November 13th, 2008

Picton, fjord

32 songs - Radiohead - Creep

Summer 1997 I worked on Menorca for First Choice as resort representative, better known as Holiday Rep. Even the BBC made a series about us that summer. My area was the part of the island where anything grey automatically arrived, not much under 60’s around. But I had a great season, plenty of fun, especially with the international crowd working there in car rental companies, in bars, animation or selling excursions, we had a nice group.

A big disadvantage of the resort 's Algar was the non-existence of a decent pub, a nice watering house. The only place to go to after 10 PM was the Karaoke bar. Not really my choice normally but it did end up as the place to gather after a hard day’s work, where those who worked there ended, when the tourists who we worked for had gone to bed (remember the average age?). Being the only punters there was not an exeption. We did grab the microphone then and sang sungs we hardly knew, just for the sake of it. One example I didn’t know up until then, nor have I heard it ever since, was Al Partir by Nino Bravo, a Eurovision entry for Spain somewhere in the seventies, according to some of the Spanish workers amongst us. At the end of the summer, we had heard the song so often, we (three Dutch amongst a crowd of Brits and Spanish) sang the song without the aid of the monitor with the lyrics.

One evening there were quite a few visitors when we entered late after work. Not only the amount surprised us, also their choice of songs. Not the ever so predictable 'My way', 'Hey Jude', 'You'll never walk alone' or another hopelessly attempt at 'Cotton Eye Joe'. Halfway through the evening someone came up and sang a song I did recognize, but hadn’t heard for a while. “I wish I was special”, we heard, the singer appeared to be at ease and confident on stage. A spectacular version of 'Creep' was sung for a small crowd that evening. Many visitors seemed not to have heard the song before, even though it was already four year old at the time.

To me Radiohead was only known through that particular song. Later I started following them better, read about them, heard more albums and ended up being impressed by Paranoid Android, No Surprises, Karma Police en High and Dry. Their album OK Computer was released later that same year and soon turned out to be one of my favourite albums of all times.

But regardless of the class of that album, still that one song hits me most. Their first hitsingle. The song where Thom Yorke seems to suffer from the beginning to the end, singing as if his life depends on it. Obviously YouTube has an array of 'Creep's'. Someone playing the song on an ukelele, a cover by Natural Disasters, someone else in the tube with a street musician or 456 amateurs doing an acoustic version of the song.

The song keeps its power, regardless of how often I hear the song. I like a song with a build up, changes of pace and volume. U2 often made songs like that, Queen's best songs are in the same league, Radiohead turns it into a trademark. Very quiet start. The chorus sees a guitar entering the song. The until then near-ballad, suddenly turns into a rock anthem. The change is returning throughout the song, soft, loud, almost whispering then almost howling with a very long: 'rùùùùùùn'.

Apart from the music, the lyrics also touch me. Sympathy for the underdog, the outsider, is not a weird sentiment for me. Is there anyone more an outsider that the main character in 'Creep'? While most songs (rap!) are about self conscious people with plenty of self esteem, the singer (Yorke autobiografical?) is a creep, a weirdo. “I don't belong here..”, at the end of the song almost sounds like surrender.

I have been a Radiohead fan since 1997. 'Creep' was the culprit and remains one of my favourite songs ever since.



 

 



When you were here before,
Couldn't look you in the eye
You're just like an angel,
Your skin makes me cry

You float like a feather
In a beautiful world
I wish I was special
You're so fucking special

But I'm a creep,
I'm a weirdo
What the hell am I doin' here?
I don't belong here

I don't care if it hurts,
I wanna have control
I want a perfect body
I want a perfect soul

I want you to notice
when I'm not around
You're so fucking special
I wish I was special

But I'm a creep
I'm a weirdo
What the hell am I doin' here?
I don't belong here, ohhhh, ohhhh

She's running out the door
She's running out
She run run run run...
run...

Whatever makes you happy
Whatever you want
You're so fucking special
I wish I was special

But I'm a creep,
I'm a weirdo
What the hell am I doin' here?
I don't belong here

I don't belong here...


32 songs. Thanks to Nick Hornby. A series about songs that somehow have influenced my life.