My Iron Lung

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My Iron Lung
My Iron Lung.jpg
EP by
Released26 September 1994
GenreAlternative rock[1]
Radiohead chronology
My Iron Lung
The Bends
Radiohead singles chronology
"Stop Whispering"
"My Iron Lung"
"High and Dry" / "Planet Telex"

My Iron Lung is the third EP by the English alternative rock band Radiohead, released on 26 September 1994 by Parlophone Records in the United Kingdom and by Capitol Records in the United States. The title track later appeared on the band's second studio album The Bends (1995). The EP also contains outtakes from then-ongoing recording sessions for The Bends, compiling songs that were issued as B-sides on two separate "My Iron Lung" CD singles in the UK and other markets.

My Iron Lung was originally released as an EP with all eight songs only in Australia, but it is currently in print worldwide. It is seen[2] as a bridge between the relative simplicity of their debut studio album Pablo Honey (1993) and the greater sonic depth of Radiohead's later work beginning with The Bends. The title track charted at number 24 in the UK, but received little radio attention in the United States.


Radiohead recorded versions of "My Iron Lung" at RAK Studios, but were not satisfied with the results. Instead, they used a performance recorded in May 1994 at the London Astoria, with Yorke's vocals replaced and the audience removed.[3] According to producer John Leckie, "Considering it was recorded in the back of a truck outside the hall - not the best sound to get something from - we did quite well."[3]

"My Iron Lung" was Radiohead's reaction to "Creep" (1993), their successful debut single.[4] The caustic, self-reflexive lyrics use the iron lung as a metaphor for the way "Creep" had both sustained the band's life and constrained them ("this is our new song / just like the last one / a total waste of time / my iron lung").[5] An acoustic version of "Creep" appears at the end of the EP.

Other songs on the EP charted a course away from the emotional grunge-pop of Pablo Honey, toward more layered sounds and more inventive guitar parts from Jonny Greenwood, especially evidenced in the ethereal "Punchdrunk Lovesick Singalong" and the Sonic Youth homage "Permanent Daylight", whose vocals ("the easiest way to sell your soul is to carry on believing that you don't exist / it must be hard with your head on backwards") hide in a wall of noise. "The Trickster", like the title track, approaches heavy metal. "Lewis" is musically a punky sequel to Pablo Honey's "How Do You?" but the lyrics may point to "Just" from The Bends, both serving as a warning to seemingly oblivious friends on the verge of breakdown.[citation needed] The acoustic "Lozenge of Love" uses unusual tonality and is titled after a line from Philip Larkin's poem "Sad Steps",[citation needed] while "You Never Wash Up After Yourself" is a quiet, desolate song for guitar and voice.

In Britain and most of the world, this EP was initially available instead as two singles: the first, with a blue-tinted cover, featured the title track backed by "The Trickster", "Punchdrunk Lovesick Singalong", and "Lozenge of Love";[6] the second, with a red-tinted cover, had "Lewis (Mistreated)", "Permanent Daylight", and "You Never Wash Up After Yourself"[7] as B-sides. "Creep (Acoustic)" (which had also closed the earlier Japanese Itch EP) only appears on the EP release.

Nigel Godrich first worked with Radiohead on this recording, going on to engineer The Bends and to produce their later work.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic4/5 stars[8]
Entertainment.ie4/5 stars[2]

Allmusic critic Greg Prato described the tracks as "great outtakes from the sessions for their classic 1995 full-length release The Bends" and stated: "Because of the tracks' consistency and sequencing, it plays like a real album rather than a collection of B-sides and outtakes thrown together haphazardly."[8] wrote: "While these off-cuts are inevitably more low-key and experimental than the classics we're all familiar with, the same spirit of anguish [of The Bends] and fragility is still thrillingly familiar."[2]

In popular culture[edit]

"My Iron Lung", along with an acoustic version of "Fake Plastic Trees", is featured in the 1995 film Clueless.[9] It is featured as a downloadable song for Rock Band.[10]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Radiohead.

1."My Iron Lung"4:36
2."The Trickster"4:40
3."Lewis (Mistreated)"3:14
4."Punchdrunk Lovesick Singalong"4:40
5."Permanent Daylight"2:48
6."Lozenge of Love"2:16
7."You Never Wash Up After Yourself"1:44
8."Creep" (Acoustic)4:19
Total length:28:23



  • "Permanent Daylight" produced by Nigel Godrich and Radiohead
  • "You Never Wash Up After Yourself" recorded live in a fruit farm by Jim Warren
  • "Creep" (Acoustic) recorded live on the air at KROQ Los Angeles, July 13th 1993


  1. ^ Hall, David Brendan (10 October 2016). "Austin City Limits: The five best of Weekend Two". Time Out. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "Radiohead – My Iron Lung".
  3. ^ a b Randall, Mac (1 February 2012). Exit Music: The Radiohead Story Updated Edition. Backbeat Books. ISBN 978-1-4584-7147-5.
  4. ^ "Radiohead's The Bends At 20: The Story Of An Anti-Capitalist, Anti-Cynicism Classic – NME". NME. 12 March 2015. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  5. ^ Runtagh, Jordan; Runtagh, Jordan (22 February 2018). "Radiohead's 'Pablo Honey': 10 Things You Didn't Know". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  6. ^ "Radiohead – My Iron Lung E.P." Discogs.
  7. ^ "Radiohead – My Iron Lung". Discogs.
  8. ^ a b My Iron Lung at AllMusic
  9. ^ James, Becca. "Cinema Sounds: Clueless". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 23 September 2016.
  10. ^ "New Rock Band DLC: Weezer, Radiohead, The Pretenders". WIRED. Retrieved 9 May 2018.

External links[edit]