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Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

A Car Crash Into the End of Existence | “Bending Hectic” by The Smile

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In the confrontation of the last moments of our lives, there are two people: those that protest and those that are silent. For the latter, there is no fight to pick with our inevitable end. We won’t run; we won’t protest. With our mouths sealed shut, we’ll listen for the last sound of the tinkling wind chimes outside of our childhood homes before the great inferno consumes us. We’ll wish for the wind to brush our cheeks one last time before the sky falls. With all that has ever loved us in our hearts, we’ll watch the end credits roll into the disintegrating clouds to the sound of “Bending Hectic” by The Smile.

The tune transcends all meaning. Listening to it for the first time, I pictured twinkling stars on a clear night, a satellite circling the galaxies. After sharing the song with a friend though, she conjured up the image of sunshine peeking through the tufts of clouds. It’s rays reaching out at you and painting pink on your cheeks as if they were the hands of god. There is no correct image for the mix of orchestra, guitar and drums that circle in symphony to create this song. 

“I’m changing down the gears /

I’m slamming on the brakes.”

Thom Yorke sings of a moment remembered in slow motion. He describes a car crash, and the slow descent into the arms of Death, who embraces him like an old friend. 

“ We’re coming to a bend now /

Skidding ’round the hairpin /

A sheer drop down /

The Italian mountainside.”

He describes every action with such care, as if he’s singing from beyond the grave in an intimate reflection on his last moments. The ascending notes mimic a tuning guitar; there is imperfection in the most measured of notes, in the most meticulous of lives. The percussion is irregular, jumping from the soft shimmer of the tambourine to the unpredictable beat. Nothing should work as well as it does, but every imperfect aspect of the song holds hands with each other comfortably. 

“No one’s gonna bring me down, no /

No way and no how /

I’m letting go of the wheel /

It might be as well /

It might be as well /

I’ve got these slings /

I’ve got these arrows /

I’ll force myself to /

I’ve got these slings /

I’ve got these arrows /

I’ll forcе myself to /

Turn, turn.”

As he surrenders to the horror of the moment, Yorke describes the feeling of true abandonment of all hope. The slings and arrows he refers to are the battles he is forced to conquer in order to simply be and survive the moment. He repeats the lines over and over as the strings escalate. He is forcing himself to turn; he is forcing himself to turn. As the seconds before the final collision become the present, Yorke has a change of heart. The strings collide into 30 seconds of almost unlistenable dissonance. It is the musical interpretation of the hardest battle of all: the one against your body and your brain. In one final standoff, the guitar breaks through in one of the most satisfying conclusions I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. The body wins. 

“Despite these slings /

Despite these arrows /

I’ll force myself to /

Despite these slings /

Despite these arrows /

I’ll force myself to /

Turn, turn.”

The white flag is taken down from its mast. In spite of the slings and arrows, Death waits another day for his fix. 

“Bending Hectic” is a study on humanity. It questions our very existence without quite coming up with an answer. We start dying the moment we are born, but we continue to live anyway with no true reason why. It simply acknowledges the most torturous element of life: the conscious feeling of constant unknowing. Despite our slings and despite our arrows, we will always turn.

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About the Contributor
Riya Patchava, Writer
Riya Patchava is a writer and volunteer at Impact. She is a Creative Advertising major with plans to graduate in the spring of 2026. Along with writing articles, Riya can be found obsessively rewatching her favorite shows, shamelessly devouring fiesta-sized bags of Takis and making her way through her never-ending reading list. Some of her favorite artists are Lana Del Rey, The Moldy Peaches, Radiohead and Fiona Apple, who she often listens to on full volume to the point of physical pain. She can be reached at [email protected].

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