There was a time when I was convinced that Radiohead was the greatest band on earth. Now I would review that considerably - they're good, but short of a truly inspired critique, I will simply state that I find them a bit depressing! However, I find very little to criticize about my favourite song of theirs - 'No Surprises' (OK Computer, 1997). It's a masterpiece.
Let me tell you why this song is so great! Firstly, it's got one of the most sublime guitar riffs in rock. Secondly, Thom Yorke's voice is so sullen and tired that it captures the mood magnificently. Thirdly and most importantly, it's a song to inspire a revolution. Some songs are written with uprising in mind and they put it all out there in clear and obvious ways - think the Clash's 'London Calling' or the Sex Pistols' 'Anarchy in the UK' for example. Having listened to and enjoyed those songs on many occasions I can safely say that by the time they reach their raucous final bars the anger and angst inside me has all but dried up. I have always preferred the subtle, however. 'No Suprises' contains three minutes and forty-eight seconds of such irony and monotony that by the end you're ready to get up and go and do something rebellious to prove Radiohead wrong - that you're ready for a life that breaks the mould and really will bring down the government.
And so perhaps I'm back to Alinsky again. Recently, I've become convinced that those who seek to follow Jesus can never be satisfied with just doing good things and at the same time maintaining the status quo. That in it's own way is like embracing a world of 'no suprises'. That's a case of cheap grace. Costly grace involves a deeper work where risk and revolution have their place - where the injustices of our communities and neighbourhoods are challenged to their core. Listen to 'No Suprises' and you'll hear what I mean but don't blame me when it stirs you up.