Rorschach Feedback: 'You Hack' 

Mr. Yorke responds, wethinks. But c'mon, Thom, whaddaya make of the kids' Radiohead interpretations?

Ladies and gentlemen, we proudly present Down in Front's received e-mail message of the year:

It's "National Anthem," not "Natural Anthem," you hack. -- Thom Yorke

The phone number provided: obviously fake. The e-mail address bounces back if you reply, though it originated from Radiohead .com, which lends at least a whiff of legitimacy.

Oh, screw it -- it's most probably some bitter loyalist hacker dude. But the poignancy remains: One of my musical heroes -- or, far more likely, someone posing as one of my musical heroes -- has christened me a hack.

This is either the zenith or nadir of my journalistic career.

Thom/Bitter Loyalist Hacker's missive joined a disquietingly large chorus of folks responding to "Radiohead Rorschach" (September 27), in which a fifth-grade class in San Leandro listened to Radiohead songs and, armed with Sharpies and blank sheets of paper, generated honest, unbiased emotional responses to the music. Their responses vacillated wildly between amusing, distracted, irreverent, and profoundly disturbing (i.e. depicting a booth offering "free suicides").

Herein lies a brief overview of the discourse spawned by this experiment:

What am I to make of these drawings? Are the drawings representative of the music and its message, or simply a fifth grader expressing his place in the world? Some of the drawings have obvious links to the music and others are debatable. Is there a place to see the other drawings and what are your thoughts on the possibility of the drawings being simply a reflection of each child as an individual? -- Daniel Lucas, Denver

Dude, one kid drew a thousand-foot-tall ice-cream cone. Another drew a baseball bat. A third drew a detailed romantic panorama from the film Aladdin. I dare say we had an at-best tenuous hold on their attention. At least 90 percent of the drawings are an accurate reflection of an individual child being terminally bored.

Wow! You really hate Radiohead, don't you! Did Thom Yorke inflict some sort of brutal experience on you or something? Run over your hamster? Sleep with your girlfriend and your mother at the same time? Still, an amusing and entertaining article even to someone of the biased inclination very much opposed to yours. Interesting article, good stuff :)

Stay Beautiful. -- Ben Gilbert, Aberystwyth, Wales

Ah, that fateful afternoon when I caught my mother and my girlfriend in bed together with Thom Yorke -- truly a day that shall live in infamy. I ran his pantless British ass right out of the house; he dove into his bright-yellow Hummer and tore off into the sunset, mangling my hamster in the process.

John Mayer I would've understood. But this is unconscionable.

Just to confirm: That article is a hoax, correct? I've been looking at fifth-grade art, and it's much better, much more refined, than what we see in your article. It's very funny, though. -- David Eisner, Hyattsville, Maryland

David voices a concern raised by several others. Let me assure you these drawings were legitimately crafted by legitimate fifth graders. In their defense, they had only Sharpies, a finite amount of time, and disturbing, alien music at their disposal. Furthermore, I'm pretty sure recess had just ended, and surely you remember how wound-up and distracted you got.

In any event, with the possible exception of the ice-cream cone kid, that entire class draws better than I do.

Great piece, Rob! I'm sharing it with my team as a fine piece of out-of-the-box music journalism. Very enjoyable! -- Michael Alex, vice president, Online; MTV News, New York, New York.

Play more videos.

Allow me to say that this is the most accurate depiction of Radiohead I've ever seen. Granted, as a hip-hop fan, my Radiohead exposure is limited -- but I'm thankful it is. At my last job, I had a co-worker worship Radiohead. From time to time, he'd stick their CDs in the lab stereo. It has to be the most depressing music I've ever heard. Their music could alone explain the difference in suicide rates between Whites and Blacks.

I'm with these kids on this one. I'd rather listen to 50 [Cent], especially the underground street albums. However, I get the feeling that if I make it to hell, Radiohead will be the house band. If you want to have your soul destroyed, have your serotonin levels drop about fiftyfold, or want to commit suicide, well, Radiohead is the SHIT, man! -- Todd Graham, Queens, New York

Todd either needs a career in PR or the option to telecommute.

First off your writing is dry, and you try way too hard to use every little vocabulary you have acquired. The reason I am writing is because of something you said ... by listening to Radiohead it's impossible to have your own opinion. That is purely nonsensical, and the fact you stated that exposes your ignorance to music, as well as your blatant lack of musical analyzation. -- Jordan Kocuba, Orono, Maine

Point taken. I am, after all, a hack. In the piece I referred to the tune "The Natural Anthem." As Thom Yorke/ Bitter Loyalist Hacker noted, it is indeed "The National Anthem." Humiliated, ridiculed, and despondent, I will now slink off into the night. If only I had an appropriate soundtrack to such a soul-destroying experience.


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