English musician and singer for Radiohead
- Q: Does commercial success matter to you?
- "It matters. It's as much as you can ask for. The rest is bullshit."
- Q: Success is part of what you want when you start writing?
- "Jonny goes on and on about this. Anybody who claims they write for *themselves is a liar. Everyone has an audience in mind. The only reason any artist would carry on is in the faith that one day somebody would see or hear their work." source
- "The video of 'Paranoid Android' has been censored by MTV. They took all nipples out of the cartoon, but they had no problem with the scene in which a man cuts off his own arms and legs." source
- "What worries me more than anything else is the whole notion that I'm who people focus on, like it's of significance, you know? People look at me and think that it's a complete existence. What really fucks me up in the head is that basically I'm supposed to be endorsing this sort of pop star, 'Wow, lucky bastard, he's got it all' existence. What frightens me is the idea that what Radiohead does is basically packaged back to people in the form of entertainment, to play in their car stereos on their way to work.
- And that's not why I started this but then I should shut the fuck up because it's pop music and it's not anything more than that. But I got into music, because I naively thought that pop music was basically the only viable art form left, because the art world is run by a few very extremely, um, privileged people and is ultimately corrupt and barren of any context. And I thought that the pop music industry was different and I was fucking wrong, because I went to the Brits and I saw it everywhere and it's the same thing. It's a lot of women who couldn't fit in their cocktail dresses and lots of men in black ties who essentially didn't want to be there, but were. And I was there and we were all committing the same offence. All my favourite artists are people who never seem to be involved in the industry and I found myself getting involved in it, and I felt really ashamed to be there." source
- "I don't think young people are as demoralized as the media and government would like us to think. The obvious sign of that is how strong and how close personal connections are and how much people are able to build a life for themselves, despite all this stuff that's been thrown at them."
- Q: Radiohead fans tend to be extremely devoted to the band - they seem to connect with your music and ideals. What do you see as the major aspects of your music which people connect with so well?
- A: To be really truthful I don't see it myself. When we play something new, we don't know how people will react. If I show an idea to the rest of the band I'm terrified if they will respond or not. They are the same. It always amazes me how complex this remains. There was a time when we could make the correct moves and the required response. And that was the time when the shine started to fade. Do people connect with our ideals? I dont know, surely encouraging people to make informed decisions is more useful? ignorance is the biggest problem isnt it? we are no purer than anyone else, no smarter. Equally we are not little rag dolls you play with but say nothing and go back in the box when you're finished with us." source
- "The sad thing is, if an issue is laughed at and patronised by mainstream media, then it's up against it big-time. I read some journalist recently lecturing the anti-globalisation lobby, saying, 'This is the way capitalism works, all capitalism is exploitation and to make it try and do something else, it's never gonna happen.' And it's like, yeah, but where does that leave us? This is somehow God's will? All this? It's God's will that we sit in traffic? It's God's will that millions of people are gonna die this year because of some outmoded economic policies? No, it's not! It's like some deranged sacrificial altar, the high priests of the global economy holding up these millions of children each year, like (Arms aloft) 'We wish to please you! Oh Gods of free trade!' It's like... give us all a fucking break! If there is a Devil at work, then he rests in institutions and not in individuals. Because the beauty of institutions is that any individual can abdicate responsibility. The assumption that we're all utterly powerless, that's the Devil at work." 
- "I wouldn't be involved with it [pop music] if I wasn't aware that it was going to be a product. I always wanted whatever I did to end up in the high street, no matter what it was, because to me, there isn't anywhere else to go. It's pointless." source
- "We're at a time when we are being presented with undeniable changes in the global climate and fundamental issues that affect every single one of us, and it's the time we're listening to the most hokey shite on the radio and watching vacuous bullshit celebrities being vacuous bullshit celebrities and desperately trying to forget about everything. Which is fine, you know, but personally speaking, I can't do that." source
- "It annoys me how pretty my voice is...that sounds incredibly immodest, but it annoys me how polite it can sound when perhaps what I'm singing is deeply acidic." - source
- "There's nothing more boring than a rock'n'roll star, someone who has been on the road for 10 years, expecting attention wherever he goes, drinking himself stupid, who is obnoxious, incoherent, uncreative and has a massive ego. There's nothing more pointless." - source
- (on his inability to read music) "If someone lays the notes on a page in front of me, it's meaningless...because to me you can't express the rhythms properly like that. It's a very ineffective way of doing it, so I've never really bothered picking it up." source
- (about people's image of him) "I think that has a lot to do with the expression that's on my face. People are born with certain faces, like my father was born with a face that people want to hit. (laughs) source
- wish us all a safe journey if you still like us and you're not one of those people i have managed to offend by doing nothing source
- "I haven't done enough. I don't have solar panels on my house yet. I haven't sorted out the heating, my car's not a Prius, I f---ing fly all the time for my job and I hate it but at the moment I haven't really got a choice, you know, and all these things. The job I'm in is a job that wastes energy left, right and centre. It's madness." source
- "It's like a supply and demand thing. It's like 'Well, this is what they want me to do, this is what they want to hear. So I'll do more of this, cuz this is great... and they love me.' Suddenly people start giving you money as well. So then you've got money and you get used to this lifestyle. And you don't wanna take any risks 'cause they've got you by the balls, and you've got all these little things that you've bought, or you're attached to. And you start spending all this money... And that's how they get ya!" - source
- "I didn't really come into it expecting to make songs. It started just with random bits and pieces. I guess I thought there would be vocals, but I was thinking in terms of using little vocal shreds, and of making them part of the tapestry, not the main thing. But as soon as we had gone through the initial sketches, it became obvious that they could be quite direct. Nigel basically dragged me kicking and screaming toward the concept of them being actual songs." - source
- On making The Eraser.
