Main Index Pablo Honey The Bends OK Computer Kid A Amnesiac Hail to the Thief In Rainbows The King of Limbs A Moon Shaped Pool Thom Yorke Jonny Greenwood Ed O'Brien Colin Greenwood Philip Selway
The song had its live premiere on February 21st 1994:

The band had just been to see Jeff Buckley play a set, and when they got back into the studio, Thom recorded the vocals in two takes and broke down in tears.
A rough mix of 'Fake Plastic Trees' was included on this august 1994 work-in-progress tape compilation. The handwriting is Thom's. Side A of the cassette appears to contain both finished versions as well as a few rough mixes and also lists some working titles:

Phil: Some of my favourite lyrics on the album - 'Gravity always wins' - what a line.

Ed: This took a while to record only because it was hard to better Thom just singing it with an acoustic guitar. Amazing lyrics.

Jonny: My favourite lyrics on the album. Writing the string parts was my studio highlight, in a megalomaniac kinda way.

Colin: Er..., Deep?

Thom: The product of a joke that wasn't really a joke and a very lonely drunken evening and well, a breakdown of sorts.
Thom : "Last night I was called by the American record company insisting, well almost insisting, that we used a Bob Clearmountain mix of 'Fake Plastic Trees'. I said: 'No way.' All the ghost-like keyboard sounds and weird strings were completely gutted out of his mix, like he'd gone in with a razor blade and chopped it all up. It was horrible."
"The single? Oh, it's a big moving broken-hearted ballad, innit?" Thom grins, wickedly. "I almost killed myself writing it." He grins again.
Thom: "It was very much a breakthrough on the album. The day we recorded that song was a complete nightmare. I had a complete meltdown, so everyone left the studio.

It was just me and my acoustic guitar, but there was something chilling hanging around in the air. We'd been there for a month, and that was the first time I felt any connection with what Radiohead's about.

The funny thing is it took bloody months to get everything else on top of it to sound natural. All the bizarre keyboard noises were done at Abbey Road using an old Hammond organ Paul McCartney used on 'Magical Mystery Tour.' We had it plugged into all the guitar amplifiers, every single effect, all the knobs and switches going. It was deafeningly loud, filling up the whole studio.

That song could have easily sounded like Guns N' Roses. We wanted it to sound like Phil Spector."
Jonny: "Usually we write a song all together, compose it as a whole. That was done by Thom just playing by himself, gradually adding one thing at a time. It's all very considered, in a good way."
Most Radiohead songs are performed more or less live in the studio, with some overdubbing. However, for The Bends, producer John Leckie had them experimenting with various methods of building up tracks. On 'Fake PLastic Trees', Phil chased Thom's vocal and guitar part. "We had to work to that," he says. "I wasn't working to a click but to his performance; part of the beauty was the way it would actually slip in ann \d out, but trying to follow it was a nightmare."
'There's this assumption, especially over here, that Radiohead are big in America,' O'Brien offers. 'Radiohead are not big in America. We had Fake Plastic Trees as a single and it was played on a radio station. They did a survey of their listeners - 18 to 25-year-old males - who drive four-wheel-drive jeeps - and it came bottom of the list. The thing with Radiohead and America is that we had one pop hit there.'
Q: "Which was the first of your own lyrics that pleased you?"

Thom: "(Lengthy pause. 32 seconds, in fact.) "'Fake Plastic Trees'."
Probably the best-known song on The Bends is the slow-building 'Fake Plastic Trees', which it would be tempting to call a 'power ballad' if the band weren't so diametrically opposed to the kind of histrionic show of (usually false) emotion that normally characterizes such songs. Yorke remembers the recording of 'Fake Plastic Trees' as "a fucking nightmare". O'Brien says, "There was one stage at the first session when it sounded like Guns N' Roses' 'November Rain.' It was so pompous and bombastic, just the worst." Yorke explains that the song was saved through a mixing error: "Paul [Kolderie] missed a cue, so the electric guitars don't come in at the right place. It was a mistake, but we kept it."
According to Thom, this song is about Canary Wharf in London. The acoustic version was used in the film Clueless. This song has remained in setlists ever since it was released and has been played on most dates of every tour.
During the The King of Limbs period the song was not part of the regular touring and had its sole (and so far last) live performance at the Haiti benefit gig:
337. january 24th 2010 The Music Box Theatre at The Fonda Los Angeles, CA USA Link