I properly learned this song existed in July of 2021 but didn’t know who wrote it until tonight. I listened to Pablo Honey for the first time tonight and was pretty shocked to find out that Creep is a single on it. Let me try to explain. The first time I heard this song was actually in 2009. I was at an open mic in Galesburg, Illinois and some guy played a slow, droney acoustic cover of the song. But I didn’t realize it was a cover. I assumed he wrote it and was really embarrassed for him, singing the lines, “I wish I was special,” over and over. But then I noticed a woman sitting alone at a table mouthing the words, “I wish I was special,” along with the guy singing. I thought it was weird that some other random person in Galesburg knew the words to what I assumed was this guy’s song and was singing along. After the open mic ended I went out drinking with a girl I’d wanted to eat out since I was fifteen.
Let me talk about this girl for a second. Her name was Allison and she lived in the Quad Cities. We hungout for the first time in 2005. She was alternative and my friends and I were metal. We met on Myspace, I believe. I found her extremely attractive and one afternoon after jerking off I didn’t have the chance to take a shower after I came and later that evening I smelled my hand after dragging it through the skin around my testicles and felt intoxicated by the smell.
Something in my mind decided that’s what Allison’s pussy would taste like and I was obsessed. Eventually after meeting in 2005 Allison and I decided to hangout. We planned to each bring a friend and go for a walk by the Mississippi River. Shortly after the walk we ate some fast food and then dropped Allison and her friend back off in Rock Island. Immediately once we started driving back to Galesburg, my friend started talking shit about Allison, “She fucking smells like she turned her vagina inside out, she’s disgusting.”
I almost passed out when she got in my car because she smelled so good. It always puzzles me how anti-LGBTQ+ straight guys seem to really hate vaginas. By 2006 my friendships with my heavy metal friends were coming to an end. I had recently received a psychiatric diagnosis of bipolar disorder with psychotic features and began taking a strong anti-psychotic. And since my mental health only seemed to get worse it seemed like a bad idea to join my friends when they started doing drugs on the weekends. So instead I took the ACT test, barely passed it and got into college. These metal guys resented my apprehension for drugs and also resented my desire to go to college. They had also heard rumors I started sucking cock. And thus my friends became enemies.
However due to my unfortunate circle of friends I didn’t have much exposure to alternative music. I knew that Allison liked a lot of alternative bands so I started listening to everything she listed on her Myspace. I started off with Elliot Smith and in 2007 I was a little offended by how bad his music sounded. But in 2008 I needed to drop out of college and, for support, bought Nirvana’s Unplugged album, Bright Eyes’ I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning and Choke by Chuck Palahniuk. After dropping out I soon decided Elliot Smith was a genius. Moving away from heavy metal and towards alternative musics didn’t really help my dating life at all but it did do me a lot of favors creatively and internally.
But anyway. This is an essay about Creep and listening to it by choice for the first time. Let me get back to that by talking about the moment I learned Radiohead existed. It was probably March or April 2004. I was in a freshman government class in highschool and had just been sexually assaulted by several members of my junior highschool basketball team at a super bowl party. Several of the guys were in the government class with me. I was already suicidal and pretty much a mess and the assault did not help.
By the time we were in highschool I had a reputation. I had given up basketball in junior highschool and joined a boxing club instead. I wore worker jeans and Iron Maiden and King Diamond tshirts to class everyday. Everyone knew I was suicidal, a boxer and worshiped Satan.
Most people were afraid of me except for the guys I used to play basketball with that sexually assaulted me at a super bowl party. A lot of people in my life thought my problems were a result of the music I listened to. One guy in particular that used to be on my team felt this way. Maybe he felt bad about the assault? It’s hard to say. But regardless a few weeks after the super bowl party he made me a fucking mix CD of Radiohead and Coldplay and tried to tell me that this kind of music was much better for me than the heavy metal I was listening to at the time. And that was that. I swore to never listen to Radiohead or Coldplay for the duration of my miserable life.
But eventually in 2019 I bought Thom Yorke’s Suspiria soundtrack. He did a great job on it and absolutely blew me away. Listening to that score made me think that one of these days I’d actually have to give Radiohead a chance. Then in June of 2021 I was watching the television show, Cruel Summer. There is a scene where Creep is playing and I recognized the chorus from hearing that guy in the bar playing it back in 2009. I had no idea Creep was actually an upper-mid tempo rock song! Or that it wasn’t actually written by some dude from my hometown.
And even though I’d been meaning to listen to Radiohead ever since hearing Thom Yorke’s Suspiria score, sometimes it takes me awhile to get through my to-listen lists. For example I’ve been meaning to listen to Hammerfell since 2004 and just got around to it last week. So anyway. Tonight I chose the album Pablo Honey and was shocked to find out that Creep was a Radiohead single. And even more shocked to find out that it sounded really good.
Thursday Simpson is from Galesburg, Illinois. She is a writer, musician and cook. She has a BA in English literature from the University of Iowa. Her literary work is anthologized in Hexing the Patriarchy, Nasty! Volume 2 and Satan Speaks!. Her first full length album is titled, She Wore Black Leather, and is on major streaming platforms under her bandname, The Bluegrass Pornstars. Her full publication history can be found at www.thursdaysimpson.com and her twitter is @JeanBava