Meaning of Paranoid Android by Radiohead & The Story Behind

How does an unsuccessful trip to a bar end for an ordinary person? A severe hangover, a black eye, an unplanned parting with an excessively large sum of money, trouble with the police – there are a lot of options, but you can only benefit from them in terms of experience gained. But Thom Yorke, after an unpleasant visit to a pub, wrote the track Paranoid Android, one of the main hits of the rock band Radiohead.

Here is how it was…

The story of the song Paranoid Android by Radiohead

One day, Tom decided to wander around the bars of Los Angeles and ran into a crowd of crazy fans who were ready to literally tear the famous musician into souvenirs:

The people I saw that night looked like demons from another planet. Everyone was trying to get something from me. It seemed to me that my “I” was weakening in that situation, but at the same time, I completely and completely felt myself a part of it, as if it all had to collapse any minute.

York especially remembered a visitor with a crazy look:

There was an expression in that woman’s eyes that I had never seen before… Because of it, I couldn’t sleep that night.

Meaning of Paranoid Android song

The eerie experience formed the basis of the lyrics of the song Paranoid Android, written with the participation of other Radiohead musicians. Here is how Tom tried to explain the main idea of ​​the composition:

It’s about how you stand before God, I don’t know. Actually, it happened one night. We had been rehearsing the song for months, but the words came to me at five o’clock that morning. I was trying to sleep when I literally heard voices that didn’t want to leave me alone. These were the voices of the people heard earlier in the bar. Turns out it was a notorious place frequented by cocaine drinkers, but I didn’t know that. Basically, it’s just about chaos, chaos, absolutely shitty chaos.

The title of the track was borrowed from Radiohead’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Recall that one of the heroes of the work was a paranoid robot Marvin (Marvin the Paranoid Android).

Thom Yorke says:

[Name] was chosen as a joke. Like, oh, I’m so depressed! I found it wonderful. This is how people would like to see me. And that’s where everything personal in the song ends. Everything else in it is not personal at all.

Jam!, 2008

Recording and release

Paranoid Android brings together snippets of several songs written by various members of the band. The idea was partly inspired by the Beatles’ track Happiness Is a Warm Gun, created in a similar way.

Here is what the musicians had to say about the studio work on the song.

Thom Yorke:

It’s basically an excuse to tie together a bunch of unfinished songs, Abbey Road style. It’s Radiohead drunk as hell at a party. I wasn’t there when everything was glued together. I was sent to sleep. What is it all about? Fall of the Roman Empire.

Select, 1992

Johnny Greenwood:

We were in Bath recording at St. Catherine’s Court [особняк Тюдоров]. We drank and then started playing drums, based on a drum loop that Phil came up with. She started with him. We had previously rehearsed an early version of the song, played it on tour with Alanis Morissette, but it was clearly not well received. It originally had a ten-minute organ part at the end, which we ended up throwing away, replacing it with a “rain” section. Was this decision the right one? I think so, but sometimes I wish it wasn’t psychedelic and patchouli-scented organ frenzy.

NME, 2011

Colin Greenwood:

[Мы] seemed to be irresponsible schoolchildren who… were naughty, because no one makes a song that is six and a half minutes long with all these transitions. This is ridiculous.

Exit Music: The Radiohead Story, Mac Randall

Ed O’Brien:

We wanted to cross between Bohemian Rhapsody Queen and The Pixies. No, it didn’t become the “Bohemian Rhapsody” of the nineties. For this, it is not complex enough and too stressful. This is the song we played for our friends when they wanted to know how the new album would sound a long time ago. Imagine how they thought: “If this is a new single, what will everything else be like?”

Humo, 1997

Song Achievements

In May 1997, Paranoid Android was released as the first single from OK Computer. It climbed to number three on the UK Singles Chart.

The song was included on the compilation album Radiohead: The Best of (2008).

Video of Paranoid Android

The animated video for the song Paranoid Android was directed by Magnus Carlsson.

Interesting Facts

  • The castle where Paranoid Android was recorded is owned by actress Jane Seymour.
  • In the US, MTV aired the clip in a censored version.
  • The song is included in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Paranoid Android Lyrics by Radiohead

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!

Lyrics of Paranoid Android by Radiohead Alternate

Please can you stop the noise
I’m trying to get some rest
From the voices of unborn chickens in my head
What’s this?
(Maybe I’m paranoid, but not an android)
What’s this?
(Maybe I’m paranoid, but not an android)

When I become king, you will be the first to the wall
With my opinion that doesn’t matter
What’s this?
(Maybe I’m paranoid, but not an android)
What’s this?
(Maybe I’m paranoid, but not an android)

Ambition makes you look very ugly
Kicking and squealing piggy in Gucci
Do not you remember,
Do not you remember
Why don’t you remember my name?
Head off his shoulders
Head off his shoulders
Why don’t you remember my name?
I think he remembers…

It’s raining, it’s raining
Come on, rain, pour on me
From a great height
From great heights… heights…
It’s raining, it’s raining
Come on, rain, pour on me
From a great height
From great heights… heights…
It’s raining, it’s raining
Come on, rain, pour on me

Enough sir
It’s time for you to leave behind
Pigskin creak,
Dust and screams
yuppie community,
Panic, vomit
Panic, vomit
God loves his children
God loves his children, yes!

Song quote

…just a joke, a joke, a couple of evenings we spent together and put together different passages.

Colin Greenwood, Channel V, 1998

…if you can have love to this [song] you are f***ing weird.

Thom Yorke

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