Main Index On a Friday 1985-1988 On a Friday 1989-1991 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
'High & Dry' was originally written when Thom was still studying at Exeter in the late 1980s. The song was performed as a very fast punk rock version at gigs by Headless Chicken, Thom's band at Exeter:
Around the time that the band was recording Pablo Honey, Thom recorded a version on a 4-track machine using a rhythm sample by Soul II Soul as the basis.
In march 1993 Radiohead decided to do a version of it. They had just had a new skin put on their bass drum, so Phil was messing about with it, and that is how the drum beat came up. Thom played the opening bit acoustic, for a laugh, and everyone thought it sounded like Rod Stewart. Bits got recorded and added, but it got discarded pretty quickly.
About the time that they were recording The Bends, someone found the 1993 studio demo again, and the band was surprised how well it fitted with the newly recorded material. They then put it on the album, not bothering to re-record it. The album version therefore is the original demo version, just remixed. This song is one of the only occasions on which it was not all recorded together - as the band came in separately, and recorded their own sections before it was all put together.
Phil: One from the vaults - proof that demos are generally the best versions of songs.

Ed: I really don't remember the day that this was recorded with our sound engineer, Jim. All I do know is that we hadn't arranged the song before we went into the studio, but it ended up sounding great!

Jonny: This used to sound like Soul to Soul. A first take demo from ages ago.

Colin: Over 2 years old now...ah! so young, pure and innocent then - now I'm just old, pure and innocent! Damn!

Thom: An accident just like Evil Kenevil.
Then there's the delicately morose 'High and Dry,'a song that screamed single in a way 'Fake Plastic Trees' didn't...

"In a nice way, yeah," Jonny agrees. "When I heard it for the first time, because there's a whole history behind it, it was recorded as a demo a year and a half ago and we forgot about it, and then we had vague memories of it. Our manager remembered it, and we thought no, it's not very good, but he got the tapes of it and when I heard it again after over a year, it reminded me of, and this is very egotistical of me, oh, all these interruptions of my own sentences, how very terrible..." he laughs. This is Jonny, shy quiet Jonny talking his handsome head off? Of course Prince Pissed-Off isn't around to dampen his enthusiasm...

"It reminded me of that song 'Mull of Kintyre' {a Paul McCartney/Wings tune], that really horrible kind of single, but in a nice way. It was one of those songs that people hopefully would be playing as soon as they learned guitar or something", he laughs.
The relationship between Radiohead and REM, too, was far more civilised than that between most headline/support bands - especially when the headliners just happen to be one of the biggest bands in the world. When Radiohead joined the tour Michael Stipe took Yorke to one side and told him he was a fan. They socialised after gigs, talked about shared favourite songs - like REM's 'Drive' and Radiohead's 'High and Dry' - and Stipe explained how he became a phenomenon and managed to retain his integrity.
"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."

[...]

"'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."
On the dreamy 'High and Dry', the sound of the bass drum is integral. Phil was asked to remove all muffling from a one-headed bass drum. He found the feel of the head took some getting used to, but went along with the effect of the song. Once the room's mic's were added the result was a very Bonham-ish - and musically appropriate. As for equipment, Phil uses Premier "Signia" drums and Zildjian cymbals.
Thom has frequently dedicated this song to the "older people, who don't like loud music". There are two videos for this song - one for the 1995 release in the UK featuring the band in a desert, and one for the 1996 release in the USA with a story revolving around a Pulp Fiction-esque diner.
This performance was filmed for 'Nulle Part Ailleurs', a program on the French TV station Canal+, on november 14th 1995: