'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.
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 august 12th 1995:
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