My Iron Lung is the third extended play (EP) by English alternative rock group Radiohead, released in October 1994. The title track later appeared on the band's second studio album The Bends (1995). The EP also contains outtakes from then-ongoing recording sessions for The Bends, compiling songs that were issued as B-sides on two separate "My Iron Lung" CD singles in the UK and other markets. My Iron Lung was originally released in EP form with all eight songs only in Australia, but it is currently in print worldwide.
The record is seen as a bridge between the relative simplicity of their 1993 debut album Pablo Honey, and the greater sonic depth of Radiohead's later work, beginning with The Bends. The "My Iron Lung" single charted at number 24 in the UK. It received little radio or MTV attention in the United States.
The title track "My Iron Lung" was included in 2008's Radiohead: The Best Of collection.
The song "My Iron Lung" was recorded live, in the same 1994 London concert filmed for Live at the Astoria, with only singer Thom Yorke later overdubbed. The song as it appears on the 1994 singles/EP is virtually identical to the version that appeared the next year on The Bends, with only some barely audible changes in mixing levels.
"My Iron Lung" was Radiohead's reaction to "Creep", their massive hit of 1993 which also became something of a millstone for Yorke. The song's caustic, self-reflexive lyrics used the iron lung as a metaphor for the way "Creep" had both sustained the band's life and constrained them ("this is our new song / just like the last one / a total waste of time / my iron lung"). An acoustic version of "Creep" itself appears at the end of the EP.
Other songs on the EP charted a course away from the emotional grunge-pop of Pablo Honey], toward more layered sounds and more inventive guitar parts from Jonny Greenwood, especially evidenced in the ethereal "Punchdrunk Lovesick Singalong" and the Sonic Youth homage "Permanent Daylight", whose vocals ("the easiest way to sell your soul is to carry on believing that you don't exist / it must be hard with your head on backwards") hide in a wall of noise. "The Trickster", like the title track, approaches heavy metal. "Lewis" is musically a punky sequel to Pablo Honey's "How Do You" but the lyrics may point to "Just" from The Bends, both serving as a warnings to seemingly oblivious friends on the verge of breakdown. The acoustic "Lozenge of Love" uses unusual tonality and lyrics taken from Philip Larkin's poem "Sad Steps", while "You Never Wash Up After Yourself" is a quiet, desolate song for guitar and voice.
In Britain and most of the world, this EP was initially available instead as two singles: the first, with a blue-tinted cover, featured the title track backed by "The Trickster", "Punchdrunk Lovesick Singalong", and "Lozenge of Love"; the second, with a red-tinted cover, had "Lewis (Mistreated)", "Permanent Daylight", and "You Never Wash Up After Yourself" as B-sides. "Creep (Acoustic)" (which had also closed the earlier Japanese Itch EP) only appears on the EP release.
Nigel Godrich first worked with Radiohead on this recording, going on to engineer The Bends and to produce their later work. Tracks 2-7 of the EP is now available as the first six tracks on the bonus disc of the collector's edition of The Bends, albeit in a different order ("My Iron Lung" being on the actual album).