Here Are Radiohead’s Personal Discoveries from Their Public Library
The band members took turns curating picks from the extensive online archive.
You’ve probably heard by now that the Radiohead Public Library site launched this week, an expansive treasure trove of videos, audio, photos, merch, and other artifacts from the band’s twenty-seven-plus years career. The sheer volume of material is overwhelming. You can find everything from Drill , their long-unavailable debut EP from 1992, to their “office chart” playlists from their A Moon Shaped Pool recording sessions in 2016, and everything in between.
To commemorate the library’s opening week, the band have been taking turns serving as “librarian” each day, spotlighting their finds from the archive along with personal anecdotes on the RPL site. They’ve also each made their own Radiohead Public Library cards—you can even make one for yourself here.
Here are all of their picks to help guide you through this massive haul.
First up to tackle the library was bassist Colin Greenwood, digging deep in the vaults with finds including a surprising cover of Carly Simon’s James Bond song “Nobody Does it Better” for MTV’s Most Wanted in 1995, which he proclaimed “such a beautiful glamorous Bond song, the best.” Other choices included their performance of “Airbag” on the UK’s longstanding show Later… with Jools Holland (“‘Airbag’ and a very cool set. Like being inside the record, maaaan,” he noted), “Lift” at the Pinkpop festival in the Netherlands from 1997 (“Thom ‘borrowed’ a security guard’s sou’wester and we played ‘Lift,'” he recalled), and their full twenty-one song set “without edits for ad breaks” for another MTV show, Live at the 10 Spot from 1997.
Perhaps guitarist Ed O’Brien wasn’t feeling as sentimental as the others, picking only one artifact from the vaults: the full live set from Bonnaroo on June 17, 2006 directed by Danny Clinch. “Bonnaroo in 2006 was just a great gig for us,” he commented. “We were on tour in North America playing songs for what would be In Rainbows…we knew we were playing a jam fest and therefore had longer to play, so we did what was probably our longest ever set, near the three hour mark. It was a glorious warm balmy Southern night, and the groove was good…the audience were incredible. Love and live for nights such as this….”
Colin’s younger brother, guitarist/keyboardist Jonny Greenwood, choose five relics from the library, citing Hail to the Thief‘s “There There” as “best video we’ve ever done,” an obscure promotional clip with the mysterious character Chieftain Mews unpacking the OKNOTOK box set as the “best marketing we’ve ever done,” and, amazingly, what appears to be their preserved and functioning band website circa 1997 (“website design the way mom and pop used to do it”).
Drummer Philip Selway also picked five gems from the vaults, digging up live clips from Glastonbury 1997, reflecting on the awkward “Jigsaw Falling Into Place” music video (“when you’re in the middle of it, you don’t realize quite how weird we can look sometimes. But….jeez”), and citing their 2011 appearance on The Colbert Report as “one of the earliest performances we did with (drummer) Clive Deamer and a good harbinger of what was to come.”
Last but not least, frontman Thom Yorke was the final librarian to browse the shelves, selecting six relics along with the most insightful commentary of them all. He dug up the “Live from a Tent in Dublin” clip from 2000 (“I have only a dim recollection of this show”), a music video competition winner for “Videotape” (“for some reason this one floored me completely. Hats off to them”), and their performance for the French television show Nulle Part Ailleurs (“I managed to knock the end of my tooth off on the mic by jumping accidentally on the base of the stand during ‘Idioteque.’ Which hurt considerably and why I made a prompt exit.”).
But most revealing is his commentary for the frantic 1998 documentary Meeting People Is Easy, which is featured in its entirety on the site. “I’ve never really watched this since it was completed,” he commented. “I couldn’t because it would send me back down a mental hole that would take me days to recover from. But now skimming through it looks kind of funny, sad and alarming at the same time. I still recognize us all. But would have had some strong words for myself at this point.”