Hanspostcards singles draft — Round 9, Pick 10, “Black Star,” by Radiohead

Black Star” is the 10th track on Radiohead’s second studio album, “The Bends,” which was released on March 8, 1995. The album produced six singles, but this wasn’t one of them. All tracks on the album were written by the band:

Thom Yorke – lead vocals, guitars, piano; string arrangements
Jonny Greenwood – guitar, organ, recorder, synthesizer, piano; string arrangements
Ed O’Brien – guitar, backing vocals
Colin Greenwood – bass
Philip Selway – drums

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f4/RadioheadMid2010s.jpg

Did you know these guys met in high school and have been together ever since?

Radiohead is one of a few musical groups out of all groups from all times that I own most of the discography for. Do you understand how impossible it is for me to choose just one song as a favorite? Fuggit, this is one of them.

What is it I love so much about, “Black Star”? The melody is achingly beautiful. I love the way it goes small and light and then wails its heartache loud and distorted. Without lyrics you would still understand what’s going on. Someone is in pain.

Thom Yorke has a voice that is more than a voice, it is a musical instrument just as much as Jonny Greenwood’s guitar is. It enters the ear canal and takes the super-express neuronal pathway to the light-up centers of my limbic system.

The lyrics speak of a rift in a mind, a rift in a relationship, and two people who are suffering. It feels like we have walked into the middle of an intimate situation where it’s uncomfortable for us to be there, witnessing it. Why is she still standing there in her dressing gown? What’s been whirling around in her head all day? There is an acute feeling of helplessness at where they are, and a feeling of hopelessness in ever being able to do anything about it. The big question: What are we gonna do? At the end, he speaks of her in the past tense. What happened? Did they break up? Or something worse? The lyrics in the song are minimal, but they carry the density of a black star.

Looking for youtubes to go with the post, I came across the following cover by The Choir that I had to share. I think that many people have a bias against Radiohead and feel that their music is too spacey or unapproachable for one reason or another. I want anyone who falls into the biased category to listen to this version, performed in a church. Blurb taken from the youtube notes:

Victoria BC’s The Choir is a non-auditioned community choir, directed by Marc Jenkins and accompanied by Danuel Tate, and sponsored by Larsen Music.

Do you feel any different after hearing The Choir sing it in a church?

I get home from work and you’re still standing in your dressing gown
Well what am I to do?
I know all the things around your head and what they do to you
What are we coming to?
What are we gonna do?

Blame it on the black star
Blame it on the falling sky
Blame it on the satellite that beams me home

The troubled words of a troubled mind I try to understand what is eating you
I try to stay awake but its 58 hours since that I last slept with you
What are we coming to?
I just don’t know anymore

Blame it on the black star
Blame it on the falling sky
Blame it on the satellite that beams me home

I get on the train and I just stand about now that I don’t think of you
I keep falling over I keep passing out when I see a face like you
What am I coming to?
I’m gonna melt down

Blame it on the black star
Blame it on the falling sky
Blame it on the satellite that beams me home
This is killing me
This is killing me

Top image link
Image of band members link

Originally posted on hanspostcard.

22 Comments Add yours

  1. dhak says:

    Lisa,
    What a moving post! I do feel differently, and yet not, hearing it sung in church, by not just one lonely voice but many. The invocation of the black star, outer space, nothingness, as if a satellite could know where “home” is, much less what, but will beam us there. And raw pain. Transfigured a million times, a countless number of voices. Vulnerability of one and the many. That it’s in a church makes it sacred. But no more so than on the bathroom floor. Because God knows, and cares, and answers in Christ.

    (Went on too long, but you DID ask?!)
    pax,
    dora

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Dora, I truly appreciate your thoughts and feelings on the music and the choir version in particular. Always please feel free to go on as long as you want in any of your comments. I like hearing what you have to say.

      Like

      1. dorahak says:

        You know not what you say, lol. But you asked for it!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. badfinger20 (Max) says:

    Great pick Lisa and I love the choir…that was a nice touch.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you, Max. I think much of Radiohead music has a paradox of being poignantly emotional while at the same time being detached and operatic. I think the choir version does a good job of having the music inhabit individuals while keeping its celestial quality.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. badfinger20 (Max) says:

        I agree with your points…and it’s good to hear from you again Lisa! I hope your break went well.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. msjadeli says:

          Thank you, Max 🙂 I sent you an email maybe a week ago? Did you get it?

          Liked by 1 person

          1. badfinger20 (Max) says:

            No…I just checked my junk mail also….the last I got from you….the last three have been on the song draft and tv show draft and that was to everyone. Dang…was it from the same address?

            Liked by 1 person

            1. msjadeli says:

              I just checked and don’t see it in my “sent” folder. Dang! I may have been at a website and saw something and sent it that way. It was a cool thing about where the top sci fi movies were made and thought you and Bailey would like it. If I find that article again will send it via an email link from me. Sorry!

              Liked by 1 person

              1. badfinger20 (Max) says:

                It was worth the wait…yea he loves Blade Runner…I mean loves it.

                Liked by 1 person

                1. msjadeli says:

                  I do too. I am a big fan of Blade Runner 2049 also.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  1. badfinger20 (Max) says:

                    Yep he loves both of them. I love Logan’s Run…something about that movie that draw me in.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    1. msjadeli says:

                      I haven’t seen that one yet. Sounds like I should.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    2. badfinger20 (Max) says:

                      Warning…it’s very seventies but of course I love it.

                      Liked by 1 person

            2. msjadeli says:

              I found it and just emailed you the link.

              Liked by 1 person

  3. selizabryangmailcom says:

    I love Radiohead. But I love it even more that those guys met in high school and are still together.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      I hear you! They are amazing. Agreed on the longevity aspect. Another reason I love PJ and U2 also (even though PJ had a few drummer changes in the beginning)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I like this song! Radiohead is another prominent band I only know by name. The church choir version sounds pretty neat as well. Now that I’m writing this, I also feel I may already have commented on your pick, perhaps on Hans’ blog. It’s been a long week! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Christian, they are really worth a listen in-depth, but I know about listening lists being longer than there is ever enough time for. Thank you for reading and your comment, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Great to see you back, Lisa! It’s been a while.😀

        Liked by 1 person

        1. msjadeli says:

          Thank you so much for your warm welcome, Christian 🙂

          Like

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