you never wash up after yourself
by Davide Ferrario

This song is a b-side (my iron lung EP)
I think that this lyric is one of the most beautiful in radiohead's songs.


1 I must get out once in a while

2 Everything's starting to die

3 Dust settles

4 Worms dig

5 Spiders crawl all over the bed

6 Must get out once in a while

7 i eat all day and now im fat

8 yesterday's meal is huggin the plates

9 you never wash up after yourself


I think that this song is based on a love story (!) that is going bad.

When he starts he say that he wants to get out, to forget what is going bad, even if it's hard to forgive... the story is starting to die.. all the time we have lose to be together is lose forever... 

and dust settles means that she isn't going to meet him.. and she don't want to see him...

Worms dig... people dig in... always.. people must stop asking to know other's state of mind... 

And the spiders crawl over the bed, because he can't sleep, he don't use the bed now.... (catastrofic?) He eats all day... eats sadness and poison, i think, the fat man symbolize a not happy man, an useless man. Yesterday's meal are the memories that are still hugging him, and make himself ugly.

You never wash up after yourself means that she don't care about him, when she have finish to use him... she leaves him alone, and she won't talk with him, just for understanding what's happened.....

By Martin Strauch

The song is a very short piece, it looks like a fragment, an impression translated into lyrics and music but it is extensive in content though. It's just short and to the point a well done depiction of lethargy, a passive behaviour amounting to that kind of androidism as talked about in the song about the paranoid one. Although you can easily broaden the meaning to a more general sense, you should, however, not forget about the spontaneity in the process of creating that is fundamental for understanding. Spontaneity is clearly visible in that song through the rather simple guitar accompaniment, the briefness of the whole, that represents just what came to the songwriter's mind in that moment and not least through the fact that it is a minor b-side track taken only once and taken live, not being an elaborated studio version.

Both parts of the song (- you may call them stanzas -) begin with the line 'i must get out once in a while' which is simply the narrator realizing his state of being lethargic and his will to end this by getting 'outta here'. However, it sounds more like resignation, which agrees with the tone of the whole, concluding to something like 'i'd be better off if i got out, but i can't.'

In the first part the image of death is employed to illustrate this. The dust, the worms and the spiders go well together in that context: all this would never happen to a living being, so the one being talked of metaphorically is dead, is cold. Whatever you may associate with that little adjective, it could be part of the meaning...

The dominating image of the second part is consumption, to be seen in gluttony ('i eat all day and now i'm fat'), in living superficially and in not thinking. Consumption is something passive and thus closely conncected to lethargy.

Ultimately it can be said about the song that it deals with lethargy which could be caused by consumer society, depriving the individual of its freedom by molding it into a passive consumer [- that seems to be a Radiohead key-note]. Unfortunately you can't get rid of it (- the evil, you may think or not - ) because being lethargic 'you never wash up after yourself', you don't remove the leftovers of yesterday's consumption (the 'meal [still] hugging the plates') and you are stuck to that society which makes you lethargic, even when realising that you 'must get out once in a while.' However, always when reading quite a lot into a rather small text you should be careful, trying to avoid to be on the wrong track. So, everybody should decide on his/her own whether the extended meaning besides the songwriter's personal feeling of lethargy is really contained in the piece. It is at least, as I do think, a good guess...


To me the song is about a character who has shut himself off from the world(The character could be a female as well, it's really a unisexual character, but for the sake of space, I'll use He, and His). He has severed his ties from the outside world and all contact with people. Something traumatic has happened to him. Maybe his girlfriend (boyfriend) left him? He sees it as his fault. He's is thoughroughly disgusted in himself. "How could she leave me when I need her most???" He hates to look at himself in the mirror. "She left because I am unbearable." He stops doing anything but just sitting there, sulking. His apartment starts getting all dirty from lack of care. Dust on everything, spiders, flowers and such dying(and his resolve), unwashed plates(with food still on them from yesterdays meal.) But there is slight hope in it : "I must get out once in a while." He wants to overcome, but it will take time. This was a hard loss. The song ends "You never wash up after yourself" which I think was one of her (many)complaints towards him. He reflects on the condition of his apartment as he is pondering her having said that. All throughout the song Yorke uses the unsettling images to invoke feelings of disgust from the listener. Spiders? Dust? Worms?!? They make you feel disgusted. That is what he wants you to feel. To relate to the character and his feelings about himself. What better way to invoke those feelings? And to relate to how he is feeling? Take those feelings and add the emptiness of having been left by the love of your life and point them inwards, to yourself, you have now connected to the song. If that is what he was getting at, he's fucking brilliant(which he is whether or not that was what he was getting at...). Conveying all that desperation for acceptance into but eight lines( I see the 'dust settles, the worms dig' as one line..). And all you have to do is hear his tortured voice as he sang the words.......If that's not where he was going with it then I'm just a poor sod who's just wasted a lot of words. Still though...I can just see him just sitting there staring at a broken picture of her at the kitchen one can convey isolation and being alone like him just sitting there pathetically.......Does that make any sense at all?
By Emily

This song has a very personal meaning for me. There was a time when all I could do was lie in my bed and rot my brain with TV and junk food. One time while I was watching a particuarly good show and eating particularly good junk food, this huge spider crawled up my leg. I jumped up and threw it on my bed because I harbor a larger than life fear of spiders and proceeded to have an enourmous nervous breakdown. Which brings us to my point, this song means to me that when someone is numbed by all the silly routines of daily life, it takes a lot to get you off your ass. And according to the song, sometimes everything is so much that nothing can move you, and you can't even brush a spider off the bed.