The 1992 song “Creep,” Radiohead’s anthem of self loathing and unrequited love, was originally recorded in one take.
The song had been written several years earlier by singer Thom Yorke, when he was still a student at Exeter University. “When I wrote it,” Yorke said in an early interview, “I was in the middle of a really, really serious obsession. It lasted about eight months. And it was unsuccessful, which made it even worse. She knows who she is.”
The emotions were apparently still running deep when Yorke and his bandmates went into Chipping Norton Studios in their hometown of Oxford to record their debut album, Pablo Honey. The raw, cathartic quality of “Creep” caused an immediate stir, said producer Paul Kolderie. “Everyone in the studio applauded when it was done.”
The original take was largely retained, except for a few touch-ups. Yorke went back into the studio and recorded a rewritten first verse. He also agreed to change the sarcastic phrase “You’re so fucking special” to “You’re so very special” to make the song suitable for American radio. You can hear Yorke’s vocals from the sanitized version in the isolated track above. For the full arrangement, see the official video below.