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Other segments from the episode on October 12, 2007

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, October 12, 2007: Interview with Al Gore; Review of Richard Russo's novel "Bridge of Sighs"; Interview with Thom Yorke; Review of the film "We Own the Night."

Transcript

DATE October 12, 2007 ACCOUNT NUMBER N/A
TIME 12:00 Noon-1:00 PM AUDIENCE N/A
NETWORK NPR
PROGRAM Fresh Air

Interview: Former Vice President Al Gore discusses his book and
film "An Inconvenient Truth," global warming and politics
DAVID BIANCULLI, host:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, TV critic for the New York Daily
News, sitting in for Terry Gross.

Former Vice President Al Gore won an Oscar for his 2006 documentary about
global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth." Today Al Gore picked up another
award: the 2007 Nobel Peace Price. He shares the award with the United
Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which, like Gore, was
honored for drawing attention to global warming. The award cites the
connection between peace, political stability and global warming, stating,
quote, "Extensive climate changes may alter and threaten the living conditions
of mankind. There may be increased danger of violent conflicts and wars. The
Nobel Committee is seeking to contribute to a sharper focus on the world's
future climate and, thereby, to reduce the threat to the security of mankind.
Action is necessary now," unquote.

Within hours after Gore won the peace prize, supporters of the Draft Gore
movement were quoted saying this might spur Gore into making a late entry in
the Democratic race for 2008. Political analysts, though, say that's
unlikely, given the logistics and fund-raising needs, and Gore's camp just as
quickly refuted it.

Terry Gross spoke to Al Gore last year when his book and movie about global
warming, "An Inconvenient Truth," had just been released.

TERRY GROSS, host:

Al Gore, welcome back to FRESH AIR. You know, at the beginning of the movie
you say that you've been trying to tell this story about global warming for a
long time and that you feel as if you've failed to get the message across.
Why was it so difficult as a politician to get the message across?

Former Vice President AL GORE: Well, Terry, I think there are several
reasons. First, it's a complex issue. When you boil it all down, it's fairly
simple, but it does have a lot of moving parts. And the complexity by itself
is an obstacle. Secondly, there's a natural tendency to avoid thinking about
subjects that might involve some psychic pain, and the idea that human
civilization is colliding with the earth's environment is a painful reality.
And third, it's a new reality. Nothing in our history or culture prepares us
for the new reality, the new relationship between human civilization and the
planet's ecosystem.

We've quadrupled our population globally in the last hundred years, and we've
magnified the power of our technologies thousands of times over. And when you
combine those two elements, 6.5 billion people times incredibly powerful ways
of exploiting nature, and then you mix in a new philosophy of discounting the
future consequences of present actions, it produces this new collision, the
most dangerous part of which is global warming. And so it's hard to absorb
it, but I think it is now beginning to sink in. I think people are coming to
grips with it, and I'm actually becoming optimistic that we're going to
respond in time.

GROSS: Over the years, when you were in politics, you were sometimes mocked
for your environmental positions. George H.W. Bush called you "ozone man"
and said if the Clinton/Gore ticket won, we'll be up to our neck in owls and
out of work. Are there other ways that you think the issue was spun over the
years to make environmentalists and people who are interested in reversing the
effects of global warming seem like kooks?

Mr. GORE: Sure, and that's another reason that it has been difficult to
communicate the truth--the inconvenient truth, if you will--about this
planetary emergency. And that is that some interests--political, business,
and ideological--that strongly resist the truth here have used every means at
their disposal to confuse people, to put out misinformation. Much in the way
the tobacco industry tried to confuse people about the scientific linkage
after the surgeon general's report in 1964 showing that smoking cigarettes
causes lung disease. They were able to confuse people about the validity of
that science and continue the pattern of abuse for almost four decades. And
basically the same thing has been going on now, and the disinformation, the
ridicule, the intentional confusion--all that's part of a political strategy.

GROSS: Let me mention a study that you cite in your documentary and your
book, "An Inconvenient Truth," and this is a study from the University of
California at San Diego. A scientist there named Dr. Naomi Oreskes published
in Science magazine a study of every peer-reviewed journal article on global
warming from the previous 10 years, and then in her random sample of 928
articles, she found that no articles disagreed with the scientific consensus
on global warming. Then another study of articles on global warming that were
published in the previous 14 years in the press, specifically published in The
New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times and Wall Street Journal found that
more than half of those stories gave equal weight to the scientific consensus
and to the view that human beings played no role in global warming.

