Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 186
Sat. July 14, 2012
If you were to tell me of the all these bands from 1992: Radiohead, R.E.M., Nirvana, Rage Against The Machine—Radiohead would not only still be making music together but they would be the undisputed innovators of post modern sound, I would have said you were crazy; crazy because of that “Creep” song that I used to despise. But I wasn’t alone because, for some time, Radiohead detested their most infamous song more than I did, as guitarist Ed O’ Brien once explained—“there was a point where we seemed to be living out the same four-and-a-half minutes of our lives over and over again. It was incredibly stultifying.”
Thom Yorke mockingly called “Creep” his “Scott Walker song.” [You may remember the short string laden sweet Scott Walker song, “On Your Own Again,” during a travel montage, in the middle of Grant Gee’s Radiohead documentary Meeting People is Easy.]
Actually, “Creep” melody was actually lifted from 1974 hit “The Air That I Breathe” from The Hollies.
“What happened was, we wrote ‘Creep” and the middle eighth just had… my guitar playing a tune.” Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood recalled—“and Ed stopped [us] and said. ‘This is the same chord sequence as that Hollies song,’ and then sang it. So Thom copied it. It was funny to us in a way, sort of feeding something like that into [it]. It’s a bit of a change.” That now infamous chord progression change, made Radiohead international superstars. Editors Note: [The Hollies principal songwriters Albert Hammond and Mike Hazelwood of “The Air That I Breathe” were rightly credited as co-writers of “Creep.”]
““Creep” is more the way people look at you. The guy in this song doesn’t necessarily believe that he’s a creep, but he’s being told he is. But things change.” Thom Yorke said, trying to enlighten the meaning of Radiohead’s most successful single. “Creep” replaced Beck’s “Loser” and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” as anthem for the young lost generation of the 1990’s as Thom Yorke explained, when he said. “These songs are very personal, but ‘Creep’ had been taken into so many contexts that it’s everybody else’s song now, and I have to let that lie, sadly.”
The one factor in the success of Yorke’s very personal song “Creep” was, Johnny’s unloading the rifle like guitar sound of “Creep” and Thom explained—“That nervous twitch he does, that’s just his way of checking that the guitar is working, that it’s loud enough and he ended up doing it while we were recording. And whilst we were listening to it, it was like, “Hey, what the fuck was that? Keep that! Do that!”
Happy accidents are integral to successful hit songs and Johnny’s wicked guitar sound is different. Looking back, my moody ears have softened to genius of “Creep.” I’m not the only one. Recently, Ed and the band have finally come around, full circle, sounding almost thankful when talking about “Creep” that made Radiohead mega-superstars, as he explained—“We’ve been very lucky, when we go back to “Creep,” even though we got sort if pissed off with it, it gave us [freedom] it meant on our first record [Pablo Honey] we recouped, which means we don’t owe the record company any money. It meant that they we’re breathing down our next so we could make The Bends without very little interference. Which then led on to OK Computer, which led on to Kid A—you know, we’ve been very lucky.” That kind of honesty and appreciation from Ed O’Brien is what makes us all Radiohead fans. Yes, I am happy to admit to have gotten over my animosity towards “Creep.” Funny enough, “Creep” made me appreciate the 1974 dazzling flavor of The Hollies’ “The Air That I Breathe.”
Radiohead had outlived the hostility towards the song that made them famous. More than an anthem from the nineties, “Creep” is one for the ages, a song that never get’s old, one that conveys a global understand, thanks to Radiohead’s “Creep” being weirdo was never before such a wonderful thing. Re-embrace your eccentricities, today, as you croon this now vintage chorus, realize the reflective words you are expressing. By staying true to our weird selves, Yorke’s message will endure. Now all non-conformists have their soundtrack rally cry; remember, being the outcast anti-hero is the only way to live.