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Radiohead: Tracing the history of A Moon Shaped Pool tracks

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Radiohead‘s new album isn’t all that new: The English band’s A Moon Shaped Pool, released May 8, features seven songs that they’ve played before, including fan-favorite “True Love Waits,” and one — the album’s opener and lead single, “Burn the Witch” — that they’ve been cooking up for over 15 years. Below, EW traces the history and origins of these Moon Shaped Pool Tracks, which are now available digitally on Tidal, Apple Music, iTunes, and the album’s official website.

“Burn the Witch”

Moon Shaped Pool‘s opening track dates back to 2000’s Kid A sessions, longtime Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich previously told MTV News’ Simon Vozick-Levinson. “Yeah, there’s been versions of that song were recorded… It exists,” Godrich said, according to a snippet of a 2012 interview Vozick-Levinson tweeted out in late April. Godrich also confirmed that they worked on the song during the Hail to the Thief and In Rainbows sessions. (Those albums were released in 2003 and 2007, respectively.) “But where it goes, nobody knows. I haven’t heard it mentioned for a while, let me put it that way.”

“Desert Island Disk”

Yorke first played “Desert Island Track” at a 2015 solo show in Paris, where he also debuted another Moon Shaped Pool track “The Numbers” (more on that below.) The title refers to a BBC radio show titled Desert Island Discs where guests pick eight records they would bring to an abandoned island.

“Ful Stop” and “Identikit”

Radiohead introduced “Ful Stop” at a June 2012 show in Illinois, and, along with “Identikit,” went on to play it multiple times throughout that tour.

“The Numbers”

Yorke’s an outspoken environmentalist, so lyrics from “The Numbers” like, “We are of the earth / To her we do return” and “We call upon the people / People have this power” fit in well with his eco-friendly reputation — and the song was even more overtly green prior to this album: Yorke originally dubbed the track “Silent Spring” after Rachel Carson’s 1962 book of the same name about how pesticides are harming the environment. He previously performed the track at a couple of 2015 Paris solo shows, where he hinted at its connection to the band when he interjected mid-song to note, “This is Jonny’s bit,” referring to Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood.

“Present Tense”

“This is a new song,” Yorke said when he debuted “Present Tense” during a solo performance at 2009’s Latitude Festival, “so, you know, go for a piss.” His crowd might have listened, because he ended up shelving the track for six years before breaking it out again at the same Paris shows where he premiered “Desert Island Disk” and what would later be “The Numbers.”

“True Love Waits”

True love waits, and so do true fans. Yorke began playing the acoustic track at Radiohead shows back in 1995, meaning it’s taken more than 20 years for it to appear on one of their studio albums. The melancholy song did previously appear on 2001’s I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings, a decision Godrich wasn’t too pleased with: “It’s so irritating to me that the version of the song that comes out ultimately [was] a really s—-y off-the-deck recording of them playing it live, because we couldn’t find a way of doing it that did the song justice,” he told Vozick-Levinson around 2012. That same year, the band changed it up a bit by replacing the guitar with synths when they led into “Everything in its Right Place” with it on their King of Limbs tour. It went through yet another makeover for Moon Shaped Pool, where it lives on as a dreamy piano ballad.

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