Monday, March 06, 2006

Let Down (1997) - Radiohead

Sure, it’s nice to hear what the songwriters have to say, but let’s be honest: despite guitarist Johnny Greenwood and lead singer/multi-instrumentalist Thom Yorke’s insight, “Let Down” is the most beautiful tribute to alcoholism ever written.

Yorke acknowledges the void left by people constantly leaving or moving on to better lots in life. Stuck in a rut, those left behind must confront their failures; some do so by drinking, but soon the buzz offers no panacea. Their dreams and aspirations having all but been extinguished, they are left to wallow in inertia and waste away in futility, their spirits crushed. Hence, imbibing heavily presents the only means of escape. Eventually, a state of inebriation provides the only bearable reality.

Chiming guitars and keyboard skirt the rhythm section in counterrhythm, while Yorke’s double-tracked vocals engage a melody that slowly subsides into the mire of lethargy. A duet of bleeps and blips from ZX Spectrum computers momentarily kicks in, later reemerging in a redemptive coda—technology offering salvation in the form of a dot-com boom.

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