I have a sleep disorder and spent ten years in a virtual fog of sleepwalking, seeming to be awake but really not functioning except in a kind of dance that looked like a normal life. The whole time I was struggling just to stay conscious. I am mostly better now, except for the occasional mythic three am episode in which I pour dish soap into bread and try to eat it.
I mention this because it informs everything I do. To be awake is a gift I took for granted. And what I woke up to was music. Cloyingly poetic but also true. There was the world in glorious banal detail, and there was Radiohead.
They had been there before of course but my attention was elsewhere in those years. I’d been a writer, artist, worked in film, was and still am a dog trainer. But when I woke up after that decade, and I first heard Street Spirit it was like remembering something from my fifteenth year that I could almost believe happened.
Reckoner was my lullaby. Jigsaw was my afternoon ride. I have been eighteen for thirty-two years so I don’t rip through their catalogue. I obsess on one song at a time and I have a lot of songs left. Occasionally I will sing a Radiohead song for people when I really don’t like them very much and get what I have to call satisfaction from the act. They are good company for when you get the Alienation blues. And for when you feel frisky for the beat. And for when you are yearning for a hit of pure beauty. A lot of Radiohead seems like music I already knew, I already experienced before I feel asleep and now that I’m awake I think: well, here’s another part of me coming into the light.
A sleepwalker like me ends up falling from the wall frequently and breaking into a handful of pieces. I need poetry and metaphor to make sense of things as I lay there and think, “Fuck, I did it again.” So I have a tear sheet from some French magazine on my wall that is a photo of Thom asleep on a floor somewhere. It reminds me that we both dream, and that gives me a certain feeling of comfort I can’t explain. And every song I’ve ever heard Radiohead do puts me back together again,
I think that maybe, in the end, all we do of value is comfort each other a little bit when life becomes a struggle. Sometimes that comfort comes in the form of a song and ends up changing your life just a little bit with its beauty. Radiohead changed my life. Every time I hear them I’m reminded of that one thing that I advise you to do (because life I short and brutal but it’s beautiful):