Motor vehicle safety has always been a major issue in the U.S. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration earlier this year estimated that 31,785 people died in traffic crashes in the first nine months of 2022, down 0.2% from the same period in 2021. This week’s EHSDA Song of the Week focuses on car safety courtesy of Radiohead, who led off their 1997 album OK Computer with “Airbag.”
Written by singer Thom Yorke after reading a British Automobile Association article titled “An Airbag Saved My Life,” the song signaled a new direction for Radiohead, who were coming off two successful alternative rock releases. “Airbag” finds the band exploring more experimental sounds, incorporating electronics, samples and distorted guitar into the mix. The result is a haunting lament about the dangers of driving, something that Yorke has noted frequently in interviews.
Released in May 1997, OK Computer received critical acclaim and was nominated for multiple Grammy awards, winning Best Alternative Music Album in 1998.