|Chicago Sun-Times, june 7th 1993|
The Radiohead Vision Creeps Onto Airwaves
by Cristi Kempf
Radiohead; Trash Can Sinatras 7 p.m. June 30 Metro, 3730 N. Clark Tickets, $ 8; all ages (312) 559-1212
The woman who inspired Radiohead's song "Creep" may never know just how special she is.
At least, that's what guitarist Jonny Greenwood would have the world believe. Singer Thom Yorke, who laments about being a "creep" and a "weirdo" in the presence of an angelic vision, will never see that woman again, Greenwood says.
In fact, they've never met.
That special woman turned up at this concert in Exeter, England, where Radiohead's members went to college, Greenwood, 21, explains. "Thom was mortified, because he's never spoken to her or anything. He just followed her for a couple of days or a week or whatever about two or three years ago. And here she was. He was very shaken up after that."
Mortification aside, "Creep" is actually a happy song, says Greenwood, whose band has just been booked for June 30 at Metro. "It's about recognizing what you are."
So is Yorke, who wrote the lyrics, a creep or what?
"Oh, no!" Greenwood says. "He can be quite, ummm, childish, I guess. And he's very creative. But not a creep, exactly. No."
Creeps or not, Radiohead, whose members now live in Oxford, has struck quite a chord with its first single off of the album "Pablo Honey." "It's turned into one of those anthems, like Pink Floyd's 'The Wall,' " says disc jockey Carla Leonardo of WKQX-FM (101.1), who categorizes the tune as "anti-social."
Some have tagged "Creep" a "chick song," figuring its power-pop balladry appeals mainly to young women, "Q-101's" target audience. But Leonardo, who gets many phone requests for it, exclaims, "God, no!"
"Most people who call are guys and they all sound like weirdos!"
Greenwood says Radiohead "just knew 'Creep' was going to be successful."
He should know, after giving "Creep" its sharp little teeth in the form of some out-of-the-blue loud guitar bursts.
"I didn't like it. It stayed quiet," says Greenwood, referring to his initial opinion of the song. "So I hit the guitar hard - really hard."
Radiohead has won critical acclaim here, but all is not rosy in England, where, Greenwood says, "Creep" was much less warmly received. As in the United States, radio listeners hear that the woman is "very special"; on the CD, the phrase is "------- special."
Perhaps doing a sanitized, radio-friendly version is a "bit of a sellout," Greenwood says. "But then we thought, Sonic Youth has done it. We thought it wouldn't be that bad. But the British press, they weren't impressed."
Also unimpressed, but for different reasons, is Mother Greenwood, who has another son, Colin, also in the band.
"My mom wants me to be a lawyer," Greenwood says. "Occasionally I play the music for her when she demands to hear it and she always just says, 'Who is that singing? I don't like the singing.' And then she says 'Who's doing all that bumpety-bump noise?' It's all noise backing up horrible singing as far as she's concerned. She's not a show-biz mother."
But, no doubt, she's very special.