Mr. GORE: Hm.

GROSS: So just to sum up the scientific journals, the scientists agreed about
global warming, but in these four, you know, major American newspapers, equal
weight was given in half the articles to the opposing view that human beings
are not causing global warming. So what does that say to you? How do you
interpret that?

Mr. GORE: Well, it's astonishing. It illustrates the vulnerability of our
marketplace of ideas--our public conversation, if you will--to manipulation by
the kinds of techniques that were innovated early in the 20th century and were
labeled propaganda. They're more sophisticated now, they're part of corporate
PR strategies, they have been refined. And the nature of the news media has
also changed, not in all media but in a lot. And, as a result, I think we're
vulnerable to this kind of manipulation.

I think we've seen it in other areas as well. Before the vote on the Iraq
war, 77 percent of the American people genuinely believed that it was Saddam
Hussein who was responsible for hijacking the planes and flying them into the
World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania, and there have been
times in our past when we've been vulnerable to being misled over an extended
period, but not like now. And when there's a very well-funded, determined,
unethical corporate campaign of disinformation, it can have a much larger
impact on the impressions put into the minds of the American people than is
healthy in a democracy.

GROSS: When you were running for the presidency in 2000, did your advisers
warn you against talking about global warming in your campaign?

Mr. GORE: Well, you know, some have written that that took place. My view
of that is slightly different. It wasn't a warning. It was their feeling
that every single news cycle every day should be focused on whatever issue
would get the most traction, if you will, the most response and move the
needle in the horse race of the election. And in spite of that, I insisted on
continuing to address this issue, but I have to say that, in one respect, they
were tactically correct. Because often when I would discuss the issue, the
formal presentation would be completely ignored in favor of some response
during the Q&A afterwards on whatever the horse race issue of the day was.
And over time that inevitably led to them saying, `Well, look, you know, we
tried this, we tried that, and that's ignored.'

And remember, this was at a time when, A, more than half of all the news
articles were saying this issue may not even be real, and, B, my opponent,
then-Governor Bush had publicly pledged to regulate CO2--a pledge that was
broken immediately after the inauguration--but the perception during the
contest itself was that there wasn't that much contrast. Here was a so-called
compassionate conservative who said he cared a lot about global warming and
had pledged to legally force the reductions of greenhouse gases, and therefore
why would that be a fit issue for covering the campaign conflict? So to that
extent, it was difficult to have a full-blown contrast presented in the press.

GROSS: I guess I'm wondering if you've lost faith in the political system
when it comes to global warming, if you think that there are certain issues
like global warming that just have no sticking power in the political world
until years and years and years later. Because you were talking earlier about
how it was a very difficult issue to communicate during the 2000 election.
Now you're going back to the very beginning of your political career and
talking about how difficult it was to communicate that issue then even when
you had, you know, a leading scientific expert talking about it. So is
politics a bad arena to talk about an issue like this?

Mr. GORE: Hm. It's a tough arena. I haven't lost faith, though, because I
believe, and from my experience I feel as if I know, that the political system
shares one thing in common with the climate system. It's nonlinear. It can
appear to move at a glacier's pace, and then after crossing a tipping point it
can suddenly move rapidly into a completely new pattern. I've seen that
happen, and when enough people absorb this message and understand it and feel
the sense of urgency that it demands, they will in turn demand that
politicians in both parties react accordingly. And I think that there will
come a time when our political system does cross a tipping point and, in that
sense, I still have faith that we will respond. It's just taken 30 years
longer than I thought it would.

GROSS: In your political career, you were criticized often for, you know,
rightly or wrongly for being stiff, for not being as communicative and as
lively as you might have been. Your reviews for this movie, the ones I've
seen, largely have been very positive both in terms of the larger issues that
you talk about but also in terms of your presentation. You've been praised
for being lively and funny and engaging, you know, a different evaluation of
you than you typically got, for instance, in your 2000 campaign. So what do
you think has changed?

Mr. GORE: Well, I benefit from low expectations. But I think that there are
two reasons for the comments that you're referring to. Number one, I think
that, in a political campaign, particularly a campaign for president, the way
a candidate's perceived is shaped by the constant attacks by the opposing
side, shaped by the healthy skepticism that viewers and listeners bring to
anything that somebody asking for votes is saying and shaped also by the
necessities of the campaign, which really don't allow you to speak about only
one issue but require you to speak, necessarily speak, about the full range of
concerns that the American voters have the right to hear your views on. And
when you move from one to the other, that's a different kind of presentation.

