Wednesday, February 1, 2012

No. 855 – Airbag

Performer: Radiohead
Songwriters: Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Ed O’Brien, Colin Greenwood, Phil Selway
Original Release: OK Computer
Year: 1997
Definitive Version: None

(If I were as sharp as I'd like to think that I am, I would have made Farewell to Kings No. 855, so I would have written about a Rush song on 2/1/12. I like this song better, but ... a missed opportunity.)

Like most things, I was late to the Radiohead party, although this time it wasn’t really because I was clueless. You would have had to be living in a cave to have missed OK Computer. But I thought Creep was OK, but with all the music I was buying at the time, I didn’t have time for anything more unless it grabbed me right away.

Finally, after enough time, I figured that I was making enough money that I could throw away $12 on a CD that I might listen to only once, so I dove in. Needless to say, I listened to it more than once—that day.

I finally succumbed to Radioheadedness just before one of the last weddings among my high-school crew in the summer of 1998. I’d known Tom since 7th grade, and this was the first time I was actually in town—the rest of the crew got married from 1987-1994—which meant this was the first time I was able to go to one of their bachelor parties.

Tom, either on his own or to not offend the galpal (I believe the former), decided he didn’t want a basic stripper/drinking party. Instead, he wanted to do a whitewater-rafting trip down the New River in West Virginia. We’d rent a cabin and spend the weekend. On Saturday, we’d go down the river.

I had done the New River twice in high school. My Dad and I went in the late spring of 1981. The water was high, and it was scary as Hell—at first. But after you get used to a few Class V rapids, it becomes more an adrenaline rush. We had a great guide, who told funny stories about the river, and we ended up having a great time. The second time, in the late spring of 1982, we took Mike.

Some drove separately down to Lansing to where the cabin was, but I went with Tom and the rest of the groomsmen’s group. (I wasn’t part of the wedding party, which continued an unbroken string of having never been in any of my friends’ weddings.) The cabin we had had three or four bedrooms—I can’t remember now how many—so we would have to bunk up. Mike and I stayed together, and the first night was pretty much how you would expect from a bachelor outing: poker, cigars, beer, pretzel rods, porn on the VCR and music on the stereo.

I don’t believe that I played this CD that weekend, because I wasn’t sure whether anyone else in the crew was ready for it. It was a few degrees out of their comfort zone, which consisted of Dave Matthews. In fact, now that I think about it, I for the most part yielded the CD player. It was Tom’s party after all.

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