- "You think I have the responsibilty... I have the responsibility to give the fans a good time! (nods at camera, then pauses)... that just sounds... kinky."
- "My big problem with corporate structure is this bizarre sense of loyalty you're supposed to feel -- towards what is basically a virus. It grows or dies, like any virus. And you use it for your own selfish ends." - source
- On the record industry.
- "The difference between me and Bono is that he's quite happy to go and flatter people to get what he wants and he's very good at it, but I just can't do it. I'd probably end up punching them in the face rather than shaking their hand, so it's best that I stay out of their way. I can't engage with that level of bullshit. Which is a shame, really, and in a way it would help if I could, but I just can't. I admire the fact that Bono can, and can walk away from it smelling of roses." - source
- "The thing that worries me about the computer age is the fact that people know so much about you. It's an incredible invasion of privacy. And no matter where you are in the world people can monitor you if you're using your credit card. I heard this weird rumor on the Internet about how the military is funding this great big research project and basically, they believe that in the future, the balance of power won't be determined by who has the most nuclear weapons, but by who has all the information. I'm not afraid of being taken over by computers though, because the thing is, computers cannot resist. You can always smash 'em up, and they're totally defenseless. All we need are more people with hammers." - source
- "It's basically [about] having to make a decision whether to do nothing or try to engage with it in some way, knowing that it's flawed. It's convenient to project that back on to someone personally and say they're a hypocrite. It's a lot easier to do that than actually do anything else. And yeah, that stresses me out, because I am a hypocrite. As we all are."
- "Initially when it came up I tried to be pragmatic. But Blair has no environmental credentials as far as I'm concerned. I came out of that whole period just thinking, I don't want to get involved directly, it's poison. I'll just shout my mouth off from the sidelines." - source
- On rejecting the opportunity to meet Tony Blair for a campaign to lobby government to help stop climate change.
- "I think the most important thing about music is the sense of escape."
- "I grew up under Thatcher. I grew up believing that I was fundamentally powerless. Then gradually over the years it occurred to me that this was actually a very convenient myth for the state."
- "Sometimes the nicest thing to do with a guitar is just look at it." source
- "People sometimes say we take things too seriously, but it’s the only way you’ll get anywhere. We’re not going to sit around and wait and just be happy if something turns up. We are ambitious. You have to be." (in his first-ever interview, 1991) source
- "They're dangerous people, and what's really frightening is that they don't know it, they don't see themselves as dangerous... they see the danger elsewhere. The danger is always elsewhere. How convenient." source
- "So far, this is disco." - Live performance of Everything in Its Right Place (YouTube video)
Pablo Honey (1993)Edit
- But I'm a creep
I'm a weirdo
What the hell am I doing here
I don't belong here
- I'm not a vegetable,
I will not control myself.
- I am fused, just in case I blow out. I am glued, just in case I crack out.
Everything I touch, turns to stone.
- "Blow Out"
The Bends (1995)Edit
- I want to live, breathe,
I want to be part of the human race,
- The Bends
- Drying up in conversation,
You will be the one who cannot talk,
All your insides fall to pieces,
You just sit there wishing you could still make love.
- High and Dry
- Her green plastic watering can
For a fake Chinese rubber plant
In the fake plastic earth.
- Fake Plastic Trees
- He used to do surgery
On girls in the eighties,
But gravity always wins.
- Fake Plastic Trees
- She looks like the real thing,
She tastes like the real thing,
My fake plastic love.
But I can't help the feeling,
I could blow through the ceiling
If I just turned and ran.
- Fake Plastic Trees
- You do it to yourself, you do,
And that's why it really hurts,
Is you do it to yourself, just you,
You and no-one else,
You do it to yourself.
- Rows of houses, all bearing down on me,
I can feel their blue hands touching me,
All these things into position,
All these things we'll one day swallow whole.
And fade out again,
And fade out...
