Thom Yorke, the distinct voice leading Radiohead, is not shielded from scrutinizing his creations, no matter how beloved they might be in the eyes of the audience. One such piece of music he harbors a particularly harsh opinion about is ‘High & Dry’, which he bluntly labeled as truly terrible.
The album that introduced ‘High & Dry’ to the world, ‘The Bends’ (1995), while perhaps not the audience’s favorite, played a key role in moulding the band’s unique musical trajectory.
After achieving worldwide acclaim with their catchy single “Creep”, the members of Radiohead were eager to quash any notion of them being a fleeting phenomenon. They accomplished this feat with ‘The Bends’, showcasing their diverse abilities and launching several hit singles, thereby firmly establishing themselves in the global music arena.
Although the band’s most revered creations emerged later with groundbreaking albums such as ‘Ok Computer’, ‘Kid A’, and ‘In Rainbows’, ‘The Bends’ maintains a vital position in their legacy – for reasons both good and bad. According to Thom Yorke, this was the album that gave life to what he perceives as their least commendable piece of music – the tender ballad ‘High and Dry’.
Yorke’s critical view notwithstanding, the song continues to be popular among followers, with over 300 million streams on Spotify to date. In a candid conversation with Billboard in 1996, Yorke delved into the essence of the song, revealing it was influenced by a love affair and infused with contemplations on triumph and disappointment. He reiterated his negative sentiment about the track, denouncing it as “really bad.”
Interestingly enough, ‘High and Dry’ was first recorded during the ‘Pablo Honey’ sessions in 1993. Though it did not make it to their first album, Yorke ultimately agreed to feature a polished version of the song on ‘The Bends’.