Friday, December 6, 2019
If I had to list one unifying theme so far in my series of the 100 greatest albums of all time (with each individually being the greatest album of all time), it would be "painful beauty". You know, kind of like Rilke says: What is beauty but the beginning of a terror we can just barely endure.
But today, with the Radiohead album Ok Computer, the greatest album of all time, we depart from our accidental theme built up out of our past choices. It is not painful beauty that defines Ok Computer, rather it is an exquisitely painful beauty.
So really, really different.
I have a very rough, unwritten sketch of what all my 100 greatest albums will be when it's all done. The rest is just a matter of how and when I write about each one. Here's the true story of how Ok Computer found its time today:
I was shopping for food with my wife at one of our preferred local co-ops, Eastside. They were playing particularly good music quietly over their sound system. This is something that happens a lot in co-ops, which makes sense. As I half listened I was picking out just how many organic clementines I wanted to invest in, and wondering at the cheapness of the Brazil nuts, when I noticed the music change.
It was coming from the sky.
No, it was coming from a dark heaven. I set down my black and shining coffee beans. I physically had to move closer to the music. Searching, pulled, I wandered, slowly hypnotized, to the produce section. I ended up behind some pears. I was at the loudest spot. Rooted to an earth of which I had no awareness of in the moment, I looked up into the pale plastic speaker six feet above me. And the sound fell. And fell. And fell.
It really is the greatest album ever made.
In writing these I like to provide a link to a song or two if I can find one somewhere on the Internet, and in doing so here I thought what could be more perfect than to link that very ethereal song that came drifting down on me like a mystifying fog in the store.
I wasn't sure what song it was so I listened to all the twelve songs on Ok Computer to see what song it actually was.
It was all of them.