- Street Spirit (Fade Out)
- Immerse your soul in love
- Street Spirit (Fade Out)
OK Computer (1997)Edit
- In an interstellar burst
I am back to save the universe
- In a fast German car
I'm amazed that I survived
An airbag saved my life
- Ambition makes you look pretty ugly
Kicking and squealing gucci little piggy
- God loves his children
- "Paranoid Android"
- I live in a town, where you can't smell a thing
You watch your feet, for cracks in the pavement
- "Subterranean Homesick Alien"
- Far up above, aliens hover
Making home movies for the folks back home
Of all these weird creatures that lock up their spirits
Drill holes in themselves and live for their secrets
- "Subterranean Homesick Alien"
- And you can laugh
A spineless laugh
We hope your rules and wisdom choke you
And now we are one
In everlasting peace
We hope that you choke, that you choke
- "Exit Music (For a Film)"
- Karma police
I've given all I can
It's not enough
I've given all I can
But we're still on the payroll
- For a minute there
I lost myself
- "Karma Police"
- At a better pace
Slower and more calculated
No chance of escape
- "Fitter Happier"
- Dont get sentimental, It always ends up drivel.
- "Let Down"
- When I go forwards, you go backwards
And somewhere we will meet
- I'll take a quiet life
And a handshake of carbon monoxide
And no alarms and no surprises
- "No Surprises"
- The head of state
Has called for me by name
But I don't have time for him
It's gonna be a glorious day
I feel my luck could change
Kid A (2000)Edit
- Yesterday I woke up sucking a lemon
- What was that you tried to say?
- "Everything In Its Right Place"
- Everyone has got the fear
It's holding on
- "The National Anthem"
- That there
That's not me
Where I please
I walk through walls
I float down the Liffey
- I'm not here
This isn't happening
- "How to Disappear Completely
- We're not scare-mongering
This is really happening
- Cut the kids in half
- "Morning Bell"
- Jumped in the river, what did I see?
Black-eyed angels swam with me
A moonful of stars and astral cars
And all the figures I used to see
All my lovers were there with me
All my past and futures
And we all went to heaven in a little row boat
There was nothing to fear and nothing to doubt
- "Pyramid Song"
- So knives out
Catch the mouse
Squash his head
Put him in the pot
- Knives Out
- While you make pretty speeches
I'm being cut to shreds
You feed me to the lions
A delicate balance
- "Like Spinning Plates"
Hail to the Thief (2003)Edit
- It's the devil's way now
There is no way out
You can scream and you can shout
It is too late now
- In pitch dark I go walkin' in your landscape
Broken branches trip me as I speak
Just 'cause you feel it doesn’t mean it’s there
- We are accidents waiting
Waiting to happen
- "There There"
- And I'm sorry for us
The dinosaurs roam the earth
The sky turns green
- "Where I End and You Begin"
- Are you hungry?
Are you sick?
Are you begging for a break?
Are you sweet?
Are you fresh?
Are you strung up by the wrists?
- "We Suck Young Blood"
- Murderers, you're murderers
We are not the same as you
- "The Gloaming"
- I keep the wolf from the door
But he calls me up
Calls me on the phone
Tells me all the ways that he's gonna mess me up
Steal all my children
If I don't pay the ransom
And I'll never see 'em again
If I squeal to the cops
- "A Wolf at the Door"
The Eraser (2006)Edit
- The more you try to erase me
The more, the more
The more that I appear
- "The Eraser"
- Time is running out for us
But you just move the hands upon the clock
You throw coins in the wishing well
You just move your hands upon the wall
- "The Clock"
- One little leak becomes a lake,
Says the tiny voice in my earpiece
- "And It Rained All Night"
- You cannot kickstart a dead horse
- "Black Swan"
- Don't walk the plank like I did
You will be dispensed with
When you've become
- I can't take their pressure
No one cares if you live or die
They just want me gone
They want me gone
- Did I fall or was I pushed?
Did I fall or was I pushed?
And where's the blood?
- "Harrowdown Hill"
In Rainbows (2007)Edit
- How come I end up where I started?
How come I end up where I went wrong?
- 15 Step
- You used to be alright
- 15 Step
- I have no idea what I am talking about
I'm trapped in this body and can't get out
- Don't get any big ideas,
They're not gonna happen.
- You'll go to hell for what your dirty mind is thinking.
- I'm an animal trapped in your hot car.
- All I Need
- I don't want to be your friend,
I just want to be your lover.
- House of Cards
- You are my centre when I spin away.
The King of Limbs (2011)Edit
- Open your mouth wide
A universal sigh
- You've got some nerve, coming here
- Morning Mr. Magpie
- I'm such a tease and you're such a flirt
- Little by Little
- Routines and schedules
A drug that'll kill you
- Little by Little
A Moon Shaped Pool (2016)Edit
- Avoid all eye contact
Do not react
Shoot the messengers
This is a low-flying panic attack
- Burn the Witch
- Different types of love
- Desert Island Disk
- We are of the earth,
To her we do return
- The Numbers
- I'm not living,
I'm just killing time
- True Love Waits
Quotes about Thom YorkeEdit
- " Yorke's lyrics make me want to give up. I could never in my wildest dreams find something as beautiful as they find for a single song — let alone album after album."
-Dave Matthews