Street Spirit (Fade Out) (4:12)

Cover of The Bends

From The Bends and 175 other releases

One of Radiohead’s most successful singles, and a fan favourite.

Noted by singer-songwriter and guitarist Thom Yorke as “one of saddest songs” and describing it as “the dark tunnel without the light at the end,” “Street Spirit” was released as the band’s ninth single and reached number five on the UK Singles Chart, the highest chart position until Paranoid Android from OK Computer, which reached number three in 1997.

Radiohead attributes a great deal of depth to “Street Spirit”, beyond the level typically perceived by its audience. Lead singer Thom Yorke said,

“Street Spirit is our purest song, but I didn’t write it. It wrote itself. We were just its messengers; its biological catalysts. Its core is a complete mystery to me, and, you know, I wouldn’t ever try to write something that hopeless. All of our saddest songs have somewhere in them at least a glimmer of resolve. Street Spirit has no resolve. It is the dark tunnel without the light at the end. It represents all tragic emotion that is so hurtful that the sound of that melody is its only definition. We all have a way of dealing with that song. It’s called detachment. Especially me; I detach my emotional radar from that song, or I couldn’t play it. I’d crack. I’d break down on stage. That’s why its lyrics are just a bunch of mini-stories or visual images as opposed to a cohesive explanation of its meaning. I used images set to the music that I thought would convey the emotional entirety of the lyric and music working together.

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