Friday Early Afternoon Jukebox: Ignored For No Good Reason
When I was a teenager, I remember thoroughly enjoying Radiohead’s “Creep”, a song I remember thinking would be a good effort from a soon forgotten one-hit wonder. I was precocious like that. Then, a few years later, I remember somebody very insistently insisting that I listen to Radiohead’s The Bends, which I did. I came away from the experience impressed, but nonplussed. Then, a few years later, I remember getting entirely absorbed in the pleasure surrounding Ok Computer, a brilliant album that features maybe my favorite ever Radiohead track: “Electioneering”.
Then came college and the release of Kid A and then Amnesiac. Given everything I wrote in the first paragraph (right up there!), you’d think I would have exulted at these two albums, but rather than revel in either of them, I rejected both. Flatly. Out-of-hand. Immediately.
I’m trying to think of a way to describe the obsessive, cultish reaction to both albums: Jim Jones comes to mind, but I’m not entirely certain that his followers were so devoted. And with every single person who came to me insisting that I listen to both of, my calcification against both hardened. I maintained this position in the face of friends who knew me, friends who understood what I’d like, friends who wanted me to enjoy something that they themselves found pleasurable. It simply didn’t matter the arguments trotted out before me. I was so turned off by their insistence that Radiohead had achieved something truly memorable that I held strong against the onslaught, a position I managed to maintain right up until this:
Although I had plenty of defense against the insistence of slavish worshippers, I had absolutely nothing prepared to protect against music that I genuinely enjoyed. And while there is plenty here for Radiohead critics to object to (Thom Yorke’s seizure-dance comes immediately to mind), none of it bothered me. It only made me want more.
Which is how I went from objecting to both albums to giving them a chance. And enjoying them thoroughly. And feeling like a complete idiot for being such a hard-headed buffoon in the first place. And sheepishly acknowledging to everybody around me that they’d been right. As if the act of giving music a chance required some great effort on my part. The truly stupid thing is that, even then, I valued deeply the experience of discovering great music. It’s one of life’s truly great pleasures and yet I refused it to myself, simply because of the band’s slightly-more-than-enthusiastic supporters.