Trackpacking is a recurring series highlighting musicians that inspire me to travel.
If there is one band, one sound that melds perfectly to the events of life, that band and that sound is Radiohead.
From my earliest recollection of their music, seeing the Street Spirit and High and Dry videos on late night MTV, it has since been the one musical constant in my life that I return to with frequent–some might say overzealous–pleasure. Sophomore year in college I ran the OK Computer CD raw in the stereo; in 2000, a buddy and I went to the midnight release of Kid A and listened to the album (somewhat intoxicated) at a theater on State Street in Madison; our shared love of Radiohead, and seeing them live in 2003, is what kindled the budding romance between Sarah and me; Let Down playing the final song of our wedding reception; returning from our honeymoon in 2007 to hear (via NPR of all places) that Radiohead was releasing an album online in 10 days time and freaking out in the car.
These memories flash into consciousness like a strand of Christmas lights strewn over the last 12 years. In between each blinking bulb, I’ve listened to every album, every b-side, every last live performance and guest appearance I could get my hands on. I’ve made Radiohead tee-shirts and cataloged in a mammoth spreadsheet every one of their live shows and the songs that were played. Now that the scope of my fanboyishness is crystal clear, understand that there are armies of people just like me.
Radiohead are the Beatles of Generations X/Y.
They are musicians in exalted company that capture the essence of a time period, the social and political memes that come to dominate the media, history books, and our own backward glances. The boys from Oxford, England continually push the boundaries of modern music forward while a rush of imitators and sound-alikes materialize after the likes of The Bends, OK Computer, Kid A, and In Rainbows. The nature of the music is always intricate, almost overwrought–almost–while Thom Yorke’s haunting timbre envelopes messages of globalization, alienation, technology, politics, and social dissociation.
Without fail, their music is emotionally affecting, and it’s this aspect that makes it such an excellent travel companion. Yes, Thom can be a bit of a downer (see Videotape) at times, but I celebrate it. Traveling and music share an emotional core, and the best of both puncture our leathery shells and resuscitate our emotional selves. I’ve had Radiohead’s music with me on every major trip I’ve taken, and I look forward to bringing it on my future one-month jaunts around the world.
Pack These Tracks
I think all of Radiohead’s songs make great tracks to pack, so I’ve chosen six (bonus!) I love that represent Radiohead’s many styles.
- The Tourist, from OK Computer. “hey man, slow down, slow down / idiot, slow down, slow down”
- Reckoner, from In Rainbows. “Reckoner / you can’t take it with you”
- There There , from Hail to the Thief. “Just ’cause you feel it / doesn’t mean it’s there”
- Worrywort, from the Knives Out single. “There’s no use dwelling on / on what might have been / just think of all the fun / you could be having”
- In Limbo, from Kid A. “I’m lost at sea / don’t bother me / I’ve lost my way…I got a message I can’t read / another message I can’t read”
- True Love Waits, from I Might Be Wrong (Live Recordings). “I’m not living / I’m just killing time”
Create A Moment
- Hit the table with a dram of whisky, OK Computer on the stereo, and start planning a trip!
- Beautiful countryside. Train car. Headphones. Radiohead.
- After the after party, shuffle the Radiohead playlist, pour some wine, and have a chat.
What music moves you? I’d love to hear it!