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Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 252
Friday, Sept 21, 2012

“High & Dry”
Radiohead

1995

“♫ Two jumps
in a week/ I bet
you think that’s
pretty clever/ Don’t
you boy ♫

This month, NME had a piece called The Ten Moments in Radiohead Songs Which Give You Goosebumps, and one of my favorites that didn’t make their subjectively revealing list was 1995’s “High & Dry.” I love the way “Dry” begins with the “high” of Phil Selway’s trip hop inspired drums thumping like an exciting heartbeat. And then there’s Thom Yorke’s acoustic guitar which is the calm before the heavy riffed storm in the uplifting chorus.

One of Radiohead’s earliest compositions, “High & Dry” was written during the 1993 Pablo Honey sessions. In Exit Music – The Radiohead Story, Marc Randall writes, “Thom’s original demo for “High & Dry” was based around a groove off a 12- inch single by hip-hoppers Soul II Soul but the groove proved difficult to replicate. “That’s why we buried the song,” Thom says, “’cause we couldn’t do a convincing Soul II Soul rhythm. We didn’t really want to. And so we did a dodgy Rod Stewart version of it and then ditched it.” Jonny adds with a broad grin, “So we’re proud of it.

While recording, two years later, “High and Dry” was unearthed found worthy inclusion while recording The Bends as Thom said in Randall’s Exit Music, “One of the main reasons we wanted to include [“High and Dry” on The Bends] was because it precursored what was going to happen later and the lyrics sort of touched a nerve. It was really loose. The rest of the album’s quite polished, and we wanted something that was fairly random.”

One of Radiohead’s most popular songs from The Bends was recorded in the most unorthodox matter, all band members parts were laid down separately, as guitarist Ed O’Brien explained, “The whole funny thing about “High and Dry” us that it’s one of the very few tracks where we haven’t actually been in the studio [at the same time.] We weren’t really into doing the song.”

Ironically enough, the song that Thom Yorke has dedicated to “older people who don’t like loud music,” Radiohead, as a unit, sounds the most fluidly cohesive on this hit song on The Bends. I don’t know what Thom Yorke is singing about, the lyrics bring to mind a sort of Evil Knievel who’s daredevil like stunts leave his loved ones hanging with fear of his mortality.

Whatever Thom Yorke’s intention, and no matter how it was created, “High & Dry” is one of the few Radiohead songs that sends ripples of goose bumped excitement when I hear Phil’s opening beats. “Dry” never fails to raise my spirits. From The Bends, it’s the hit that keeps on giving. My advice, turn up the feeling and get lifted with “High and Dry.”

“High and Dry” is one the few Radiohead songs to have two quality different versions one for America and the other for the UK markets. Which video do you prefer?

The Pulp Fiction inspired clip filmed in a diner?

Or this black and white clip made for the UK?

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