Sur-prise (ser-prahyz) n. The astonishment you feel when something totally unexpected happens.

In a news story that really only appeared on a news page because Thom Yorke is in it, NME reported Tuesday that Thom Yorke becomes very difficult to live with when he is in the process of recording. This comes as a surprise to people who did not know John Lennon is dead, trans-fat is bad for you, and Tyra Banks is narcissistic.

According to NME, Yorke’s partner Rachel Owen, who has the duty of dealing with the awkward person Yorke becomes while going through the process of recording, has yet to even hear the fruits of Yorke’s last struggle on In Rainbows. “I think my missus isn’t ready to hear it yet. Having seen me go through the mill making it,” Yorke told Rolling Stone in February. “It’s a difficult thing for her to watch me go through the whole process. She doesn’t like it. So she’s not exactly ready to listen to the music.”

It’s a fairly known fact that lead singers are a strange breed – Elvis had his bowls of bacon, Nugent his striped northern marmoset briefs and protuberating lower jaw. But when the neurosis can spread from Yorke to his significant other (for lack of a better term than the much-used “partner,” which sounds like they live in a VD clinic), you’re either talking about a soul connection on par with What Dreams May Come, or one serious neurosis. We already know about Yorke’s phobia of cars owing to his 1987 crash, his irrational fear of flying, plus his paralyzed left eye which gave him difficulty making friends as a child. All of that, coupled with any insight his suicidally dreary lyrics provide, make me fairly certain that I wouldn’t bet the station wagon to rule out the latter.

That said, Owen has some conviction in her to stand with someone who writes lyrics like “such a pretty house and such a pretty garden, get me out of here.” It’s likely the reason she doesn’t want to hear the music is because she’s terrified of how cynical and dark her boyfriend can be. Perhaps the strangest part of all is how it’s supposed to work: Girl meets dark, brooding guy, girl is irresistibly attracted to guy, girl spends rest of life madly in love and wondering if he’s ok. Except in the textbook, they end up living in a dumpster behind Dairy Queen because his dark passion is 3-D landscapes molded out of green library paste and capers. In Owen’s case, her boyfriend’s dark passion sells out in three minutes and causes stories like this one to appear on the web. Did I mention Thom has a lot of really nice stuff? So the moral of the story is, Thom Yorke is a neurotic head case who wears Dior sunglasses in the shower, so that’s a pretty good deal. I hear the album isn’t bad, either.

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