But I think there's a second reason for the comments you mentioned, and that
is I have been through a lot in the last six years. And the old cliche that
what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, actually, I think is sometimes true.
And all of us learn and grow and evolve in our lives and, you know, your
interviews are--I'm sure you've got a lot of listeners who contrast the
interviews you do now with ones you did when you first started, and find new
texture and depth. And, you know, that's part of just living our lives.

GROSS: You've traveled around different parts of the world looking at the
symptoms of global warming. What's the most disturbing thing that you've seen
in those travels?

Mr. GORE: The melting of the North Pole is one of the most urgent
catastrophes that should be prevented as quickly as we can convince people to
act. It's a fairly thin floating ice cap and, as you know, the Arctic and the
Antarctic are very different. The Arctic is ocean surrounded by land while
the Antarctic is land surrounded by ocean, and that makes all the difference
in the thickness of the ice. It's 10,000 feet thick in the Antarctic and less
than 10 feet thick in the Arctic. Much less now. We've lost 40 percent of it
in the last 40 years. And when the ice there melts, there's a dramatic change
in the relationship of the surface of the earth there to the sun. The ice
reflects 90 percent of the incoming sun's energy like a mirror. But the open
seawater, after it melts, absorbs 90 percent. And that's a phase change. It
sets up a positive feedback loop that magnifies and speeds up the melting
process.

And the North Polar ice cap is in grave danger now. And nearby, the great ice
mound of Greenland is under increasing pressure from growing temperatures
also. If that were to melt, it would--or to break up and slip into the sea,
it would raise sea level 20 feet worldwide. The west Antarctic ice shelf on
the other end of the planet, at the other pole, is the part of Antarctica
propped up against islands that allow it to be affected by the warming ocean
but also allow it to raise sea level by 20 feet again, if it melts or breaks
up and slides into the ocean.

And these are the three areas that many scientists point to as effecting a
so-called point of no return which we need to avoid because if we cross that
point of no return, then the process of a downward spiral would be
irretrievable. So we have to stop short of that.

BIANCULLI: Al Gore, speaking to Terry Gross last year. More after a break.
This is FRESH AIR.

(Announcements)

BIANCULLI: Let's get back to Terry's 2006 interview with Al Gore. Today he
was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to draw attention to global
warming. That was the subject of his 2006 film "An Inconvenient Truth," which
won the Oscar as Best Documentary Feature.

GROSS: You were recently on "Saturday Night Live." I'm sure a lot of our
listeners saw this. And you were on as the president in a parallel universe,
in a parallel universe where you were actually the 43rd president and you were
delivering a speech from the Oval Office about how we've reversed global
warming, how we're dealing with our huge budget surplus, and how much the rest
of the world loves America. In fact, let me just play a little clip from
"Saturday Night Live." This is Al Gore.

(Soundbite of "Saturday Night Live")

Mr. GORE: In the last six years, we have been able to stop global warming.
No one could have predicted the negative results of this. Glaciers that once
were melting are now on the attack. As you know, these renegade glaciers have
already captured parts of upper Michigan and northern Maine, but I assure you,
we will not let the glaciers win.

Right now in the second week of May 2006, we are facing perhaps the worst gas
crisis in history. We have way too much gasoline. Gas is down to 19 cents a
gallon, and the oil companies are hurting. I know that I am partly to blame
by insisting that cars run on trash. I am, therefore, proposing a federal
bailout to our oil companies because, hey, if it were the other way around,
you know the oil companies would help us.

(End of soundbite)

GROSS: Al Gore, do you sometimes play the `what if' game, and do you
sometimes play the game of how the world might have been different if you had
become president in 2000?

Mr. GORE: Only in an alternate universe. I don't...

GROSS: Yeah, but seriously, do you think about that a lot? Do you play that
game?

Mr. GORE: No. No, I don't. And if you were in my situation, I doubt you
would either. It's just a lot healthier to look forward and try to focus on
the positive things that lie ahead. And, you know, it was a difficult
experience, but not so much for me as it was for the millions of people who
were negatively affected by the policies that have been put in place because
of that election. But I made a choice to uphold the rule of law. After the
Supreme Court decision, in our system there's no intermediate step between the
final Supreme Court decision and violent revolution.

