Let me get some things out of the way. I love Radiohead, but don’t consider myself an expert. Also, I know “I Promise” is actually 20 years old and is only coming out now. But as someone who is both politically aware and a huge Radiohead fan, something about the song has struck a nerve.
The slow, melodic song’s lyrics about promising not to run away anymore seems fitting for this era of Trumplandia where we’ve all been running away for too long. Trumplandia has only just begun and maybe we all need to promise to stop running from the things we’re scare of and start to address them.
The fact that Thom Yorke promises not to run away “even when I get bored,” could be interpreted as telling us that we need to stay engaged and energized even when Donald Trump isn’t doing something to piss us off. Though this is rare, it does happen.
I see this track as something of a placeholder for when Radiohead goes back into the studio and blows us away with a Hail To The Thief type political album, only one for the broader Trumplandia era. But “I Promise” really is potent in helping me understand Trumplandia and my place in it.
Even the video, with its android head contemplating reality, is, in its own way, a commentary on Trumplandia. The android’s expression is one many of us can relate to these days in what seems a daily attack on our common sense by the surreal forces of Trumplandia. Trumplandia is so surreal just in general that the video is also really meaningful.
The track is, for people like me, sonic and emotional comfort food during this trying time. The mood it sets is perfect for how I feel right now. It is something to listen to as we wait, hopefully, for the pop-rock industry to get its act together and start to churn out popular protest songs.