By on May 10, 2017

Radiohead OK Computer

Or maybe you will. Someone did.

As the 20-year anniversary of the release of UK alternative band Radiohead’s monster OK Computer album approaches, an online sleuth has provided pretty compelling evidence as to the locale of the image seen on the album cover.

Radiohead — a band you might have once been really into before worrying it was all a little too pretentious (and back again) — incorporated several automotive references into the album and associated videos. The album cover itself featured a scratchy image of a nondescript highway interchange. Probably a drawing. It’s not like the Blind Faith album cover, so no one thought anything of it.

However, music fans are not known for being allergic to geekiness. The same goes for transportation nerds. One such nerd transportation infrastructure aficionado now says it took him just 10 minutes to figure out the very real U.S. setting for the album cover.

On the Radiohead Reddit page, user Jordan 117 has apparently provided the answer. An OK Computer fan, the album cover had always intrigued him. When the band released concept art from the album, more details of the interchange emerged:

It doesn’t show that much more, but you can tell that the area is urban, hilly, and probably American going by the signage and right-driving traffic. Unfortunately you can’t quite read the lettering, but hopefully it was enough for an expert to make use of. So I headed off to the forums at AARoads.com, a haven for “roadgeeks” who love discussing interstates, construction, road trips, etc.

The roadgeeks immediately took up the challenge, with one user, “Mapmikey,” posting a detailed answer just six hours later. The scratchy image is a dead ringer for the eastbound I-84 interchange with I-94 in Hartford, Connecticut, right before the highway crosses the Connecticut River. Mapmikey described his search process:

Took about 10 minutes. The middle BGS has a two word control city with just a single letter as the first word.  The BGS on the right has a two word city but two actual words.  I figured that it was east of the Mississippi because of the (IMO) tight footprint of the interchange.

So what interstate junctions in the east might fit the that BGS criteria? E Hartford and New Haven.

Jordan117 overlaid the album cover and actual image of the interchange in the gif seen below. The road network appears identical. Using his powers of fandom, he then uncovered an explanation for how that particular interchange made it to the album’s cover:

Looking at the area in Google Earth, it looks like the photo was taken from out the window of the nearby Hilton. And looking at the band’s gigography, I think I can even pinpoint the date: August 20th, 1996, one of the last gigs before they went back to the UK to record OK Computer.

Who says the internet is a waste of time?

View post on imgur.com

[Source: The Independent] [Image: Parlophone Limited]

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31 Comments on “You’ll Never Guess Where Radiohead’s OK Computer Highway Interchange Is...”


  • avatar
    Alfisti

    An absolute masterpiece. They drifted backwards into Pink Floyd territory after this record but is, as stated, a masterpiece.

  • avatar
    KevinC

    I love stuff like this.

    I’m a huge Clint Eastwood fan. Love the movie The Gauntlet, part of which is supposed to take place In the little town of Wickenburg, AZ. Shortly after moving to AZ in 2004, a co-worker who is from Wickenburg looked at a couple of stills from the movie and immediately said “that’s not Wickenburg”. So I got on a quest to figure out where it was. Turned out those scenes were filmed in little Superior, AZ, about 60 miles on the other side (east) of Phoenix, which wouldn’t have worked with the plot calling for a Vegas-to-WIckenburg travel timeline. I accidentally nailed it when I took a picture looking up Main Street in Superior, showing a mountain in the background that clearly matched the backdrop in the movie. As soon as I saw the picture, I recognized the setting. Turns out lots of cool films have been shot there, including Oliver Stone cult classic U-Turn.

  • avatar

    I 91 not I 94

  • avatar
    ldl20

    It’s the TTAC Effect in effect! I was just looking through my i-Tunes album art yesterday, and when I compared all of Radiohead’s covers, I paused on OK Computer the longest…for whatever reason, it appeals to me.

    Personally, “In Rainbows” has a permanent place in my mind’s 5-disc CD changer, but I may have to listen to OK Computer tonight.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      If you haven’t listened to the “From the Basement” performance of In Rainbows, you’re in for a treat.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HeHqt9YcVDs

      • 0 avatar
        Snavehtrebor

        My DVR is nearly 10 years old because of that. One day it will die, but until then, I can spool up In Rainbows and TKOL live from the basement, and watch it on a 60″ screen instead of a 24″ monitor.

  • avatar
    newenthusiast

    Their debut came out when I was in HS, and “Creep” was ubiquitous, but nothing special to me.

