High and Dry

Two jumps in a week,
I bet you think that’s pretty clever don’t you boy?
Flying on your motorcycle,
watching all the ground beneath you drop
You’d kill yourself for recognition,
kill yourself to never, ever stop
You broke another mirror,
you’re turning into something you are not

Don’t leave me high, don’t leave me dry
Don’t leave me high, don’t leave me dry

Drying up in conversation,
you’ll be the one who cannot talk
All your insides fall to pieces,
you just sit there wishing you could still make love
They’re the ones who’ll hate you
when you think you’ve got the world all sussed out
They’re the ones who’ll spit on you,
you’ll be the one screaming out

Don’t leave me high, don’t leave me dry
Don’t leave me high, don’t leave me dry

Oh, it’s the best thing that you ever had,
the best thing that you ever, ever had.
It’s the best thing that you ever had,
the best thing you have had has gone away.

Don’t leave me high, don’t leave me dry
Don’t leave me high, don’t leave me dry
Don’t leave me high,
Don’t leave me high, don’t leave me dry

Song Information

Originally written two years before The Bends when they were recording Pablo Honey, the song started out life over a stolen Soul II Soul rhythm. They then decided to do a version of it. They had just had a new skin put on their bass drum, so Phil was messing about with it, and that is how the drum beat came up. Thom played the opening bit acoustic, for a laugh, and everyone thought it sounded like Rod Stewart. Bits got recorded and added, but it soon got discarded pretty quickly.

About at the time that they were recording The Bends, someone found it again, and they were surprised at how well it fitted in. They then put it on the album, not bothering to re-record it. The album version is the original demo version, just remixed. This song is one of the only occasions on which it was not all recorded together – as the band came in separately, and recorded their own sections before it was all put together.

It is widely regarded as perhaps Radiohead’s most accessible pop hit, and was a live favourite, though it hasn’t been performed in a decade. There was speculation this was mostly due to the demands of the vocal part on Thom Yorke’s voice. However, in a recent interview, Thom said he “had his arm twisted… to put [the song] anywhere” and described it in the following words: “It’s not bad, you know. It’s not bad… it’s very bad. [Laughs]”

Thom has frequently dedicated this song to the “older people, who don’t like loud music”.

The British version of the video is in black and white, directed by David Mould. It shows the band performing in a desert setting amidst trucks and filming equipment. By the end of the video, it rains on the band, but they continue playing. This was actually the first version of the video produced, but the band expressed dissatisfaction with it, leading to the other video. Only the US version appears on the band’s 1998 video compilation 7 Television Commercials, and both the UK and US versions appear on the Radiohead: The Best Of DVD released in 2008 by EMI.

Two music videos were created for “High and Dry”, one produced for the American market and another for Britain. The first version, directed by Paul Cunningham, stars the band in a diner (Dick’s Restaurant & Cocktails, in San Leandro, California), where other patrons are involved in dramas of their own, which are revealed through the use of flashbacks. A couple and the diner’s cook are involved in an unspecified crime. A businessman is hiding something in his briefcase. In the end, the two dramas are resolved when the guilty parties are betrayed, the cook gives the couple a time bomb and the businessman is ambushed and killed (though the murder is only suggested).

Released: March 1995
Found on: The Bends and High and Dry Single