digress. As America decided to not go out and vote in what turned out to be the closest election this century, I was busy prepping myself for the new Radiohead record by listening non-stop to the last one, OK Computer, and the track "Electioneering" specifically, as that seemed appropriate for the time.

This turned out to be an ironic way to celebrate both the election and the new record's release, for not only did the election end up having a specious result that seemed to come straight out of the words of "Electioneering," but listening heavily to old Radiohead turned out to be the worst possible thing to listen to before engaging Kid A. Once I had the album near the end of November (election still undecided, mind you), it took a conscientious effort on my part to listen to the whole thing. It was honestly, with the exception of "How To Disappear Completely," like nothing I had ever really heard before and I resisted it. Call it critical peer pressure (so many reviews oozing with praise) or actual peer pressure (many students at Duke were raving), but I became determined to not get passed-by by my culture. I listened to the record walking to class. I listened to the record doing the dishes. I listened to the record while at my desk job in the music department. And finally, I remember this clear as day, I was vacuuming our bedroom one afternoon with it blasting from our stereo, and the bass groove of "The National Anthem" somehow got stuck in my subconscious. And the rest is history. I continued to listen to the record in every imaginable way, listening to it so much that Sarah finally had to lay down the law that we had to listen to something else. But I still had "Everything in Its Right Place" to get me up the hill on my morning walk to Duke, and I had "Idioteque" to rattle my ears through my late night walks home after reading an unbearable amount of theology and/or philosophy over the previous 12 hours. I'm not really going to say much about the music here, as I assume most people reading this list have this album and will probably list it over the next few weeks and fill in the musical gaps. All I will say is that the synthetic beats of "Everything in Its Right Place," the postmodern thematics of "The National Anthem," the ethereal float of "How To Disappear Completely," the unsettling metaphors of "Morning Bell," and the absolute transcendence of "Motion Picture Soundtrack" still give me chill bumps. Just like every time I think of the year 2000.


daniel.brantley said...

great story.

ATrain said...

it's funny - i had the exact opposite reaction. i got so sick of everyone saying how great radiohead was i refused to actually listen to the album - and i didn't until about 2002. but i still maintain "everything in its right place" was the greatest opening track on any mix tape you ever made me.

Sugar Mama said...

It is now strange to picture someone walking while listening to a discman. Do they still make those things?

Sugar Mama said...

Oh, and Daniel, if Buddy keeps appearing, I'm going to have to excuse myself from the site. I can just hear his beating wings as he makes a b-line for my head.