    Their next one,’The Bends’, is where they peaked in my opinion. They weren’t yet so self-serious and involved and fancying themselves like a new Pink Floyd, with all the boring pretensions that came with Floyd too.

    “Just”, “My Iron Lung”, “High and Dry”….all great. And this not my usual kind of music. I played the heck out of it on my college radio shows.

    • 0 avatar
      s_a_p

      Agreed. The bends is their best work. Ok computer is their most accessible work. Although exit music is probably one of the best produced songs made.

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        I enjoyed the application of Exit Music on Westworld. No Surprises and Fake Plastic Trees were also great choices for the series. I was singing along when the western piano version of each kicked in.

        Wake
        From your sleep
        The drying of your tears
        Today
        We escape
        We escape

        Pack
        And get dressed
        Before your father hears us
        Before
        All hell
        Breaks loose

        • 0 avatar
          WallMeerkat

          I enjoyed the application of Exit Music in Father Ted.

          “Father, do you mind if I put on the radio?”

          “No I don’t put it on”

          “With their new single, here’s Radiohead”

          Wake
          From your sleep
          The drying of your tears
          Today
          We escape
          We escape….

          (As the priest gets ever more miserable and the bus drives off into the distance)

          “The band are known to be quite choosy when it comes to their songs being used for films and TV shows but granted permission for the song to be used since they were huge fans of the show.” – http://fatherted.wikia.com/wiki/Going_to_America

  • avatar
    Daniel J

    I was/am a huge fan of grunge, rock alternative, and post grunge and the like. But I was never a fan of Radiohead. They won all kinds of awards and never thought anything special about them. Same for Nirvanna, but that is Blasphemous I guess.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      You’re not alone. I gave Radiohead several listens back when everyone was going apesh*t over them and it left me flat and perplexed. And a bit depressed. Combined with the unceasing grey Oregon winter their music made me think of crawling into a corner with a bottle of pills.

      It’s been quite awhile though and my musical tastes have changed a bit. Maybe I’ll give ’em another listen.

    • 0 avatar
      brawnychicken333

      Same here. Karma Police is a cool song-but the rest of it is dour and boring. The reggae version of Karma Police is better than Radiohead’s own version anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      newenthusiast

      You are not alone on this. Cobain was a terrible singer, player, and songwriter. Grohl is far more talented in evry regard. Never got the appeal. Unlistenable.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al From 'Murica

        All Apologies is like a time machine taking me back to the early 90s. Yes, Grohl is the superior musician in my opinion as well but Nirvana shaped a decade of music and to call it unlistenable is a stretch. Of course Garbage is my favorite band of the era so what do I know.

        • 0 avatar
          newenthusiast

          I don’t deny their influence. I simply don’t understand it. It’s a terrible legacy that we can now see has made rock music mostly irrelevant in 21st Century American music.

          Nielsen BDS reported that a no. 1 rock song reaches only 12 million people vs. 81 million for the average pop hit in 2016. The status quo in rock these days is to make records aimed directly at upper-middle-class college graduates living in big cities. Only a small handful of indie bands attempt to reach listeners who aren’t already on the team; even the really good records reside firmly in a familiar wheelhouse of tastefully arty and historically proven “college rock” aesthetics and attitudes that mean nothing to the outside world.

          They also reject the traditional ethos of building an audience through live shows. If you want to see most modern bands play live, it helps if you reside in New York City, or Seattle, or Portland, or Chicago, or Los Angeles, because the bands probably live there, too. Otherwise, you have to hope that your city — and by “your city,” I mean a city within a couple hundred miles of where you live — is one of the 15 to 20 stops on the band’s ‘tour’. That used to be a month’s worth of shows for a rock band, not a whole tour. They don’t want to play for everyone or visit middle America…because apparently ‘we don’t get it.’ It’s institutionalized musical snobbery and its hurt the record industry just as much, if not more than, digital streaming.

          If someone happens to be part of the audience that rock music used to cater to — if they work an unsexy job in an unsexy town in an unsexy part of the country — they’re not really invited to the party anymore.

          There’s still a form of rock music that’s made for them, it’s just not called rock music — it’s called country. Modern country is closer to the sort of heartland rock that people like Springsteen, Tom Petty, and Bob Seger made into a viable commercial genre in the ’70s and ’80s than it is twang and fiddle. Which is a shame, because I generally can’t stand even the country-ish pop rock that makes up most country radio. I don’t even like the early Eagles stuff.

