riffs Alanis Morissette on Fake Plastic Trees by Radiohead

Alanis Morissette
Thursday 12 October 1995 23:02

I'm the kind of person who has a different favourite song every week but this week it's "Fake Plastic Trees" by Radiohead. I was looking through video reels to decide on a director for my first video and I saw their promo for that song. I remember being moved by the video but the song just left me speechless.

As an artist, when I hear songs I can usually tell whether the person who wrote it was spiritually involved with the song, and whether it was stream-of-consciousness or not. And I could really tell that the singer, Thom Yorke, was every bit in the music, the lyric and the moment. Not only when he was writing it, but recording it too.

You can just tell. It's this intangible, spiritual thing that you get from a song when you hear it. I get it from other artists, too - people like Seal and REM and Jane's Addiction. You just hear this person singing from this spiritual place. And I know when I hear "Fake Plastic Trees" - it's like, OK, he was there.

It's a mood piece but lyrically he delves into his own vulnerability and talks about materialism and fallibility. Just different pieces of emotion, basically the sadness of being human. Musically, the dynamics of it knock you out if nothing else. That part when he goes, "And it wears you out": that just takes my heart and throws it on the floor. His voice is fragile, but there's nothing premeditated about the way he performs.

I love it when a song can take me on a voyage, when there's nothing predictable about it. There was a whole two years when I would rather have written a song than listen to one. Now I'm back into music.

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