Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thom Yorke, Master Lyricist

Since a certain percentage of this blog is devoted to my favorite band on earth, I thought it was time for another post about them. What has been on the Radiohead part of my mind lately is how amazing their lyrics can be. This can all be credited to Thom, as he writes them all (the only exception I have been made aware of is "The Tourist" written entirely by Jonny Greenwood) -good song, but will not be part of this post today. I am going to pick out a few songs that have caught my attention as being particularly good lyricly, display their lyrics, and hopefully I'll have the song if you would like to listen to it too, since the music adds to the atmosphere of the lyrics and makes them richer. I am aware that some of you could probably care less, but I think some people that read this blog may have some interest at least. If not, well, skip it I GUESS, but perhaps some of you are curious as to why this group has captivated me so completely, and if you know Emily, you should know Radiohead. I think I will make this a series, with a new topic every time.

True Love Waits
from the album I Might Be Wrong (A Live album)

I'll drown my beliefs
To have you be in peace
I'll dress like your niece
To wash your swollen feet

Just don't leave
Don't leave

I'm not living
I'm just killing time
Your tiny hands
Your crazy kitten smile

Just don't leave
Don't leave

And true love waits
In haunted attics
And true love lives
On lollipops and crisps

Just don't leave
Don't leave

Just don't leave
Don't leave






Like Spinning Plates
from the album
Amnesiac

While you make pretty speeches,
I'm being cut to shreds.
You feed me to the lions,
a delicate balance

When this just feels like spinning plates.
I'm living in cloud cuckoo land.
And this just feels like spinning plates
Our bodies floating down the muddy river.

I added two versions of this song, because they are drastically different. The first is the studio version, where they used a lot of artistic license you could say, the song sounds like he recorded the lyrics backwards and replayed it. I KNOW the music is backwards, it is really cool and different, but the second version is how they play it live and I think it actually is beauty incarnate (plus the second version, you can actually hear what he is singing).





Scatterbrain
from the album Hail to the Thief

I'm walking out in a force ten gale.
birds thrown around, bullets for hail.
the roof is pulling off by its fingernails.
your voice is rapping on my window sill

yesterday's headlines blown by the wind.
yesterday's people end up scatterbrain.
then any fool can easy pick a hole. (I only wish I could fall in)
a moving target in a firing range.

somewhere I'm not
scatterbrain.
somewhere I'm not
scatterbrain.
lightning fuse
powercut.
scatterbrain

I find this song to be their most blatantly poetic song




Paranoid Android
from the album
OK Computer

Please could you stop the noise, I'm trying to get some rest
From all the unborn chicken voices in my head
What's that...? (I may be paranoid, but not an android)
What's that...? (I may be paranoid, but not an android)

When I am king, you will be first against the wall
With your opinion which is of no consequence at all
What's that...? (I may be paranoid, but no android)
What's that...? (I may be paranoid, but no android)

Ambition makes you look pretty ugly
Kicking and squealing Gucci little piggy
You don't remember
You don't remember
Why don't you remember my name?
Off with his head, man
Off with his head, man
Why don't you remember my name?
I guess he does....

Rain down, rain down
Come on rain down on me
From a great height
From a great height... height...
Rain down, rain down
Come on rain down on me
From a great height
From a great height... height...
Rain down, rain down
Come on rain down on me

That's it, sir
You're leaving
The crackle of pigskin
The dust and the screaming
The yuppies networking
The panic, the vomit
The panic, the vomit
God loves his children, God loves his children, yeah!

I have long hailed this song as being a masterpiece in lyrics. It's a masterpiece in many other ways too, but this post is about lyrics and I couldn't write it without adding this one.





*****Update*****
I cut out one song in my final cut and have regretted it all day.
Therefore I am adding it now.

Let Down
from the album OK Computer


Transport, motorways and tramlines,
starting and then stopping,
taking off and landing,
the emptiest of feelings,
disappointed people, clinging on to bottles,
and when it comes it's so, so, disappointing.

Let down and hanging around,
crushed like a bug in the ground.
Let down and hanging around.

Shell smashed, juices flowing
wings twitch, legs are going,
don't get sentimental, it always ends up drivel.
One day, I'm gonna grow wings,
a chemical reaction,
hysterical and useless
hysterical and

let down and hanging around,
crushed like a bug in the ground.
Let down and hanging around.

Let down,
Let down,
Let down.

You know, you know where you are with,
you know where you are with,
floor collapsing, falling, bouncing back
and one day, I'm gonna grow wings,
a chemical reaction,
hysterical and useless
hysterical and

let down and hanging around,
crushed like a bug in the ground.
Let down and hanging around.

I just love the feeling of this song and the boredom that is portrayed
with commuting day after day, and I do also love the references to the squished bug feelings.








Well, there are a few examples (painfully few, it was really hard to
narrow down, as the amount of amazing lyrics this man has written
is never ending) but I tried to limit myself.




4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Again, I'm inspired by your love for Radiohead. However, this isn't about that. Matt and I stumbled upon your link leading to "Men who look like old lesbians" and almost died laughing. So thank you for that laugh.

Love B

Emily said...

Ah, Men Who Look Like Old lesbians, I was wondering when someone would discover that link. I added it a few months ago. Just the title of the blog makes me giggle. Glad you guys got a laugh.

oystein said...

brilliant, im a big fan of radiohead too,ilove the themes thom writes about(modern alienation, commercialism, globalism etc..)
im also pretty sure he says nurse instead of niece, in the third line of true love awaits, also, i could be wrong:P

Emily said...

Thanks for writing Oystein, it's ALWAYS nice to hear from a fellow Radiohead lover.
I also love their themes, I like how you have to interpret the meanings, they aren't exactly blatant, nor are they subtle. I also enjoy trying to figure out the themes of the individual albums as a whole. Pretty cool and very brilliant!
About the nurse/niece lyric, you could be right, I got my song lyric information from the fan site greenplastic.com (my favorite!) now I'm curious.... but I guess It's nothing at all
nothing at all.
Ps I tried to look at your site, but I don't read- what is that? Swedish?

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