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The Modern Age
by Bradley Bambarger

"As far as I can remember, the words were originally about some loony girl I was going out with, but after a while, they got mixed up with ideas about success and failure," explains Radiohead front man Thom Yorke about the lyrical inspiration behind the Capitol act's song "High And Dry."

At No. 20 on Modern Rock Tracks after nine weeks on the chart, "High And Dry" is the second single from Radiohead's powerful sophomore album, "The Bends." Less intense than the affecting first single, "Fake Plastic Trees," "High And Dry" features the band's trademark anthemic introspection at its most mellifluous--although the song's serenely insistent melody belies the anxiety of its genesis.

In fact, "High And Dry"--with lyrics like "You're watching all the ground beneath you drop/You're turning into something you are not"--came to signify the band's mind-set while in the throes of the pressurized sessions for "The Bends." According to Yorke, after the sensation of "Creep"--the sleeper hit from the group's debut album, "Pablo Honey"-- Radiohead was behind the eight ball.

"It was a complete crisis situation," Yorke says. "No matter what we came up with, we were thinking, 'My God, people are going to hate us.'

"'High And Dry' was an old demo we thought was rubbish, you know, too Rod Stewart or something," Yorke adds. "But when we came back to the track one day, it seemed like a mirror showing us all the things we had been through. After 'Creep' and the fatigue from all the touring, we were scared shitless, really, and people were interfering. We had to claim our creative freedom . . . That'll never happen again. Now we have so much freedom, we barely know what to do with it."

After experiencing the distress of rising too fast, Yorke says he and the band have their priorities straight. "The music is one thing, and the business is another, but most important is how you relate to each other in the band."