Lift

Album: OKNOTOKCOMPUTER 1997-2017 (2017)

Songfacts®:

  • This song was originally recorded by Radiohead for their OK Computer album, but the band were unhappy with the version they'd laid down and it was left off the final tracklisting. Further unsuccessful attempts were made while recording Kid A and Amnesiac, before the fivesome fell out of love with the track, despite it being a fan favorite in concert. However, in 2015, guitarist Jonny Greenwood hinted that they were giving "Lift" another try and two years later, it was among three previously unreleased tracks on OKNOTOK, the 20th anniversary reissue of OK Computer.
  • Guitarist Ed O'Brien told BBC 6 Music the band kept this fan favorite under wraps out of a subconscious concern that it would make them too popular. "'Lift' is a funny song," he said. "We played that live with Alanis Morrissette, and it was a really interesting song because the audience, suddenly you'd see them get up and start grooving, it had this kind of infectiousness about it. It was a big, anthemic song. If that song had been on that album, it would have taken us to a different place, and we'd have probably sold a lot more records, if we'd done it right, and everyone was saying this."

    "I think we kind of subconsciously killed it, because if OK Computer had been like a Jagged Little Pill, like Alanis Morrissette, it would have killed us," O'Brien added. "But 'Lift' probably had the potential, if we'd done it right, it just had this magic about it. And we didn't do a good version, because when we got to the studio and did it on that record it was a bit like having a gun to your head, it felt like so much pressure."
  • "Lift" was first performed on March 14 1996 at West Hollywood's Troubadour during The Bends tour. It continued to make it onto the band's set lists until 2002, when following a brief couple of appearances Radiohead stopped playing the tune.
  • The surrealistic video quite aptly sees Thom Yorke trapped in a lift ("Lift" is what British people call elevators). As he rides up and down the Radiohead singer encounters a series of bizarre people. The clip was shot by London based director Oscar Hudson.

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