          Anyway, it’s not that people stopped wanting records like that; rock bands just lost interest in making them in the post-Nirvana soundscape. Everything has to be ironically detached. Earnestness is seen as lowbrow an unintelligent. You can’t actually mean what you say and show real emotion.

          Regarding my adjective for Nirvana’s music. That’s subjective. It literally gives me headaches. It sounds like a bunch of 12 year old who are thrashing about in a garage, trying to learn how to play as a band. I simply cannot listen to it, and believe me I tried. All my friends in HS were into it when it ‘Nevermind’ came out and insisted it was near life changing. I still don’t see/hear how.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al From 'Murica

            Interesting post. Funny that “12 year olds thrashing about in a garage sound” to me describes Sonic Youth, but I digress.

            As to what has happened to Rock Music, Oddly enough I think Howard Stern nails it. There has always been Pop. Rock was the entity that lived along side of mainstream pop. There was some crossover and sometimes the Rock was equal in popularity, but you had top 40 stations and you had rock stations.

            Times have changed to where Hip Hop is now the entity that lives beside pop. There are a number of reasons. I dont think we, as rock fans helped matters by always clinging to the 70’s acts as the pinnacle of the genre and gravitating to “classic rock” while ignoring new bands.

            Also the business has changed. Music isn’t marketed in a manner that caters to traditional rock bands. They are centered on complete albums and touring. Today the industry would rather just release single songs by easy to market acts like Beyonce, Taylor Swift and the like. The Album will be the next causality with only artists like Adele even bothering.

            You are right on country though…but there is a lot of crap pervasive in that genre too but there are a lot of solid acts. Chris Stapleton comes to mind.

            But traditional rock is still out there, and not just the old bands like the Foo Fighters. There is a band called Dead Sara I like, though they appear to be going nowhere.

            Bottom line, I don’t think Nirvana killed rock (I mean Pearl Jam is still touring). Rock was just the slowest to adapt to changing times and unless something changes will end up being a niche genre like jazz today.

          • 0 avatar
            Snavehtrebor

            OTOH, bands like Cage the Elephant, Kings of Leon, and My Morning Jacket deliberately tour flyover country, because that’s where they’re from.

          • 0 avatar
            Dave M.

            Try XMU or Alt on Sirius. Couldn’t live without them.

          • 0 avatar
            newenthusiast

            @Big Al From ‘Murica.

            Tell me more about this Dead Sara

        • 0 avatar
          Land Ark

          I met my wife at a Garbage concert. And it’s a total coincidence that she is also a redhead like Shirley.

          Looking forward to seeing them again this summer during their tour with Blondie.

          I haven’t been able to get into the latest album, but I’m a total mark for Not Your Kind of People.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al From 'Murica

            Awesome…Is that combo coming stateside? I love that new Garbage albums are instantly recognizable as a Garbage Album without sounding just like the last album. The new album is solid.

          • 0 avatar
            Land Ark

            They are indeed touring the US together. I’ll be seeing them here in VA on 8/3. They’ve added some dates from the original announcement.

            My plan is to listen to Strange Little Birds this afternoon without interruption.

        • 0 avatar
          Daniel J

          I would argue it was bands like Pearl Jam, STP, and Alice in Chains shaped that decade. If he hadn’t died, I don’t think Nirvana would sit where they are in terms of great bands or great music.

      • 0 avatar
        Flipper35

        Cobain’s voice was still an order of magnitude better than Axl Rose.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    OK Computer is on my short list for best albums of the 20th Century. It’s one of the few albums I feel needs to be listened to from start to finish to fully appreciate.

    For everyone who complained about their follow-up albums, keep in mind the next two albums were f-you’s to their label. They wanted to get out of the contract and the label wouldn’t let them, they were required to put out two more albums. So they put out two back to back albums that they hoped would be commercial flops.
    Turns out they couldn’t manage that, some people think those two were their best albums.

    • 0 avatar
      WallMeerkat

      Landmark album of the late 20th century, approaching the new millennium, captured the angst of that time period. In the UK it was just before the “New Labour” Tony Blair leadership was ushered in, which was meant to be “Things can only get better”, but ended up Tory-lite.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    Taken that interchange literally hundreds of times visiting my grandparents on the CT/MA border from my home in SE CT.

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