“High and Dry” by Radiohead was the anthem of my late teen years and my 20s. It came back to my life again and again in various ways and took on different shades of meaning each time.
The first time I noticed the song was when I was 16 at Wala Wala’s a bar in Holland Village – an food and entertainment strip on the west side of Singapore. There was a cover band playing generic music such as the American Top 40s, that was the only type of music that people played in bars because original music was not desired by the masses.
That cover of the song didn’t leave an impression on me, … it just felt soulless, but for whatever reason, it drove the crowd crazy, so I assumed it was a popular song.
“What song is this?” I shouted distractedly at a friend who was at the bar with me “High and Dry by Radiohead” she shouted back, “You don’t know this song???” she added, looking taken aback by my lack of alt-pop literacy.
Uhhhh, no I didn’t – I was at that time still listening to Simon and Garfunkel and David Foster. It was an early introduction to popular music (from a different era) by my brother (6 yrs older and quite exposed to American music outside of those played on the Singaporean radio-stations at that time)
When I was 17, a friend loaned me a number of her CDs, “Pablo Honey,” “The Bends” by Radiohead as well as a number of Crowded House and U2 albums. These albums transformed the landscape of my music world, and “High and Dry” was one song in a list of songs that I kept on repeat on my Sony Discman.
I enjoyed the simple melodic lines and the lyrics, the message was simple, “don’t abandon meeeee! And if you do, it’s your loss and I wish you HELLLLLL”
And I could definitely resonate with that as a teenager.
When I went for exchange to University of British Columbia in 2004, I met a fellow student in my Italian 101 and film-script writing class and found out that he was a musician too. We went to an open mic together – “Me and Julio Down by The Schoolyard” – one of my favourites by Paul Simon as well as “High and Dry.”
The song carried a different meaning for me at that time – playing the guitar and singing in front of an audience was something that I had never done before, and it felt great!
“High and Dry” holds a spectrum of memories and meanings for me, and if you’re reading this, you probably have your own thoughts and memories surrounding this piece.
What remembrances come back to you as you listen to MeowMeowProject’s (my) cover of it?