Radiohead’s New ‘Lift’ Video Sends Thom Yorke on a Crazy, Endless Elevator Ride
The beautifully shot short film features a seemingly withdrawn Thom Yorke patiently stationed on a lift (or if you insist on American terminology, “elevator”) that appears to stop everywhere but his own destination.
Standing still while the cabin is filled then emptied by a circus of businessmen, elderly passengers, and unsupervised children, the surreal ride exposes Yorke to mysterious clinics, public bathrooms, and private bedrooms and dining rooms.
Recorded in 1997 but shelved from the final studio album, “Lift” finally saw its formal introduction to the world this year as a single released as part of OKNOTOK, the band’s 20th anniversary deluxe reissue of OK Computer.
OKNOTOK featured three previously unreleased tracks. Radiohead first shared “I Promise” in early June, followed by “Man of War” shortly thereafter, each with their own typically high-minded promotional video. “Lift” was the third and final OKNOTOK single, which hadn’t been paired with its own clip until now.
While it hadn’t previously appeared on a Radiohead release, “Lift” quickly became a fan favorite when the band began to include it in live performances while touring behind 1995’s The Bends. And although it was ultimately kept off OK Computer, the band has confessed to trying (unfruitfully) to fit it onto 2016’s A Moon Shaped Pool.
In an interview with BBC 6 Music, guitarist Ed O’Brien recently offered an explanation for omitting the crowd-pleasing “Lift” from OK Computer. Recalling that it had been greeted with an immediate positive response from the crowd when debuting it while opening up for Alanis Morissette, O’Brien confessed that the band had feared the song risked pressuring the band into a different direction. “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. 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.”
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