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
This song had been written long before it saw release on the album of the same name. The band had been soundchecking gigs with this before Pablo Honey came out, but it wasn't recorded for the debut album and instead held in the can for the second record.
This slow 4-track demo, featuring a recorder solo by Jonny, was released on the Long Live Tibet compilation and was recorded in mid 1992 about the time that sessions for Pablo Honey took place:
Throughout 1993 the song was titled 'The Benz', a little wordplay, which would be discarded ultimately. This acoustic performance for Signal Radio comes from february 11th 1993:

A studio demo was recorded at Courtyard Studios in march 1993 during the same session that also produced the released version of 'High & Dry'. It became available on the Radiotick bootleg along with studio demos of 'Nice Dream', 'Pop Is Dead' and 'Banana Co.':
The song was played regularly throughout 1993 while the band was touring for Pablo Honey. This performance comes from the "Black Session" in Paris, France on february 23rd 1993, and was actually released under the title 'The Benz' on a French Creep EP:
The sounds at the beginning of the studio version on The Bends were recorded by Thom during Radiohead's first US tour in july 1993. A marching band practised on the street outside his window when he was staying in a hotel in Phoenix, Arizona towards the end of that tour.
The song was included on this august 1994 work-in-progress tape compilation. The handwriting is Thom's. At this point he doesn't seem to have decided whether to call it 'The Benz' or 'The Bends' yet, and there's even a third possible title, 'Minty', in brackets (not decipherable here, but the owner of the cassette mentioned that). Since a note like "rough" or "not finished" is not written next to the title, the cassette appears to contain the finished version:

Jonny: "Like the rest of the band, he [Thom] sort of doesn't have any friends, really, which is a bit weird. We got back to Oxford after touring...and it was really sad. We all got home, and I phoned up one or two people that we knew, who were away, and then we ended up sort of phoning each other up again."
Phil: I wanted to get away from the studio to view a house for rent. Consequently, this was the first take.

Ed: Weird to have finally recorded this song after playing it live so many times. This track really highlights Jonny's abusive guitar playing.

Jonny: Schlang! Schlang-schlang, schlang; schlang... schlang! That's 'The Bends', full of air.

Colin: A perennial hardy annual of a live favourite, faithfully committed live to tape.

Thom: Listen out for the recorders. I do. This song is so old I have no idea what it means anymore. For which I am glad.
There is a line in 'The Bends' (also a single) where Thom sings: 'I wish it was the sixties, I wish we could be happy'. This could be interpreted as a sign of Thom's despair at being left out of the cutting edge of British pop culture, of seeking refuge in the past instead of embracing the future.

Thom: "Well that's what everyone wishes isn't it?"

Q: "I don't."

Thom: ""Well no, I mean I don't but that seems to be an implicit neurosis of our generation. The thing about the sixties is that people had loads of money and freedom. There were jobs and they felt they could express themselves."

Q: "Do you despair of the nineties?"

Thom: "No, I think the nineties are great musically but politically they're fucking frightening."
The title for the new album reflects the stress caused by the band's pain-filled, rapid rise to fame.

"I guess we just came up too fast", says Yorke.
Thom: "Sometimes it's confessional. Sometimes it's not. I probably felt like a creep when I wrote that song, but I don't think I'm a creep all the time. Actually, I think a lot of what we do is quite humorous, but nobody else on the planet seems to agree. Standing on a stage singing 'I want to be part of the human race''s got to be a bit funny, hasn't it?"
"Some of the press has been absurd," Yorke says. "We get people coming up to us, quoting that line 'I wish it was the Sixties/ I wish I could be happy/ I wish/ I wish/ That something would happen' (from the song The Bends). We wrote that line as a joke. We were taking the mickey. We all found that song hilarious."
Thom: "And it's incredibly annoying that no one's noticed the giggles in that album. The song 'The Bends' is completely jokey, completely taking the piss. None of that stuff had ever happened to us when we wrote it."

Q: "What, the 'They brought in the CIA/The tanks and the Marines/To blow me away/To blow me sky high' bit? Are going do all that stuff on your American tour?

Thom: "No, all that stuff about aeroplanes and not knowing who your real friends are. That was our Bowie pastiche! Our joke song!" Thom laughs. "And really do wish I'd never written that fucking song - it's become the bane of my life. Hundreds of journalists asking - every single fucking interview : 'Do you wish it was the sixties?' No, I don't wish it was the fucking sixties. Levis jeans wish it was the sixties. I certainly fucking don't."
Thom: "We wrote this song before we finished the first album. The sound at the beginning comes from this caterwauling Mayhem outside this hotel in the States. There was this guy training these eight-year-old kids, who were parading up and down with all these different instruments. The guy had this little microphone on his sweater and was going: 'Yeah, keep it up, keep it up.' So I ran out and taped it."
  Kid A tour june 2000 july 2000 september 2000 october 2000
The Bends [14] 01 02 07 12 15 19 23 25 29 02 06 08 11 17
Bones [19] 13 15 17 18 19 21 22 25 26 27 30 01 07 01 07 11 12 28 08
(Nice Dream) [7] 13 25 27 04 07 15 20
Bullet Proof..I Wish I Was [3] 19 22 08
  Amnesiac tour may 2001 june 2001 07/'01 august 2001 september 2001 10/2001
The Bends [20] 26 28 30 01 02 04 09 18 23 27 29 07 30 03 14 16 17 09 14 04
Bones [4] 28 30 18 20
Bullet Proof..I Wish I Was [2] 28 30
  2002 Iberian tour july 2002 august 2002
The Bends [2] 22 05
  Hail to the Thief tour (1st half) may 2003 june 2003 july 2003 august 2003
The Bends [3] 08 12 21
Bones [4] 07 08 14 03
(Nice Dream) [1] 18
Bullet Proof..I Wish I Was [1] 24
  Hail to the Thief tour (2nd half) sept. 2003 october 2003 november 2003 dec. 2003 april/may 2004
The Bends [8] 11 19 22 23 27 29 01 04
(Nice Dream) [2] 15 24
Bullet Proof..I Wish I Was [1] 18
  2006 pre-In Rainbows tour may 2006 june 2006 august 2006
The Bends [12] 06 07 13 02 13 17 20 29 15 19 20 26
Bones [6] 15 19 23 27 30 12
Black Star [7] 06 07 12 19 02 11 24
  In Rainbows tour (1st half) may 2008 june 2008 july 2008
The Bends [4] 06 18 12 25
Bullet Proof..I Wish I Was [1] 05
  In Rainbows tour (2nd half) august 2008 october 2008 march 2009 august 2009
The Bends [9] 01 09 12 13 25 28 01 16 23
(Nice Dream) [3] 21 23 29
Bullet Proof..I Wish I Was [1] 08
During the The King of Limbs period the song was not part of the regular touring and had its sole live performance at the Haiti benefit gig on January 24th 2010.
  2016 A Moon Shaped Pool tour may 2016 06/2016 july 2016 august 2016 sept./oct. 2016
The Bends [1] 04
  2017 A Moon Shaped Pool tour march/april 2017 june 2017 july 2017
The Bends [3] 04 07 19