Jump to content

Your favourite lyrics


Duff
 Share

Recommended Posts

Let's try to have an Actual Conversation About Radiohead. (That's why we're here, isn't it? Because you can get memes anywhere.)

Thom's responsible for some clunkers, but more than a few beauties:

  • "Hey it's me, I just got off the train." I think the song as a whole is a little bland, but the phone-call is so uncharacteristically personal, direct, and intimate, it struck me the first time I heard it. (The lyrics go downhill directly after that though.)
  • "Riot shields, voodoo economics" - an example of Thom writing about politics properly. Concrete and specific, original (ie not "the people have the power").
  • "If you'd been a dog, they woulda drowned you at birth" - the most startlingly vicious and horrible thing Thom ever wrote.
  • "You forget so easy" - the perfect line before Thom's army arrives to kick the shit out of you. "Easy" over "easily" gives it the perfect hooligan cadence.
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

These are just a few favorites; some that work for me within the context of the song, while others work for me on their own terms. And contrary to the constitution of atease, I'm gonna actually be sincere! (maybe a little too much so!)

True Love Waits

Quote

I'm not living / I'm just killing time

Perhaps my favorite Radiohead lyric; if not my favorite, the one I think back on the most. I've lived with depression for at least the last six or seven years of my life, and this is a remarkably succinct description of what living with depression feels like to me. Thom correctly delineates between living and merely existing.

Fitter Happier

"Fitter Happier" prefigures the cut-and-paste lyrical snippets that made up much of the material on Kid A, and I think it's arguably Thom's most successful experiment in that style. Some may find these lyrics juvenile, but I find that they only resonate more as I get older. An endless supply of words have been written about how OK Computer predicted the dystopian side of the Internet age, but really: is there a song that better predicted our increasing infatuation with, and the exponential proliferation of, shallow self-help bullshit? You are now fully optimized.

No Surprises

Quote

Such a pretty house / and such a pretty garden

Simple, innocuous lyric made transcendent in context of the song. It's another one that resonates with my experience with depression. Shortly after becoming a homeowner I parked outside the house one evening and thought of this line. I had "made it" - a house, a career, a wife, kids, etc. So how could I feel so sad? Moreover, what right did I have to feel so sad? I was very fucking fortunate, all things considered. "No Surprises" is wary of a pretty, "optimal" exterior hiding a hollow interior, and it's captured perfectly at this climactic moment.

Motion Picture Soundtrack
 

Quote

Red wine and sleeping pills / help me get back to your arms

Cheap sex and sad films / help me get where I belong

Just a brilliant opening stanza, juxtaposing the concrete imagery of solitary pleasures we use to cope - "red wine," "sleeping pills," "cheap sex," "sad films" - with their inability to bring us the kind of human connection we yearn for, let alone get us "where [we] belong." It's devastating, but fucking beautiful.

Decks Dark

Quote

Then into your life, there comes the darkness / there's a spacecraft blocking out the sky
And there's nowhere to hide / you run to the back and you cover your ears
But it's the loudest sound you've ever heard / now we're trapped, rag doll cloth people
We are helpless to resist / Into our darkest hour

I love this opening stanza for the same reason @myth does: it captures, through some very sharp imagery, what it feels like to be thrown into a terrifying situation you can't escape from. It seems reasonable to think that this is a direct reference to Rachel's cancer diagnosis, and that's how I've chosen to interpret it. I received a cancer scare myself last year - I was showing all of the symptoms of a certain kind of cancer - and in the weeks leading up to my operation to verify if I did or not I kept coming back to this song. You want to put your head in the sand, to make it all go away by pretending it's not there, but the thing is so huge - a "spacecraft blocking out the sky," "the loudest sound you've ever heard" - there is no escape.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The thing about the Decks Dark lyrics is that they make perfect sense as a reading of some kind of personal tragedy like a cancer diagnosis, but the music kinda doesn't. It's too impersonal, too eerie, too Twilight Zone - and then in the midsection Thom goes full into HTTT sneery sardonic "just a laugh, just a laugh" mode, which makes a mess of that vibe. I'm tempted to feel it more as a broader, political thing, the spacecraft as a metaphor for governmental oppression or whatever.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

15 hours ago, Duff said:

The thing about the Decks Dark lyrics is that they make perfect sense as a reading of some kind of personal tragedy like a cancer diagnosis, but the music kinda doesn't. It's too impersonal, too eerie, too Twilight Zone - and then in the midsection Thom goes full into HTTT sneery sardonic "just a laugh, just a laugh" mode, which makes a mess of that vibe. I'm tempted to feel it more as a broader, political thing, the spacecraft as a metaphor for governmental oppression or whatever.

