You’d be hard-pressed to find music fans who don’t think that Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke is a genius.
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The songwriter is known for his intricate songs with heady lyrics and highfalutin concepts. His songs are dense, at times meandering, but always thoughtful and unique.
How else should a genius be defined?
But what does the 53-year-old, British-born Yorke have to say about the world around him when he’s not singing? How does Yorke think about the world, about love, about his craft when not in front of a microphone?
That is the subject of this inquiry today. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the 20 best Thom Yorke quotes.
1. “Sometimes the nicest thing to do with a guitar is just look at it.”
2. “I’ve never believed that pop music is escapist trash. There’s always a darkness in it, even amidst great pop music.”
3. “I think the most important thing about music is the sense of escape.”
4. “I grew up believing that I was fundamentally powerless.”
5. “At home, I’ve got a very puerile, juvenile sense of humor.”
6. “I had a series of mini-breakdowns where the public persona—this thing, this face, this person who writes this music… I would walk past that person in the mirror or listen to that person playing guitar and I didn’t know who they were.”
7. “I went to a boys’ school, and I didn’t realize that most guys join bands because they wanted to get girls. I was not really focused on that the way everybody else was.”
8. “I think artists can influence only through making music that challenges people, excites them, and flips them out. Music that repeats what you know in ever-decreasing derivation, that’s unchallenging and unstimulating, deadens our minds, our imagination, and our ability to see beyond the hell we find ourselves in.”
9. “My argument would be that I don’t think there is much that’s genuinely political art that is good art.”
10. “My songs are my kids. Some of them stay with me, some others I have to send out to the war. It might sound stupid and it might even sound naive, but that’s just the way it is.”
11. “Coming from Britain, I was terrified of meeting all these other artists, because artists over there tend to fight with each other a lot, the premise being that there’s not enough room for everybody.”
12. “I think we’re entering a very dangerous time. The West has set itself up, decided it’s in charge, not for good intentions, not for the benefit of mankind.”
13. “So ultimately, it’s idealistic to think that artists are able to step away from the power of the media and the way it controls things, and go on doing their own things.”
14. “I know I’m paranoid and neurotic, I’ve made a career out of it.”
15. “I’m not afraid of computers taking over the world.”
16. “People in bands don’t have the kind of conversations people might think they have. The best things about being in a band are the things that are unsaid.”
17. “The people in charge, globally, are maniacs. They are maniacs, and unless we do something about it these people are going to deprive us of a future.”
18. “Well, my son really loves wildlife. And every time he draws a polar bear I want to tell him there probably won’t any by the time… he’s my age. That’s kinda hard to deal with.”
19. “One of the interesting things here is that the people who should be shaping the future are politicians. But the political framework itself is so dead and closed that people look to other sources, like artists, because art and music allow people a certain freedom.”
20. “Being in a band turns you into a child and keeps you there.”
Photo by David Wolff-Patrick/Redferns