And so I made a decision to support the rule of law and then to go on with my
life and try to find ways to live a positive and useful life, and I'm pleased
to have been able to find ways to serve in other ways. And I'm enjoying them.
I've started a couple of businesses that are quite fulfilling for me, teaching
some. Most of my time is spent delivering my slide show and speaking on the
climate crisis, and it's an increasing part of my time.

GROSS: Al Gore, thank you very much for talking with us.

Mr. GORE: Thank you, Terry.

BIANCULLI: Al Gore speaking to Terry Gross last year. Earlier today he was
awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. I'm David Bianculli, and this is FRESH
AIR.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Review: Maureen Corrigan on Richard Russo's new novel, "Bridge
of Sighs"
DAVID BIANCULLI, host:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli in for Terry Gross.

Richard Russo's new novel, "Bridge of Sighs," is a departure from his other
novels, such as "Empire Falls" and "Nobody's Fool," in that part of the story
takes place abroad. But, our book critic Maureen Corrigan says happily, it's
not long before the story returns to Russo's familiar terrain of upstate New
York.

MAUREEN CORRIGAN reporting:

The dullest story ever told. That's what the main character in Richard
Russo's new novel "Bridge of Sighs" ruefully calls the memoir of his life and
times that he's begun writing. Louis Lynch, or Lucy, as he's been
unfortunately nicknamed since childhood, has lived in the same small town,
Thomaston, in upstate New York for all of his 60 years. He's been married to
the same woman for more than half his life, and he works at the same corner
grocery store that his parents bought with their life savings in the 1950s.
If you're not a little bored yet, you haven't been listening.

But while the plot synopsis of "Bridge of Sighs" is as mild as milk, the
experience of reading the novel is intoxicating. Almost any competent writer
can write a reasonably entertaining story about extreme situations and
adventures. But try writing a truly great novel about ordinary people
grappling with--and sometimes evading--everyday emotions and ethical
decisions. Only a very select group of writers, Russo among them, can pull
off that kind of story without tricking it out in excess sentimentality and
moralizing.

In "Bridge of Sighs," as he's done in earlier novels like "Empire Falls" and
"Nobody's Fool," Russo lays bare the miraculousness of the mundane. Lucy
Lynch may have lived a simple life so far, but he's no simpleton. Now 60,
he's more thoughtful than ever and, as he says of another character, prone to
living more meaningfully in memory's twilight than reality's noonday sun.

The past Lucy is drawn to, not surprisingly, is the period of his youth in
Thomaston. A shy only child, Lucy has only one friend off and on growing up,
a boy named Bobby Marconi, whose father is the kind of guy who gave patriarchy
a bad name. Russo's story roves around in time as well as narrative
perspective so we readers know that Bobby these days is a famous painter
living in Venice, but back then he was a hoodlum with a touch of redeeming
conscience. Bobby would always shield Lucy from the other grammar school
toughs, until the afternoon he grows weary of Lucy's puppy-like adoration and
stands by while a gang of bullies puts Lucy into a trunk under a railway
trestle.

Locked up in that dark trunk for hours, Lucy has the first of his spells,
lapses in consciousness that have plagued him for decades. There are other
ills in the world that Russo creates in Thomaston--violent racism, water
pollution from the town tannery that causes cancer rates to soar--but the
trunk under the railway trestle is the novel's emblematic imagine of random
evil.

Countering that nightmare is the golden image of a small, good place, the
corner store that Lucy's family runs. The kind of store where folks from the
neighborhood could run a tub and meat was wrapped in butcher paper, not
cellophane, and tied off with string. Presiding behind the counter is one of
the great creations in contemporary literature, Lucy's father, nicknamed Lulu.
Lulu, as another character says, is nice all the way down, unlike most nice
people who are nice just part way. Like other monumentally decent and
ordinary characters in literature--Willy Loman, Joe in Dickens' "Great
Expectations"--Lulu would be easy to ruin by a coating of schmaltz. But
Russo's genius lies in the fact that, while he celebrates Lulu's
straightforward benevolence, he also makes us readers feel guiltily impatient
with the limitations of his company. Here's how the adult Lucy eloquently
sums up his father's mixed legacy.

