I read an essay for the LA Women of Letters show at The Mint. The notes were to write a letter to something you wish you had written. I chose my favorite album of all time: OK Computer. Moby and Tim Minchin were also in the show. It was fun stuff.
Here’s the video of me reading:
Here’s the essay:
Dear Thom Yorke, Johnny Greenwood, and those other three guys in Radiohead, I wish I had written OK Computer. It’s only one of, if not the most, important alternative rock album of all time.
When the Radiohead gang took their album to Capitol records, the head of music or whatever its called, was like, “ehhh.” Then after it was released and did really well, they were like, “ahhaaaa.” And then Thom Yorke was probably like, “I told you, nobody ever fucking listens to me.” And then the rest of the band was like, “We actually listen to you all the time, you write all the songs and you’re the singer, duh.”
I had first heard of Radiohead from MTV. More specifically, Beavis and Butthead. They were watching the video for Creep, which just starts out as Thom Yorke singing, looking all sad, and Butthead looks over at Beavis and gives him the Butthead face, which is just like this look of disgust, and he says, which for some reason I remember as being one of the funniest things I had ever heard (I was like 13 at the time) but he says, “It better start rocking or I’ll really give him something to cry about.” Then it starts rocking, and beavis and butthead get super into it, and then it goes back to the slow miserable part, and Beavis says, “ummm, wait, what?” Butthead goes, “hmm.”
And then Butthead says something very profound, he said, “Beavis, if they didn’t have like a part of the song that sucked, then its like, then the other part wouldn’t be as cool.”
Okay fine this doesn’t have a point. But that was my introduction to Radiohead, so, then I did like any honest, responsible, teenager did in the late 90s and downloaded the album off of Napster.
It was music that I had never heard, I was listening to tons of Snoop and Dre, and Master P. So this was different, and intriguing, it had meaning, it had soul, and emotion, other shit…
There was this trance remix of Street Spirit that I was obsessed with. I grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and when I was about 15, my best friend Lizzy and I started going to raves in Chicago and Detroit every weekend. Because that’s a really safe thing for two skinny teenage girls to do. No clue how I’m still alive.
But there was this one party in Chicago where I went with Lizzy and some other people, and Paul Oakenfold was DJ, yeah, I know. We got there super late because we didn’t have iPhones, and the only way to get directions were to call this phone number a few hours prior to the party that would tell you directions, like “drive 100 miles west on i-94 and get off at the 30th exit, turn right, turn left, you’ll see a warehouse with one yellow balloon outside, and if you can hear some sick beats, that’s means you’re in the right spot.
I don’t know what happened that night or why we were so late, but we got there, and right as we paid our $30 to get in, I heard the Street Spirit remix, so I was all like YEAH THAT’S JAM. Coincidentally, the first night I ever tried ecstasy, so I was in a prettyyy good mood.
I flew to Denmark with my boyfriend in 2008 to attend a music festival in Copenhagen called Roskilde. It’s like Coachella but with people peeing right in front of you, its fantastic. I’m really controlling when it comes to traveling or making plans to do things, because I don’t trust anyone else, because I’m weird. So I scheduled everything for this trip. Our hotel, what time we would get the train to the festival and all that stuff. So the morning we flew into Copenhagen on a 12 hour flight, we got our hotel, got on the train, got to festival, walked up to the main stage and just randomly ran into my 5 friends that were also going there separate from my boyfriend and I. The chances of bumping into your friends at a giant music festival are pretty much non-existant, so I was excited. As we walked up, Radiohead just started their first song. And I remember thinking to myself, “Melissa, that was the most epic timing that ever occurred in my entire life.”
So yeah, the show was incredible, I think I ate some mushrooms or something, I don’t remember, and then for the encore, Radiohead played Street Spirit, which they rarely play live. So, in the words of every girl on facebook, I was blessed.
I actually touched Thom Yorke’s hair once. Umm, he was DJing this party at the Jane hotel in NYC, which, by the way, he is a horrible DJ. He plays all this weird ambient noise, but, not in a good way like Aphex-Twin noise, but like, “you invented Radiohead, why are you playing this?” noise. So when he was finished DJing, I was pretty drunk, and I was with some friends, and I said to one of them,
“I kinda want to touch his hair, i feel like I would get some super powers.” And my friend said, “or at least a lazy eye.” And I said, “im in.” So he walked by, and I stuck my hand out making it look like a mistake or something, and I hit him in the head and he looked at me, and I said, “oh im so sorry Thom.” And he goes, “don’t worry about it love.” Is that british? That’s like 1940s Hollywood. Clark Gable. Scram you fussbugget!
There’s just something so incredible about OK Computer. It’s so haunting. Every instrument in each song is introduced so carefully and perfectly. Is ambitious, but beautiful. I am so lucky to have this album released while I was so young and impressionable. I haven’t felt such an intense emotional connection to an album since I heard this one. The only other album that gives me almost the same feeling is Nirvana’s Unplugged. I was so emo, such an alterna-teen, I had a lip piercing.
I related to the paranoid, sinister sound of OK Computer. There’s thing song called Climbing up the Walls, that made you want to actually do that, but in like a good way. This album obliterated any trace of innocence I had left at 14 years old. After the first play it was embedded in my brain, and I have never gotten tired of hearing it. It goes from dark, evil textures of Paranoid Android to songs like No Surprises that is the sound of a lovely space in the clouds where your brain feels like it’s on a handful of Valium.