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(Credit: Alamy)


Why Thom Yorke sympathises with Bob Dylan


Radiohead have lived with a gloomy impression of themselves ever since the surprising global success ‘Creep’. Regardless of what they have created in the years that followed, for many, the band will never be able to shake that image, with certain listeners refusing to see them in a different light.

For a turbulent period of time, Thom Yorke found it challenging to rid himself of the ‘tortured soul’ depiction that became the common consensus. Yorke, in no uncertain terms, felt it was a misconception of the band. However, he found solace in likening it to what Bob Dylan has dealt with throughout his career.

With hindsight on our side, most can see that the Oxfordshire group are one of the most dynamic and versatile bands that Britain has ever produced. However, it took Radiohead a prolonged period for that to become the commonly held opinion.

While critics never questioned their talent, the group were undoubtedly pigeon-holed, and Yorke decided to ignore the noise. If he hadn’t, the issue could have prevented him from being the most authentic version of himself, and his artistry would have suffered as a result. “That consensus probably represents where we were at at one point, but it doesn’t now,” Yorke admitted to Brian Draper in 2004.

Adding: “I think that what tends to happen, with the way the music business puts people across, is that initially everyone is really interested in representing what exactly they see you doing and after that they simply perpetuate it and that becomes the definitive.”

Yorke then used Dylan as an example and explained: “Like Bob Dylan – you know, there are certain elements of Dylan that are endlessly reproduced, even though most of them happened 40 years ago.

“Obviously, we don’t have it as bad, and there is no point in getting upset about it. During the OK Computer period, it got so silly that I had to make a conscious decision to switch it all off and not worry about it any more.”

He continued, “If you get stuck in other people’s impressions of what you do, it actually starts informing how you carry on – and then you know you’re in trouble, because then you’re part of this noise that actually was nothing to do with you in the first place. Do you know what I mean?”.

Perhaps if Radiohead had emerged through the age of social media, then this unwanted public relations scenario could have been avoided, and they could have shared their true personalities. However, the misconstrued opinion didn’t harm their career in the slightest, and it certainly didn’t have a detrimental impact on Bob Dylan either.