"For my father," Lucy says, "the world wasn't a complicated place. Its rules
mostly made sense and they were for our own good. I've always wanted to be
the person he believed me to be, which at times has kept me from being a
better one. A terribly realization, this."

"Bridge of Sighs" is packed with quietly revelatory passages like that one as
well as intricate characters, plot twists aplenty and a haunting sense of
place. It's a big, fat package of old fashioned realistic fiction wrapped in
butcher paper, not cellophane, and tied off with string. And for my money,
pound for pound, there isn't a better buy to be had in new fiction these days.

BIANCULLI: Maureen Corrigan teaches literature at Georgetown University. She
reviewed "Bridge of Sighs" by Richard Russo.

Coming up, an interview with Radiohead lead singer, Thom Yorke.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Interview: Thom Yorke of Radiohead discusses his career and
music
(Soundbite of music)

DAVID BIANCULLI:

The British rock group Radiohead has released its seventh album, titled "In
Rainbows," in an unusual fashion. Instead of releasing it initially as a CD,
Radiohead is offering "In Rainbows" as a download on its official Web site.
Fans are asked to pay as little or as much as they want to support what they
want to hear. In a way, it's the rock music equivalent of public broadcasting
pledge campaigns. Reportedly, more than a million fans downloaded "In
Rainbows" the first day, voluntarily paying an average of about $8. Already
there has been a small backlash, both about the sound quality of the downloads
and the suggestion that the whole thing may have been a publicity gimmick for
the eventual release of a standard CD. But the band still gets credit for
trying and for making some of the best-reviewed music of its era. Here's a
sample from the new album, a song called "Jigsaw Falling into Place."

(Soundbite of "Jigsaw Falling into Place")

Mr. THOM YORKE: (Singing) Just as you take my hand
Just as you you write my number down
Just as the drinks arrive
Just as they play your favorite song
As your blather disappears
No longer wound up like a spring
Before you've had too much
Come back and focus again

The walls abandon shape
You've got a Cheshire cat grin
All blurring into one
This place is on a mission
Before the night owl
Before the animal noises
Closed circuit cameras
Before you're comatose

(End of soundbite)

BIANCULLI: That's Radiohead from the new album "In Rainbows." It's 1997 album
"OK Computer" was named the top album of the past 20 years by Spin magazine.
Terry spoke with Radiohead's lead singer, Thom Yorke, last year and asked what
made "OK Computer" different from the band's earlier albums "Pablo Honey" and
"The Bends."

Mr. YORKE: When we did "The Bends," we were still figuring out, I think, the
basics even of how to make records. And in the process of doing that we met
Nigel, who was the engineer on it, who then went and did "OK Computer" with us
and has stayed with us. And then when we did "OK Computer," I think the
difference was that it was like the kids being let loose in the lab, you know.
That's how it felt. I mean...

TERRY GROSS, host:

What were you trying that you hadn't tried before?

Mr. YORKE: Well, we bought all our own equipment from some of the proceeds
from "The Bends." And it was all transportable, and so it, you know, the
equipment and the concept of recording became part of the creative process
rather than something that was happening in another room over there and we
were just told to do it again. So we were trying everything we could think of
really within limits. I guess since then that's got a little bit out of hand.

GROSS: So were your musical tastes changing at about this time?

Mr. YORKE: Well, I mean, they, you know, they're always changing, and we're
always listening to different things. I mean, you know, one of the most
important things about being in a band, other than just playing together,
obviously, is actually what music you're sharing, what music you're choosing
to play to each other. And around that time there was a serious Ennio
Morricone obsession going on in the band, which really obviously fed, of
course, into the way we were recording.

GROSS: And yet there's no whistler?

Mr. YORKE: No, but there's a lot of pathetic attempts to sort of do similar
sort of things. You know, we bought an old Mellotrone and, you know, we're
using lots of those sort of soft distortion like old--you know, deliberately
trying to sort of emulate old recordings, which Nigel is especially good at.

GROSS: Mm-hm.

Mr. YORKE: Old recording techniques and stuff, you know.

GROSS: Well, the track I thought we'd play from "OK Computer" is "No
Surprises."

Mr. YORKE: Oh, yeah?

GROSS: Do you want to say anything about writing this?

