Speak To Me, Vol. 6 is here!
“Fake Plastic Trees” by Radiohead is a song that grows on me with each deeper listening. Why does it speak to me?
Firstly, I love the melody.
Secondly, it’s got plenty of vocal yumminess. Any opportunity to flip from head voice into falsetto is golden if you ask me, and it’s an especially powerful move in the male voice. (Think of Shawn Mullins’s hit song “Lullaby” when he sings “ev-er-y-thing is gonna be alright”…that technique is what I call “the flip” and has been used to great effect by tons of male singers from Chris Martin of Coldplay to Chris Isaac). So it’s fun when I get a chance to use it (makes me ponder why I don’t use it more)!
Most of all this song packs a lyrical punch that is just deadly. For me, Radiohead songs are all about emotion and dynamic tension, but many times the lyrics are so cerebral that he makes me think while I’m in the middle of feeling what he is feeling. My favorite thing about the lyrics of this song is that all of the emotion, frustration, and weariness of the song are distilled down into one small line that I just can’t stop thinking about… “Gravity always wins.”
Dammit, Thom Yorke, that’s brilliant.
The chorus does two things to highlight the emotion it is addressing: to great effect, the choruses are much softer than the verses. Also, the chorus is just one line repeated over and over again.. ‘it wears her out’ or ‘it wears him out’. By the fourth time you hear that line, you feel the weariness of her being worn out.
I won’t post all of the lyrics here, but if you lay them all out, it reads like a poem. It raises an important question about all the fakeness, all the plasticness of modern life and our society’s tendency to value style over substance. For me, he has hit the nail right on the head, because that shit just wears me out.