The passage below is the perfect example of what sleep deprivation does to the mind. This actually dates back to a couple of months ago, but the topic came up recently when I was having dinner with some friends of mine, so I thought I'd dust it off and put it up here (for people to scoff at).
So, I know it has only just hit bookstore shelves (I found a review copy of it at work --- on the discard pile -- and read it), but in Chuck Klosterman's new book, "Killing Yourself to Live", he goes into great detail about how he feels that the sequence of Radiohead's Kid A (originally released on October 3, 2000) is eerily prescient with regards to the events of September 11, 2001. He's not suggesting that Thom Yorke is some sort've Nostrodamus, but this seemingly crackpot theory definetely made me want to listen to the album again.
From Chuck's text....any spelling mistakes are my own.....
The first song on Kid A paints the Manhattan skyline at 8:00 A.M. on Tuesday morning; the song is titled "Everything in Its Right Place." People woke up that day "sucking on a lemon," because that's what life normally feels like on the Manhattan subway; the city is a beautiful, sour, sarcastic place. We soon move onto song two, which is the title track. It is the sound of woozy, ephemeral normalcy. It is the sound of Jonny Greenwood playing an Ondes Martenot, an instrument best remembered for its use in the Star Trek theme song. You can imagine humans walking to work, riding elevators, getting off the C train and the 3 train, and thinking about a future that will be a lot like the present, only better. The term KID A is Yorke's moniker for the first cloned human, which he (only half jokingly) suspects may already exist. The consciously misguided message is this: Science is the answer. Technology solves everything, because technology is invulnerable. And this is what almost everyone in America thought around 8:30 A.M. But something happens three and a half minutes into "Kid A". It suddenly doesn't feel right, and you don't exactly know why. This is followed by track three, "The National Anthem"
This is when the first plane slams into the north tower at 470 mph.
"The National Anthem" sounds a bit like a Morphine song. It's a completley different direction from the first two songs on KID A, and it's confusing; it's chaotic. "What's going on?," the lyrics ask. "What's going on?" It gets crazier and crazier, until the second plane hits the second tower (at 9:03 A.M. in reality and at 3:42 in the song). For a moment, things are somber. But then it gets more anarchic. (Reader's Note: You might want to consider playing KID A right about now, since I'm not always so good at explaining shit like this). Which leads into track four, "How to Disappear Completely." This is the point where it feels like the world is possibly ending. People try to convince themselves that they are not there. People keep repeating: "This isn't happening". People are "floating" (read: falling) to the earth. We are told of strobe lights and blown speakers; there are fireworks and hurricanes. This is a song about being burned alive and jumping out of windows, and this is a song about having to watch those things happen. And it's followed by an instrumental piece without melody ("Treefingers"), because what can you say when skyscrapers collapse? All you can do is stare at them with your hand over your mouth.
Time passes. It's afternoon. KID A's side two, if you have it on vinyl. Action is replaced by thought. The song is "Optimistic, " a word that becomes more meaningful in its absence. It has lyrics about Ground Zero ("vultures circle the dead"), and it offers a glimpse into how Al Qaeda members think Americans perceive international diplomacy ("the big fish eat the little ones, the big fish eat the little ones/Not my problem, give me some"). Track seven, "In Limbo" is about how the United States has been shaken out of its fantasy, with "nowhere to hide," finding only "trap doors that open, I spiral down"......
He goes on, but you get the general idea. You should really check it out yourselves if you're curious, but I thought I'd share some of it here.
Also, I have to say, I wasn't really all that hot about Kid A upon its release. I was freelancing at the time for an ill-fated "teen-oriented" website (`cos, y'know, who better to write for teens than me, eh?) called I-Stash (don't look for it, it's long gone), and I reviewed this album. I wish I could find what I wrote, but in a nutshell, I was basically pretty lazy in my description (which may have had more to do with spacial limitation than any disdain I may have harbored for the album at the time). I listened to it dutifully for reviewing purposes, and then filed it away until --- well, until last week, I suppose, when Chuck's suggestions prompted a new listening. I have to say, it's much better than I initially remembered.
Alright, bear with me on this one....this is where it gets a bit strange.
So, there I am: overnight shift. I finally get a chance to spin Kid A in its entirety, as synched up with Klosterman's admittedly half-assed outline of it mimicing the events of September 11. For some reason, during my overnight shifts in the dead of night and in the first light of the early morning, I so often think back to the events of that day, going so far as to trawl the `Net for conspiracy-theory sites or footage etc. It's like picking at a scar, I can't explain it. Like many New Yorkers, I suspect, I am still drawn to recapture the disquieting state of alarm that those events conjured.
In any case, there I am, tracking Kid A and attempting to match up in my mind the course of that fateful day as Chuck depicts it. In doing so, I'm flipping through the exhaustively complicated booklet that comes with Kid A (I'm not talking about the "hidden" booklet under the disc tray either, but rather the booklet that comes sheethed within the translucent front of the jewelbox. This website featuring the album artwork might help you follow along with this next part.
Open the booklet. The front is the front cover (featuring the crudely drawn mountains and the album title). The second two paged feature: on the left: another mountainous scene, dwarfed by an indefinable white figure that towers over little red cubes and menacing figures with big teeth and Mickey Mouse ears. On the opposite side, what looks like a drab landscape. No hugely defining characteristics to describe. Turn this page.
On the second two page, there is a flap on the left hand side that, if opened, depicts a nother mountainous landscape. Don't bother with that. On the right side, is an ambiguous design on translucent grey paper. Turn the page.
On this pairing, on the left hand side (on the translucent grey paper) is what looks like a hallway framed with stalagmites. On the right hand side is some geometric design over a crude landscape. The colors are black, grey and light brown. Turn the page.
On the right hand side of this paring, we see a group of figures (their backs to us) looking at what looks like a giant iceberg or possibly a wave. On the opposite side is just more of that same ice/wave imaery
(with a splotch of red in the lower left hand corner).
Stay with me, there's a point to all of this.
Turn the page again.
On the left hand side of the booklet, ther is an ambiguous picture of what looks like a landscape from a birds eye perspective with lots of grey and black geometric shapes. On the other side is another indefineable illustration on that same grey, translucent paper. Turn the page.
On the next pairing, on the left you have the other side of the grey, translucent page....on the RIGHT side there is a flap that opens. OPEN THAT FLAP .
Open the flap to its fullest extent. Over four colored panels, there is depicted what looks like a distressed landscape, followed by a black panel featuring liner notes
ON THE COLORED PANAL IMMEDIATELY TO THE LEFT ON THE LINER NOTES PANEL
there is a vague but discernible image of two oblong, rectangular blocks. One sports an antenae like spire from its top, while the other seemingly is hemorrhaging a swathe of fiery oranges and reds, as if it either ablaze or bleeding. To my mind, this image looks eerily similar to the Twin Towers.
Basically, I'm talking about the image to the far right here.
It's a bit small, but you should get the idea. Anyway, yes, it was late. Yes, the power of suggestion is a potent one, but indulge me and take a look at this design and tell me what you see.