Mr. YORKE: Well, that's one of the songs that we refer to a lot because,
just in terms of when we're in the midst of a song and we don't know whether
we're just completely wasting our time. And "No Surprises" was like that all
the way through. It was just, `I don't know, I don't know about this.' And
then, it's amazing how, as soon as you just got a little bit of distance from
it, as we were finishing the record and placing it in the record, at how
powerful it was really considering how difficult it was to make.

GROSS: On "No Surprises"...

Mr. YORKE: Mm.

GROSS: ...was there anything that--any moment where you realized, `OK, this
is actually a good track, this works'?

Mr. YORKE: It was, as often happens, it was actually sort of finally getting
a vocal that made sense, because it was so slow and we had to do sort of--we
ended up, we physically couldn't play it that slow. So it's--we used the old
Beatles technique of record it at the natural speed you want to play it and
slow it down, and get this sort of strung-out effect. And then singing to
that was a just a really quite a weird experience.

GROSS: All right. Well, let's hear the results. This is "No Surprises" from
"OK Computer."

(Soundbite of "No Surprises")

Mr. YORKE: (singing) You were so tired, happy
Bring down the government
They don't, they don't speak for her
I'll take a quiet life, a handshake of carbon monoxide

No alarms and no surprises, no alarms and no surprises
No alarms and no surprises
Silent, silent

(End of Soundbite)

GROSS: That's "No Surprises" from the Radiohead album "OK Computer," and my
guest is Thom Yorke.

Mr. YORKE: Hi.

GROSS: I'm wondering if--I've read this and I know it's no secret that you've
had...

Mr. YORKE: I have no secrets.

GROSS: ...an issue with depression...

Mr. YORKE: Oh, right.

GROSS: ...over the years.

Mr. YORKE: Oh, that secret.

GROSS: That secret, yes. So how do you think that's affected you as a
songwriter, a singer? Just in terms of like, you know, your subject matter or
your tempos or, you know...

Mr. YORKE: Yeah.

GROSS: ...the kind of mood you're going for?

Mr. YORKE: Mm-hmm. I think it's both destructive and highly creative. And
in some ways it's a blessing, because when you're in the midst of it, you hear
things and see things in a different way. I mean, actually, some people do
literally see things in a different way. Some people, things actually do
actually get darker and sounds actually change and blah-blah-blah. And I find
that it's, in a way, it's, you know, my brain is set to receive other things.
And, you know, the trouble with it is, really, that it's debilitating as well
because you haven't any--you have a problem--you don't have energy. You don't
have--in order to do--especially in a band, actually, but just generally to be
creative, you need to have a lot of energy. You can't just, you know. And so
you can be extremely negative unnecessarily.

But it's really not a big deal, but at the same--I mean, I choose to talk
about it publicly because I've always had a problem with the fact that people
call our music depressing. Because it's like, `What, you don't get depressed?
What, your whole life is roses, is it?' You know, that, to me, is like, `You
are in denial and you are the one with the problem.' I mean, I, yeah, I want
to go out, I listen to disco music, I go, you know, I do this stuff, but it
just so happens I'm built to do this. This is what I do. I mean, that's
fine. But, you know--and I think that's why I, you know, that was why I chose
to make a thing out of it, because it was just really annoying me.

GROSS: I know that after or during the "OK Computer" tour, which ended up
being like a really long tour, and it sounds like there were times onstage
during that tour when you...

Mr. YORKE: Yeah.

GROSS: ...were kind of unraveling.

Mr. YORKE: Yeah, that was weird. I mean, I don't know quite why. I think
that a lot of the shows were very big and it was not interesting. Mostly it
was just not interesting. It just got boring. Which sounds incredibly
selfish but why would you just carry on just playing these tunes? I mean, you
know, the trouble with it was that, by the time we'd done that record, we were
so sick of those tunes. And then you're faced with the prospect of like
having to play them for another year and a half which, you know, you've got to
do because you've got to let people know what it's about. And one of the
things that we're good at is playing the tunes and blah-blah-blah. But, you
know, there just sort of comes a point where it's like this is--you're going
through the motions. And as soon as you realize, `I am going through the
motions, this is sounding tired,' that's it, you know? There is kind of no
point. This is--it's rock 'n' roll. There's no point in you being there.
It's like, it ceases to be rock 'n' roll and just becomes some sort of dodgy
circus.

GROSS: I want to play another track, and this is from your album "Kid A."

Mr. YORKE: Rah.

GROSS: And I thought we could play "Idioteque."

Mr. YORKE: Hurrah. I like that one.

