Happy 10th birthday, 'OK Computer'!

Radiohead_lThe first album to boldly throw some old-school Macintosh "alert" beeps between songs turns 10 today. But this post is not about OK Computer‘s landmark status, its place in the rock canon, or its influence on the music that followed. Rather, it’s to celebrate the Radiohead disc for being one of those albums you can listen to all the way through, every single time. It’s a No Need To Track Forward Album! One among few.

Since it came out in 1997, I’ve spent probably an entire month of my life listening to OK Computer, but my one truly obsessive stretch occurred in college, when I sequestered myself in my dorm’s study lounge to write my senior thesis for five days straight. At times, the only things in this pathetic, horribly decorated little room were me, my laptop and a big styrofoam cup of guacamole (because I’d run out of chips). When I got writer’s block, I’d roll my finger around the edges of the cup for entire minutes at a time. It was not a good scene. But amid the dread, intense self-loathing, and repellent odor, there was light. I probably listened to OK Computer close to 100 times. I was in the zone because of this album. So thanks, Radiohead! You saved me. For those five days, I was not fitter and not happier, but definitely the most productive I’ve been to date.

Post your own OK Computer memories below, and if they’re not a lot cooler than mine, you’re banned from the site. (Don’t worry — it’s an impossible scenario! My roommates were calling me Paranoid Anniedroid. GEEK.)


Comments (53 total) Add your comment
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  • Neffs

    For me (and I’m dating myself relative to you Annie) it was a divorce. It sounds like a lousy soundtrack for a divorce, but it was actually quite soothing and got me through a few days at work when I really didn’t want to be there. I still think Thom Yorke’s voice is very soothing.

  • krikky

    I was a late bloomer on this album, didn’t discover it until 2004. But I listened to it on my first business trip to Paris, the one were I met my ex-French lovah. I would listen to it on the Metro on my way to and from his apartment afterwork. Tres romantique! I shed a silent tear now every time I hear “No Surprises”.

  • Jason

    For me it was released right before I left the south and moved to NYC. It was also the first concert I went to in the city, Radiohead at Radio City Music Hall. Brilliant.

  • jake

    This album came out the same day i started working at Sound Source, a local used cd store. I remember it also coincided with the release of Hum’s Downward is Heavenward, another album with no need to track forward.
    Ok Computer and its predecessor, The Bends are both albums that I still listen to from beginning to end on many occasions…

  • Maddie

    Well, it would be a No Need To Track Forward Album with the unfortunate exception of Fitter Happier…this gimmick of a song mars an otherwise perfect album.

  • Ben

    Someone left the CD in a practice room at school. I couldn’t stop listening to it. It took me months to figure out who owned the CD, and who the artist was! They became one of my favorite bands immediately. I went out and bought “The Bend” and “Pablo Honey” immediately. Of course I gave the owner his CD back, too.

  • Brian Z

    I bought this the first day, still in high school, while my brother was visiting from college. I liked it the first listen but it was never a summer album for me. I wanted something more lively at the time. Soon as fall hit, I put it on again one day and the music flowed over me and I’ve loved the album every day since. One of my all time favorites.

  • Derek

    The most important record of my lifetime. Has influenced everybody on from Travis through The K-Rex Struts to Bright Eyes. Amazing.

  • Stephanie Travitsky

    This is probably the most intelligent album of Radiohead’s career, but I still say that The Bends is my favorite.

  • Kyle

    It’s weird to see albums I bought when they were new elevated to classic status. I bought this when I was 14. I’m almost 24.

  • Slammy

    The Bends is still better.

  • Sabrina

    This CD was one of five in my CD changer that never came out for any reason…I played it like an anthem during that time…I was expecting my oldest daughter…It was a crisis pregnancy…very lonely…very uncertain…This CD represents growth for me…I still cherish it…My daughter is ten now and kinda grooves on it, too…We are in a much better place now, things turned out awesome for us…I wrote my first book of poetry while listening to this CD…on an ancient MAC at a friend’s house…my baby was doing flips on the inside and my legs would occasionally go numb…my friend included a poem in HER book about listening to the same CD for the 200th time…we both published our books just OK Computer really defines a time and place for meafter my baby was born in…

  • Jason

    I’ve always thought Thom Yorke’s voice is vaguely romantic, even if it’s also mournful. OK COMPUTER is a classic for all of the production touches and of course Thom’s vocals. My main memories of listening to it are from college when I had a crush on someone and would listen to Thom’s yearning for hours because it matched my own. Even if OK COMPUTER is about the effects technology has had on society, I think it’s just as much an ode to that society and it’s why we tap into it.

  • OK KID

    I was 12 years old when I bought this album. I remember going home and opening it and having no idea that the songs within would go on to shape, shake and comfort me well on into my adult years. I turned 22 a few months back. Rare few albums stay with you.

  • ikon

    Geez…this CD spent that entire summer in my car CD player. Just reading about it, it’s going back in tomorrow. One of the modern classics…and spot on about not having to forward; not an unlistenable track on the CD.

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