I was a bit hesitant to listen to Thom Yorke’s first solo effort, The Eraser, upon its release in 2006.
While I loved his voice and his lyrics, I always felt that the Greenwoods were as important to Radiohead’s songwriting process as Thom Yorke was. Following Radiohead’s career arc, it seemed like any time Yorke’s influence over the band’s direction got stronger, the results got weirder. Not bad weird, but I got the impression that without the Greenwoods there to counterbalance his tangents, they would become more and more experimental.
As it turns out, I was wrong. Well, mostly. There’s some pretty strange stuff on The Eraser, but it’s mostly listenable, and the stuff that isn’t too listenable is still interesting. And besides, listening to things that are difficult to listen to is good exercise for your ears.
The title track is probably my favourite, and Christian Scott does it justice (and then some) on his 2010 album Yesterday You Said Tomorrow.
What makes this a beautiful song:
1. The…thing…that rattles. I don’t know what it is. It might be a snare. But every time the piano hits one of its chords, something rattles. At first it bugged me, because I thought something was wrong with my speakers. But now I like it.
2. The soft trumpet tone. Scott calls it his “whisper tone”, and it’s a trademark of his playing. I love it because it means that his trumpet needs to be recorded really close, picking up all the subtleties of his playing.
3. The tempo change at 3:20. In both the original and this version, it’s a startling switch that doesn’t seem to make at sense. But like everything else in the song, it works effortlessly and inexplicably.
Recommended listening activity:
Doing something that’s difficult but worth it.