The conceit is borrowed directly from the song itself, which recently saw official release on the 20th anniversary reissue of OK Computer. “This is the place, sit down, you’re safe now,” Yorke sings on the track. “You’ve been stuck in a lift/ We’ve been trying to reach you.”
In the beginning of the “Lift” clip, Yorke shuffles into the elevator with a plastic bag in each hand, assuming a dead-to-the-world position: leaning against one wall, staring at the floor. Other elevator patrons cycle in and out of view – an old woman with a grocery cart, a large group of bald, suited businessmen. The camera is mostly as stationary as Yorke, glued to the back of the elevator though occasionally switching to an overhead view.
In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, members of Radiohead remembered performing “Lift” live in 1996 on tour opening for Alanis Morissette. “[The crowd] responded really well to that one night,” said Ed O’Brien. “It had a really killer groove. It kind of got them rocking in the aisles.”
Despite – or perhaps because of – this reaction, Radiohead elected to leave “Lift” off OK Computer. “‘Lift,’ ‘Man-o-War,’ ‘I Promise,’ these were the songs that I think people at the label were looking at thinking, ‘Yeah, there we go. That’s gotta work,'” Philip Selway told Rolling Stone. “And we delivered an album that didn’t have them on there, even though they’d been recorded. So I think probably, initially, we probably wrong-footed quite a few people.”
All three of those songs appeared on the 20th anniversary reissue of OK Computer in June.