GROSS: And you got a real like electronic thing going on here. When did you
start getting interested in electronic instruments? And I've been really
wondering if you went back and listened to a lot of, like, the early
electronic avant garde music of, say, the '60s?

Mr. YORKE: I did actually, yeah. When did I do that? I mean, I didn't
really know much about it until--I guess I started really collecting it up
during "The Bends" and "OK Computer." I mean, my--the things I was really,
really into at college was electronic music. I was massively into it.

GROSS: Like what kind? Were you...

Mr. YORKE: Well, the Detroit techno stuff that was coming out, and I was
getting--criminy, I don't know what it was half of it, you know. And there's
all these--there was all this British answer to it, with the Warp label and
Sheffield. And they were coming out with just amazing stuff, I mean, the
reason it was amazing was because I was deejaying every Friday at college.
And the stuff that sounded the most exciting coming out of the speakers was
not the rock music. It was this minimal techno. It was just--it just sounded
fantastic coming out of your Technics 1200s that the needle is a bit damaged
and the speakers are kind of blowing up, and you've had a little bit too much
to drink and some twit is asking for The Pogues again. So you just whack on
like some Warp record really loud and just clear the dance floor. But you are
having the best time and that's--that was my sort of formative thing, the
electronic. It wasn't actually sort of Kraftwerk. And I knew that was the
reference point. And I had Autobahn but I didn't know, you know, the real
history behind Kraftwerk at all, you know? I came to it all backwards, as one
does.

And then I got really heavily back into it after "OK Computer," because I'd
absolutely had enough of rock music--predictably enough, you know. I
didn't--I hadn't had enough of being in the band, but I'd had enough of those
sounds. I mean, like, "OK Computer" was a very consciously acoustic record,
using acoustic spaces very, very deliberately, hardly using any fake reverbs,
using real reverbs and real groove sounds, putting mikes in the wrong ends of
the room and all this sort of stuff.

And what was so exciting about electronic music is it's like literally there's
no distance between the music and the speaker. It's just straight out the
speaker. There's no nothing else there at all.

GROSS: What about with "Idioteque"? Did you intend for that to be
electronic?

Mr. YORKE: "Idioteque" wasn't, I mean, this is the good thing about being in
a band. "Idioteque" wasn't my idea at all. It was Jonny's. Jonny handed me
this DAT that he'd gone into our studio one afternoon. And the DAT was like
50 minutes long. And I sat there and listened to this 50 minutes, and some of
it was just, `What?' But then there was this section about 40 seconds long in
the middle of it that was absolute genius, and I just cut that out and that
was it.

To me, that's my most exciting time, is when someone just hands me something
and goes, `Listen to this.` And it has nothing to do with me, and I just
respond to it immediately like that. I don't have to pick up a guitar. I
don't have to do this and this and this. It's just there.

GROSS: Well, Thom Yorke, thank you so much for talking with us.

Mr. YORKE: Thanks, Terry. It was cool.

(Soundbite of "Idioteque")

Mr. YORKE: (singing) Who's in a bunker?
Who's in a bunker?
Women and children first
And the children first
And the children
I laugh until my head comes off
I'll swallow till I burst
Until I burst
Until I

Who's in a bunker?
Who's in a bunker?
I have seen too much
You haven't seen enough
You haven't seen it
I'll laugh until my head comes off
Women and children first
And children first
And children

Here I'm allowed
Everything all of the time
Here I'm allowed
Everything all of the time

Ice age coming

(End of soundbite)

BIANCULLI: That's "Idioteque" from Radiohead's 1997 album "OK Computer." The
band's latest album, "In Rainbows," is available as a download on the group's
Web site, at whatever price you're willing to pay.

Coming up, David Edelstein reviews the new Mark Wahlberg film, "We Own the
Night." This is FRESH AIR.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Review: David Edelstein on the new film, "We Own the Night"
DAVID BIANCULLI, host:

In the crime drama "We Own the Night," the writer and director James Gray
continues to explore the world of New York Russian mobsters who were the focus
of his first film, "Little Odessa." His new film stars Joaquin Phoenix and
Mark Wahlberg as brothers on opposite sides of the law. Film critic David
Edelstein has a review.

