Song of the month (#7)

"Separator (Live From the Basement)" from The King of Limbs: Live From the Basement (2011) by Radiohead

The last couple minutes of this live, in-studio version of “Separator” blow me away every time. I’m willing to say it’s perhaps the most beautiful combination of voice and synth and guitar I’ve ever encountered. Be warned: a casual listen will not yield the same experience as a devoted listen. This song must build in its listener. It must be loud—very loud—and one has to release all inhibitions and get lost between the notes. Allow the music to wash over you and be ready to go for a swim in that ocean of synths and the river of guitar strums it feeds. The beauty burgeons as Thom sings, “If you think this is over, then you’re wrong,” and the last two iterations in particular form the figurative cliff the devoted listener is shoved from before falling into the comfortable abyss of musical sublimity. Thom sings “wake me up” again and again, and to be honest I’ve never heard a more stunning moment in music.

It might very well be that this song has the aformentioned effects on me and me alone… I certainly can’t speak for others. When I listen to it, though, I can’t help but fall under its spell; it’s as if I’m tranced into the very dream the song’s first line describes. The album version of “Separator” is fantastic in its own right—and perhaps better as a whole—but it’s the unique sound of Thom’s Epiphone Casino and the accompanying in-house synthesizers of those last two minutes that make all the difference for me. No matter what kind of stress I’m under, I can always kick back, blast this track, and dissolve into the music.

Listen here.

My 20 Favorite Music Albums

1. In Rainbows (2007), Radiohead

2. OK Computer (1997), Radiohead

3. Kid A (2000), Radiohead

4. The King of Limbs (2011), Radiohead

5. Amnesiac (2001), Radiohead

6. The Bends (1995), Radiohead

7. Hail to the Thief (2003), Radiohead

8. The Eraser (2006), Thom Yorke

9. Amok (2013), Atoms For Peace

10. Nighthawks at the Diner (1975), Tom Waits

11. Ultraísta (2012), Ultraísta

12. Heligoland (2010), Massive Attack

13. Greatest Hits (1994), Bob Seger

14. Crazy Clown Time (2012), David Lynch

15. The Big Dream (2013), David Lynch

16. Alice (2002), Tom Waits

17. Rain Dogs (1985), Tom Waits

18. Sam’s Town (2004), The Killers

19. Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995), Smashing Pumpkins

20. Wish You Were Here (1975), Pink Floyd

This is easily the most difficult top 20 I’ve had to make. Movies are one thing, but ranking favorite albums? A different affair entirely. Half of these albums are tied with the other half: it’s really not fair. And Tom Waits got cheated because I love dozens of individual songs from his twenty or so albums. Yeah, this list doesn’t do most of my music any justice whatsoever.

Alright. Last one. This is my third favorite song ever. No actual video footage available for this one, but it was also performed “Live from the Basement;” this time in 2011. THE LAST TWO MINUTES.

This is Radiohead’s second performance at the Roseland Ballroom in NYC back in September of 2011, before the band embarked on their world tour. YouTube user allbearsrule was nice enough (and diligent enough) to put together this multi-camera, 720p video and post it online for all to enjoy. I skipped through the video to watch a couple of my favorite songs performed, and the band were really on their game that night. Enjoy.

Are you KIDDING me? How gorgeous is this recording? Those last two and a half minutes are better than the original’s, by far. That last minute and a half? JESUS. Those guitars and synths are what always get me. This is why I love them.