They're a bit hard to make out, but the faded lyrics to "Decks Dark" on those postcards from the '16 tour would suggest the "personal tragedy" interpretation is what Thom was going for.

https://citizeninsane.eu/artwork/09/img/lc_decksdark.jpg

In the middle is a bit that says:

Quote

 

You are terminal and you are within me

You will get your reward in heaven

[For that?] is where [you] are heading

 

But, yeah, the tone doesn't necessarily stay consistent throughout the song. I have often found it difficult to interpret Thom's lyrics as a whole, which is why I prefer to focus on snippets - within or without the context of the song.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/23/2018 at 6:31 PM, hysterical.useless said:

They're a bit hard to make out, but the faded lyrics to "Decks Dark" on those postcards from the '16 tour would suggest the "personal tragedy" interpretation is what Thom was going for.

https://citizeninsane.eu/artwork/09/img/lc_decksdark.jpg

In the middle is a bit that says:

But, yeah, the tone doesn't necessarily stay consistent throughout the song. I have often found it difficult to interpret Thom's lyrics as a whole, which is why I prefer to focus on snippets - within or without the context of the song.

I do think it is about Rachel - the split infinities line is very revealing.  the just a laugh I interpret as Thom's infidelities that drove them apart. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/24/2018 at 9:31 AM, hysterical.useless said:

They're a bit hard to make out, but the faded lyrics to "Decks Dark" on those postcards from the '16 tour would suggest the "personal tragedy" interpretation is what Thom was going for.

https://citizeninsane.eu/artwork/09/img/lc_decksdark.jpg

In the middle is a bit that says:

But, yeah, the tone doesn't necessarily stay consistent throughout the song. I have often found it difficult to interpret Thom's lyrics as a whole, which is why I prefer to focus on snippets - within or without the context of the song.

That’s because they don’t mean anything, like Rama Lama DingDong or Give Peace a Chance. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

15 hours ago, elnino said:

I do think it is about Rachel - the split infinities line is very revealing.  the just a laugh I interpret as Thom's infidelities that drove them apart. 

I don't get this. Why is it revealing? Was it very Rachel-like to use split infinitives?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The whole of A Wolf at the Door.

But these lines particularly because of how Thom is spitting it out and becoming more theatrical as the song progresses. The beginning is like a vocalist hitting on the accelerator.

Quote

Out pops the cracker
Smacks you in the head
Knifes you in the neck
Kicks you in the teeth

??

Myxomatosis is a close second.

Quote

But now I don’t know why
I feel so tongue-tied

The phrasing makes it as awesome as it is.

I try not to dig too deep into the meaning, and prefer to appreciate how he uses words rhythmically, percussively, to fill up holes or create space. He's got a natural flow and doesn't need to be emotionally transparent or blunt with what he is saying.

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...
On 7/31/2018 at 4:33 AM, devilhood said:

I try not to dig too deep into the meaning, and prefer to appreciate how he uses words rhythmically, percussively, to fill up holes or create space. He's got a natural flow and doesn't need to be emotionally transparent or blunt with what he is saying.

Yes, this is one of the many somewhat subtle aspects of the music that makes it work both for them and for any listeners!  That is, by being more percussive and abstract while simultaneously having other more direct ideas and sounds within the vocals, Thom is able to be both a back-up and lead instrumentalist for the band members!  It is very much like when both the bass and melody are played on piano, but with more options for what the second and sometimes third and fourth parts could be included!  (Even the spaces following vocal notes has an amazing effect, which is not exclusive to Radiohead but I do think that Thom really enjoys playing with this phenomenon!)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 10 months later...
On 9/19/2020 at 2:04 AM, Girl in the Purple Dress said:

Grass is green at the edge

of a bubble 

Beautiful kids 

into beautiful trouble 

Love that one, was dancing to it as I recalled it the other morning (that sounds hipster as fuck but I was thinking of music I wanted to hear & radiohead beside eras are a go-to for underplumbed depths. Plus I hated hipsters before it was cool & my budgie was nuzzling my watch, so was letting it all roll in)


     .. Beautiful trouble...

The nostalgia in that line. I always quite liked :

Run until your lungs are sore

Until you cannot feel it any more

 

But I have the softest of all spots (that's what they said) for the 2001 besides

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also why I'm even here is Nude :

You paint yourself white & fill up with noise

 

The song is just a perfect portrait of this
outdated disgusting slobman sexist mentality of objectification

One of the rare lyrics that struck me as funny & deep

I mean it fits the narrative. He jerks himself in white & unngh grumble

Yknow. That's it. There's something missing when that's all you can do about somebody you never touched.

Yes. I like that.

Paint me white

Tonight

Where there's music & there's people and they're young & alive

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...