Radiohead Explain Why ‘Lift’ was Too Good for ‘OK Computer’

Ed O’Brien predicts it would've killed the band.

By Hayden Wright

Radiohead have dropped videos and posters to commemorate the 20th anniversary of their seminal album OK Computer, which was released in 1997. Yesterday, the band announced that they’ll release a collector’s edition in honor of the landmark birthday — featuring the soaring “Lift” and other tracks that didn’t make the original cut. Guitarist Ed O’Brien says “Lift” could’ve changed the band’s entire trajectory if it’d appeared on OK Computer.

Related: Radiohead Drop Mysterious ‘OK Computer’ Anniversary Video

“‘Lift’ is a funny song,” O’Brien told BBC 6 Music. “We played that live with Alanis Morissette, and it was a really interesting song because the audience, suddenly you’d see them get up and start grooving. It had this kind of infectiousness about it. It was a big, anthemic song. If that song had been on that album, it would have taken us to a different place, and we’d have probably sold a lot more records if we’d done it right, and everyone was saying this.”

But Radiohead didn’t feel prepared for the song’s broad appeal. Instead, it sat alongside “True Love Waits” as one of the band’s most important never-released (until recently) songs. O’Brien says their prudent decision to hold off on “Lift” paid off.

“I think we kind of subconsciously killed it because if OK Computer had been like a Jagged Little Pill, like Alanis Morissette, it would have killed us. But ‘Lift’ probably had the potential, if we’d done it right, it just had this magic about it. And we didn’t do a good version because when we got to the studio and did it on that record it was a bit like having a gun to your head, it felt like so much pressure.”

Watch Radiohead perform “Lift” live in 1996 here:

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