The Bends era of Radiohead is my favorite. Always has been, always will. Though countless magazines, music fans, and best of lists seem to disagree, it is 1995’s Radiohead that hooked me.
I am a Bends girl, even though it is the indie-cool thing to love all the later Radiohead albums. But, I’ve never been all that indie-cool, and honestly, I’m more than okay with that.
The songs on The Bends are full of memories and meaning to me, and my life. They emotionally slay me, and they mean something to me that even my favorite tracks from the band’s other albums never do. Not to say I don’t have other later favorites. On the contrary, I have quite a few. But it’s the songs on The Bends that I always return to, that I sometimes cry to, and that I feel a lot to – every time I listen.
“(Nice Dreams)” came on unexpectedly this afternoon, right as I sat down to write. It’s been a while since I’ve been here writing. Life got in the way, as its wont to do, but I’ve promised myself as of late to ease off myself a little. To allow myself room to breathe, to take time when I need it, and not hold myself to ridiculous, perfectionistic standards. Not an easy thing for me to do, or not do, but I’m trying.
Anyways, I digress. “(Nice Dreams)”, the parenthetical sixth track on The Bends. Are there any other songs you can think of that are completely in parenthesis? No other one comes to mind – though I bet there are a few.
Let’s press play and have a listen to it.
“(Nice Dream)” by Radiohead
from the album, The Bends (1995)
Song of the Day
“I call up my friend the good angel,
but she’s out with her answer-phone.
She says she’d love to come help but the sea would
electrocute us all.”
“(Nice Dream)” was one of four tracks that the band was considering to release as a single, back in 1994, before The Bends was even released. This strategy of single selection proved counter-productive. Everyone was pulling for one of the four, without much commonality or agreement. It slowed them down in regards to finishing anything – the songs, and the album.
This reminds me of the perfectionistic streak I spoke about earlier. I know it keeps me from finishing so many things. Instead, I over-think, over-edit, and jump from project to project, never landing on one to finish, thus never finishing anything.
According to Q magazine (April 2008 issue), “(Nice Dream)” was recorded with all five members of the band strumming acoustic guitars on the terrace outside Manor studios one sunny summer’s day. The intention of producer John Leckie was to recreate the ambiance of George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” (my favorite George Harrison track of all-time, by the way).
The early to mid-nineties, oh my stars, those were my salad days, as they say, or my real growing up years. From 1991, until the end of the decade, I went through such enormous, life-changing happenings. The music from those years, well, they all pack a pretty severe wallop of memories, and because of that, many of my favorite — “quintessential” — albums trace back to those years.
I had a copy of Pablo Honey, though I think it was my ex-husband’s copy that he’d left behind after our split. We wound up with some of each other’s music and books. It happens. Lines blur on whose are whose when you have that first major break-up. I remember that he was loving that album around the time I was heavily crushing on Bjork’s Debut, Juliana’s Hey Babe and Counting Crows’ August and Everything After. Sure, I knew “Creep” (didn’t/doesn’t everyone?), but at the time I thought it was whiny and maybe even a little cringe-inducing.
Then came The Bends and I fell hard and fast. I think it was “Fake Plastic Trees” that grabbed me first. I felt pain when I listened to it, an ache so visceral that I’d almost always end up in tears. Even now when I play it, and really listen, I wind up crying.
Next, it was “Black Star” that I fell for, then “High and Dry”, along with today’s Song of the Day, “(Nice Dream)”. The rest of the album just became part of me after that, the way all my favorites do. I’ve had this album playing while I kissed someone for the first time, while I packed my bags to leave someone for the last time, and while I drove across the country on my way to some new beginning.
The BPD in me is always longing for some new beginning. I’m learning that now.
“(Nice Dream)” (live, acoustic) by Radiohead
“(Nice Dream)” has played whilst I rolled around in a hotel room bed with a new lover, while I cried over a loss so deep I didn’t think I’d recover, while I cooked meals, wrote poetry and stories and blog posts, and while I nursed a broken heart back to life.
All the songs on The Bends have accompanied such things, at one time, or another. Isn’t that what makes a song, and album, special – and quintessential?
I know it’s what does it for me.
Do you have a favorite Radiohead album? If so, what is it? And, what is your favorite track off of The Bends? I’d love to know.