Award-winning Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin is a Radiohead mega-fan -- he even named his 2007 novel Exit Music, after the band's song "Exit Music (for a Film)." So when the British group unveiled their most recent album, The King of Limbs, the author was among the many supporters who ordered the deluxe version from the band's online store ASAP. Unfortunately, Rankin never received his record and, having spending weeks attempting to track down his still-undelivered package, has now posted a lengthy op-ed over at The Quietus, renouncing his Radiohead fandom.
As Rankin explains in the lengthy but entertaining column, he ordered his copy back in February. Eventually, the album appeared online and in stores, but there was still no sign of his deluxe vinyl edition. After much Kafkaesque frustration, Rankin eventually got in touch with someone under Radiohead's employ, who told him that the package had been delivered and signed for -- a claim that Rankin says is untrue.
He eventually contacted the delivery company, the delivery subcontractors, and the courier, all to no avail (apparently, it's nearly impossible to contact a real human being through the Radiohead website). And as Rankin points out, he is hardly alone, as others have taken to complaining on Internet message boards about undelivered Radiohead packages.
"Radiohead aren't supposed to be like this. They are the band who chart feelings of alienation, but this is surely taking things a stage too far," Rankin writes of his experience. "We lovers of modern music don't like to think of ourselves as mere consumers. When we buy washing-powder we don't pore over the packaging, and discuss with each other the merits of this latest box and its contents, but we do with our Radiohead albums -- we scrutinise the artwork, we listen with dedication to every track, we embark on debates (online; in each others' homes; on the phone) about certain tracks, themes, lyrics. We are not consumers; we are fans -- music fans. And when we are treated with indifference, it can start to hurt, and to colour our perception of a band, a brand, an album, an industry."
While other bands have become more accessible to their fans, he goes on to point out, "Radiohead have turned the other way, courtesy of their own website's uncomprehending and faceless blankness."
Rankin even went so far as to renounce the band entirely, writing, "A remix version of The King of Limbs will be appearing soon. Trust me, I'll be last in the queue. Radiohead are Radiodead to me now."
Luckily, Rankin's story has a happy ending (sorry of). The writer concludes, "I've just received an e-mail. It tells me a copy of The King of Limbs will be with me tomorrow." But perhaps this is too little, too late.
Read Rankin's entire piece here.
Thanks to The Daily Swarm for the heads-up.