DAVID EDELSTEIN reporting:

"We Own the Night" is a fine atmospheric cop thriller, but it's Joaquin
Phoenix that lifts it into a different class. He's fresh off his uncanny
Johnny Cash performance in "Walk the Line," where he had the voice and
mannerisms down, yet also went deeper to suggest how much of Cash's early
outlaw persona was a pose to keep the world at bay. His work here is even
subtler. Almost everything is under the surface. He plays Bobby Grusinsky,
although he goes by the last name Green to distance himself from his family.
He's the manager of a popular night club owned by Russian Jews and something
of a druggie. His brother Joseph, played by Mark Wahlberg, is a cop and don't
stop me if you've heard this one because you have.

But the writer/director James Gray has a loftier theme. In interviews he says
he subscribes to the Greeks' idea, that your life is shaped primarily by
forces beyond your control. Your destiny is fixed. We can debate whether
destiny shapes character or character shapes destiny or whether Gray earns his
whopping pretensions, but Phoenix gives his vision weight.

The film is set in 1988, a high point in New York's crack cocaine-fueled
devastation. "We Own the Night" is the new street crimes unit slogan.
Wahlberg's Joseph is helping lead it, and overseeing all is the brothers'
police chief dad, played by Robert Duvall, who's so marvelously at ease in his
body it's no wonder these sons have trouble measuring up. The plot kicks into
gear when Joseph and his unit come to Bobby with a proposal. They're in a
church, upstairs from a reception. Bobby doesn't want to be there and is,
incidentally, stoned out of his mind.

(Soundbite of "We Own the Night")

Mr. MARK WAHLBERG: (As Joseph) I'm going to be heading up this new narcotics
team starting this week. Russian...(unintelligible)...Brighton. We're
looking at this guy, Vadim Nezhinski. He served time in the Soviet Union for
black market activity. Came over around 1979. He's operating out of that
spot you managed...(unintelligible).

Mr. JOAQUIN PHOENIX: (As Bobby) I don't know nothing about that.

Mr. WAHLBERG: (As Joseph) We know. We checked up and down the rest of the
management, too. His uncle, the owner.

Mr. PHOENIX: (As Bobby) The old man?

Mr. WAHLBERG: (As Joseph) Everybody else came up clean. It's just Nezhinski
working out.

Mr. PHOENIX: (As Bobby) You want me to inform?

Mr. WAHLBERG: (As Joseph) No.

Mr. PHOENIX: (As Bobby) Are you kidding me?

Mr. WAHLBERG: (As Joseph) Just observe, that's all. It's a closed
community. You're our only way in right now.

Mr. PHOENIX: (As Bobby) Why--why is this my problem?

Mr. WAHLBERG: (As Joseph) The whole city's falling apart. Don't you have
any sense of responsibility at all?

Mr. PHOENIX: (As Bobby) Let me think. No.

(End of soundbite)

EDELSTEIN: In many movies, the forces of destiny are dramatized by characters
who can't resist the pull of criminality. Like Al Pacino in "Godfather III,"
who says, `They just keep pulling me back in.' Here it's the opposite. Bobby
just keeps being pulled into law enforcement. What's amazing about Phoenix is
he makes Bobby's irresolution more powerful, more active, than other actors'
resolution.

The story is very conventional, which undercuts director Gray's thesis. What
he calls fate, I call formula, and that thesis sometimes upstages the
character. The Russian sociopaths are far more cliched than in David
Cronenberg's "Eastern Promises," and Eva Menendez as Bobby's Latina lover
starts out like gangbusters then recedes, like every other hero's girlfriend
as the shoot-'em-up stuff takes over.

But Gray's work here and in his last film, "The Yards," has a core of
authenticity that recalls the gritty New York crime dramas of the '70s.
There's little in the way of music. It's mostly an ambient whine mixed with
cars on wet streets and passing planes. Wahlberg's character takes some
surprising turns. He overcame dyslexia to succeed at the police academy, but
the tightness in his face and body signals inner panic.

What really sells Gray's notion of character is, of all things, a car chase.
It's shot from Bobby's perspective in a car behind a windshield in a hard
rain, and even with his foot on the gas he seems to be moving underwater. He
can't catch up to something terrible happening ahead. When you've forgotten
most of "We Own the Night," you'll remember that chase and the look on
Phoenix's face as events move beyond his control and his destiny awaits.

BIANCULLI: David Edelstein is film critic for New York Magazine.

(Credits)

BIANCULLI: For Terry Gross, I'm David Bianculli.
Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

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