Some #longreads as you make plans for Friday the 13th, “Pi Day”, and the Ides of March…
Multiple sites are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the release of Radiohead’s classic album The Bends, ranging from Consequence of Sound’s track-by-track remembrance to Stereogum’s full-fledged “Radiohead Week”. In addition to their usual anniversary post, Stereogum also has a great interview with Radiohead drummer Philip Selway in which he provides insight into the recording of The Bends. The best feature though may be their discussion with a wide range of musicians about their all-time favorite Radiohead song. A lot of the choices and explanations are illuminating, but I have to say that I was a little disappointed that my personal favorite was not selected.
“Street Spirit (fade out)” is a hauntingly beautiful song, and in my mind is the best song in Radiohead’s extensive catalog–after that, it’s about a thirty-way tie for second place. If you break it down to its basic musical components, it has a fairly uncomplicated structure: it’s just a gorgeous descending guitar melody built atop a simple three chord progression, with Thom Yorke’s voice wrapping itself around the music in a way that is alternately sad and hopeful. This is pure speculation on my part, but I believe that a key factor that contributed to its melancholic quality is the fact that the guitars were tuned about 15 cents flat, which gave a slightly unsettling feel to the arpeggiated riff and helped open up the tone of the guitar. And “Street Spirit” had a fantastic Jonathan Glazer-directed video to boot.
The other big news this week was a jury reaching a verdict in the “Blurred Lines” copyright trial, with the jury finding in favor of the Gaye estate that there was infringement. We may discuss the potential ramifications of the decision in detail at a later date, but in the meantime you can read about the possible unintended consequences of the decision from Deadspin and SPIN. Simply put, the fact that most people in the media has turned on Robin Thicke does not mean that infringement occurred, and it could have a potential chilling effect on future music.
Finally, for some lighter fare, you have a couple of options. Earlier this week we had a piece on Viet Cong, and now you might want to read an interview the band conducted with SPIN, even if it doesn’t touch on the name issue. And you can top it off with the AV Club explaining why you should listen to the gorgeous a capella TV on the Radio song “Ambulance”, followed by actually listening to the song.