Almost every guitarist I know either knows how to play Street Spirit or wants to learn. Despite sounding a little complex at first, it is actually a fairly easy song to play on the guitar; it consists of three simple chords, A minor, E minor and C, and they are played in the following style:

Am:
E------0-------0-------0------------
B----------3-------1-------0--------
G--------2---2---2---2---2---2---2--
D----2-------------------------2----
A--0--------------------------------
E-----------------------------------

Em:
E------0-------0-------0------------
B----------3-------1-------0--------
G--------0---0---0---0---0---0---0--
D------------------------------2----
A----2------------------------------
E--0--------------------------------

C:
E------0-------0-------0------------
B----------3-------1-------0--------
G--------0---0---0---0---0---0---0--
D----2-------------------------2----
A--3--------------------------------
E-----------------------------------

They are played thusly:

Am x2
Rows of houses all bearing down on me
Am x2
I can feel their blue hands touching me
Em x2
All these things into position, all these things we'll one day swallow whole

Am x2

C - Em - Am
And fade out again
C - Em
And fade out

Am x2
This machine will, will not communicate these thoughts
Am x2
And the strain I am under
Em x2
Be a world child, form a circle before we all go under

Am x2

C - Em - Am
And fade out again
C - Em
And fade out

Am x2
Cracked eggs, dead birds scream as they fight for life
Am x2
I can feel death, can see it's beady eyes
Em x2
All these things into frution, all these things we'll one day swallow whole

Am x2

C - Em - Am
And fade out again
C - Em - Am
And fade out again

...

G - Em - Am
Immerse your soul in love
G - Em - Am
Immerse your soul in love

It will no doubt take a while to get used to, but once you do it will come more naturally, plus it makes you look really cool if you can play it without looking at the strings. I have been told that Ed plays it going from the bass note straight to the G, but I'm not 100% certain either way, and I reckon it sounds just as good played the other way. The way the band plays the song actually requires a second guitar, but I have yet to work out exactly what it is supposed to play. If you know anyone else who owns a guitar and knows what to do, the song does sound better with it in; a friend of mine once played those extra bits along to my doing the above tab and it was teh awesome!

As for the song itself, it has to be one of the saddest and most hopeless I have heard. Back in 1995 when I first heard it played on the radio I was only 15, still dressing in plaid shirts and old jeans, a fan of Nirvana, The Offspring, Alice in Chains and all their brands of aimless rebellion, thinking I was an adult now I had tasted vodka. This song hit me like a brick - I had heard nothing like it before and yet, somehow, it defined everything I had been searching for all through my wasted alcohol-and-fighting-filled youth. I remember that single being the second CD I ever bought and even now, almost ten years on, it still evokes that haunting feeling in the pit of the stomach (that might be the vodka though). So here, for your perusing pleasure, is a quote of Thom Yorke which gives us some idea of the spirit behind the actual song:

"Street Spirit" is our purest song, but I didn't write it. It wrote itself... I wouldn't ever try to write something that hopeless. All of our saddest songs have somewhere in them at least a glimmer of resolve. "Street Spirit" has no resolve. It is the dark tunnel without the light at the end. It represents all tragic emotion that is so hurtful that the sound of that melody is its only definition... I can't believe we have fans that can deal emotionally with that song. That's why I'm convinced that they don't know what it's about... It drains me, and it shakes me, and hurts like hell everytime I play it, looking out at thousands of people cheering and smiling, oblivious to the tragedy of it's meaning, like when you're going to have your dog put down and it's wagging it's tail on the way there. That's what they all look like, and it breaks my heart. I wish that song hadn't picked us as its catalysts, and so I don't claim it. It asks too much... I didn't write that song.

(CST Approved)

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