Thom Yorke's Atoms for Peace, lyrics + interpretation

RSS
Compartir

7 Jul 2006, 13:57

Yorke is known for not releasing official lyrics for his work, so presenting for your entertainment, lyrics (as accurately as I can make them) and an interpretation:

--------------------------------------------------------------
No more going to the dark side with your flying saucer eyes
No more falling down a wormhole that I have to pull you out

The wriggling, twiggling worm inside devours from the inside out
No more talk about the old days
It's time for something great

I want you to get out
And make it work

So many allies
So many allies
So many allies
So many allies
So feel the love come off of them
And take me in your arms

Peel all of your layers off
I want to eat your artichoke heart
No more leaky holes in your brain
And no false starts

I wanna get out
And make it work

So many allies
So many allies
So many allies
So many allies
So feel the love come off of them
And take me in your arms

I wanna get out
And make it work

I want you to get out
And make it work

It'll be ok
--------------------------------------------------------------

First off, the title of the song.

Atoms for Peace was a presidential address given to the United Nations by Dwight Eisenhower in 1953.

In short, the speech focused on the peaceful uses of atomic energy (remember this speech was given during the early phase of the Cold War). Its purpose was to "convey a spirit of comfort to a terrified world" after this energy was used for such massively destructive purposes in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

{Transcript of Eisenhower's Speech to the United Nations' General Assembly: http://www.eisenhower.archives.gov/atoms.htm}

Now that we have the title out of the way.. I believe this song is a personal one for Thom.

I believe he is confronting someone he loves.

Thom has realized that this person has come to feel alone, depressed, and has chosen to escape their current reality, probably with the help of drugs.

This friend has become dissociative, and only thinks back on their past, no longer concered with their future.


No more going to the dark side with your flying saucer eyes


If you've ever been a tripsitter, you know how it is to comfort someone in the grips of a hallucinogenic trip.

Their pupils become very dialated (large and black), much like the appearance of a flying saucer.


No more falling down a wormhole that I have to pull you out


Someone tripping can lose all concept of space and time, theoretically similar to a space wormhole (Stephen Hawking describes a wormhole as a thin tube of space-time connecting distant regions of the universe that could provide the possibility of time travel).

Thom is trying to bring this friend 'back to Earth' by waking them up and pulling them out of the hole they've dug for themselves.


The wriggling, twiggling worm inside devours from the inside out


The line about the "wriggling, twiggling worm" was added to the song more for effect than anything. Thom added this line right after the 'wormhole' lyric, making the wormhole almost as literal as it is figurative.


No more talk about the old days
It's time for something great

I want you to get out
And make it work

So many allies
So many allies
So many allies
So many allies
So feel the love come off of them
And take me in your arms


The only comment I wanted to make is his use of the word "allies" as I suspect this is also a reference to Eisenhower's presidential address, as the president mentioned that Canada, Great Britain and France were all allies in the quest for peaceful uses of atomic energy.

As I've already mentioned, the purpose of this speech was to "convey a spirit of comfort to a terrified world" after atomic energy had been used for such atrocious acts merely years earlier in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.


Peel all of your layers off
I want to eat your artichoke heart


Thom cares about this friend a lot!

If you've never seen an artichoke heart, they sort of look like a pussy. :)

{Artichoke heart image - http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/images/artichokeheart.jpg}

{Note: I've gotta give credit to my girlfriend on this one, she spotted the pussy thing pretty quickly.}


No more leaky holes in your brain
And no false starts

I wanna get out
And make it work


A common fear about some hallucinogenic drugs is the idea that they will cause toxic substances to attack your brain, causing holes and other nonsense.

Depending on chemicals for peace of mind and happiness is addiction. Thom wants this person to stop their abuse.

He doesn't want to hear about anymore half-assed attempts to change their lifestyle; he only wants them to get out and make it work, damnit.

To summarize, Thom has created a parallelism between Eisenhower's calming speech to a frightened world, and Thom's own calming speech to his friend, as they are both dealing with chemicals as a means for peaceful solutions.

The rest of the lyrics are self-explanatory.

Thank you.

Thom Yorke

Comentarios

  • Smizzle

    I don't care what you say, darlin. This is obsession.

    7 Jul 2006, 15:14
  • TomF006

    Nice analysis. Got the artichoke heart bit wrong though. An artichoke heart is supposedly really nice, but it needs to be painstakingly removed from the rest of the artichoke, which is horrible. This metaphor is about getting past the bad bits to the persons sweet inner core. Not a clumsy sexual metaphor. :)

    11 Jul 2006, 19:56
  • boringmike

    I hadn't considered it from that perspective, very cool. Sounds like a double entendre to me.

    13 Jul 2006, 2:52
  • TomF006

    Doesn't sound much like yorke to me, postcard humour.

    16 Jul 2006, 2:38
  • karmablue

    Interesting interpretation. :)

    21 Jul 2006, 17:31
  • SolidFox

    I really don't think Thom gives much meaning to each individual line, but the passage as a whole. Thom is all about the hopelessness. This sounds like a love song to me. Thom thinks love is hopeless. I find myself in a responsible position within a reputable institution, and my evening arrival at home is welcomed by my beautiful wife. We share many interests, and spend pleasantly frequent hours discussing cultural matters. Our house is more than adequate for our needs, although we both ruefully agree that if we were ever to have children a relocation could be in order. But in the meantime we enjoy our life together. One evening I am suddenly conscious of a noise from the kitchen. I ask my wife to pause the video, and pace uneasily towards the door that leads to it. I walk softly in my stockinged feet towards the door. I pick up an empty wine bottle and slowly turn the handle. I feel more animal than human, more ready to deal with an intruder than I ever have before. I burst open the door, the neck of my wine bottle in my clenched fist. There is nobody in the kitchen. I give the back yard a cursory check, but the flat feeling I have tells me that nothing will be there. Determined to make something of my foolishness, I pointlessly grate some edam cheese. I almost continue the grating until my fingers are bleeding, but I decide that it would be a futile gesture. I return to the living room for the rest of the video, leaving the edam to curl and atrophy in the kitchen.

    29 Jul 2006, 1:36
  • TomF006

    what the hell was that?

    6 Ago 2006, 13:19
  • boringmike

    lol

    6 Ago 2006, 23:01
  • SolidFox

    Ha, that was one of Thom's many (twisted) stories posted on his Slowly Downward website. You guys should check them out, well worth the read and a great look into the mind of that crazy genius known as Thom Yorke. :)

    8 Ago 2006, 8:46
  • nibbleyourears

    ALLIES? I heard are lies. Hm. Yours makes more sense, maybe.

    13 Ago 2006, 23:07
  • FitzMondo

    The song to me looks like more semi-meaningful affective rambling, a position that isn't helped by the fact that it's rock music so its conveyance of meaning or emotion is already limited.

    16 Ago 2006, 18:29
  • gandydancer

    it's lies. and slowly downward is stanley, too. :D

    10 Nov 2006, 20:07
  • AverageHero

    Yeah I heard it was lies too, and the pussy thing was a bit out there. :)

    6 Ene 2008, 9:04
  • boringmike

    Looking back, I was pretty high when I wrote this back in July. Eh, I'll still stick by it though. :P

    6 Ene 2008, 10:36
  • nnovember6

    I'm just dumbfounded... Your explanation is really shocking, thanks a lot!

    12 Sep 2012, 18:27
Ver todos (16)
Dejar un comentario. Entra en Last.fm o regístrate (es gratis).