Thom Yorke

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Thomas Edward Yorke (born October 7, 1968 in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, England) is a musician and the lead singer of the English rock band 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
  • "Alternative rock needs bludgeoning to death on a big stick and left on a bridge to warn passers-by." 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." source
  • 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 soemthing 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." source
  • "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
  • "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 cuz 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." - source
  • "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." - source
  • "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." source
  • "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


Pablo Honey (1993)

  • But I'm a creep
    I'm a weirdo
    What the hell am I doing here
    I don't belong here
    • "Creep"

The Bends (1995)

  • I want to live, breathe
    I want to be part of the human race
    • "The Bends"
  • He used to do surgery
    On girls in the eighties
    But gravity always wins
  • 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"
  • 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
  • Immerse your soul in love
    • "Street Spirit (Fade Out)"

OK Computer (1997)

  • 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
    • "Airbag"
  • Ambition makes you look pretty ugly
    Kicking and squealing gucci little piggy
    • "Paranoid Android"
  • 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
    • "Electioneering"
  • 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
    • "Lucky"

Kid A (2000)

  • What was that you tried to say?
    • "Everything In Its Right Place"
  • Everyone has got the fear
    It's holding on
    Holding on
    • "The National Anthem"
  • That there
    That's not me
    I go
    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
    • "Idioteque"

Amnesiac (2001)

  • 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"
  • 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)

  • It's the devil's way now
    There is no way out
    You can scream and you can shout
    It is too late now
    • "2+2=5"
  • 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"
  • 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"
  • 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)

  • 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
    For us
    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"
  • 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)

  • How come I end up where I started
    How come I end up where I went wrong?
  • You used to be alright
    What happened?
    • "15 Step"

  • I have no idea what I am talking about
    I'm trapped in this body and can't get out
    • "Bodysnachers"

  • You'll go to hell for what your dirty mind is thinking
    • "Nude"

  • You are my center when i spin away
    • "Videotape"


  • "I think we're entering a very dangerous time. The West has set itself up, decided it's in charge, not for good intentions, not for the benefit of mankind. The people in charge, globally, are maniacs. They are maniacs, and unless we do something about it these people are going to deprive us of a future. And I know I'm paranoid and neurotic, I've made a career out of it. Hoorah. Most people don't even have time to think about it. People who watch MTV don't think about it, I don't have time to think about it. Luckily, I'm paranoid and neurotic, so I make the time."
  • "You will never make friends unless you like everyone genuinely. Oh well, I'm fucked then aren't I?"
  • "The others (Radiohead) were all brought up to be polite. I wasn't."
  • "They didn´t let us play at the Grammy awards cause they thought we weren´t good for the ratings. We were so happy man..."
  • "I'm not afraid of computers taking over the world. They're just sitting there. I can hit them with a two by four"
  • "I can be very drunk in a club in Oxford on a Monday night and some guy comes up to you and buys you a drink and says that the last record you made changed his life. That means something."
  • "It's why we play it towards the end of our sets. It drains me, and it shakes me, and hurts like hell everytime I play it, looking out at thousands of people cheering and smiling, oblivious to the tragedy of it's meaning, like when you're going to have your dog put down and it's wagging it's tail on the way there. That's what they all look like, and it breaks my heart.
  • "I wish that song hadn't picked us as its catalysts, and so I don't claim it. It asks too much. (very long pause). I didn't write that song." - on Street Spirit (Fade Out)
  • "So far, this is disco." - Live performance of Everything in Its Right Place (YouTube video)
  • "Radiohead run like the UN, and I'm America."
  • "They're a joke aren't they? It's just lots of middle class people applauding a bunch of guys who act stupid and write really primitive music. Then people say 'oh it's so honest" Couldn't of put it any better." - On the band Oasis.

  • "It's always confused the living shit out of me that people can shag to our music. This one girl comes up to me, she shags to Paranoid Android. How?"
  • (When told that many new bands are making a name for themselves by just simply copying radioheads first three albums) "Good luck with Kid A!"

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