Don’t get any big ideas
they’re not gonna happen
You paint yourself white
and feel up with noise
but there’ll be something missing
Now that you’ve found it, it’s gone
Now that you feel it, you don’t
You’ve gone off the rails
So don’t get any big ideas
they’re not going to happen
You’ll go to hell for what your dirty mind is thinking
Released: October 10, 2007 digitally, December 3, 2007 CD & Vinyl
Found on: In Rainbows
“Nude” is the third track on the 2007 album In Rainbows. The song was released as the second single from In Rainbows on 31 March 2008. “Nude” was written in 1997, and the band began to perform it live soon after. However, a recording was not included on any Radiohead album until 10 years later. In April 2008 “Nude” became their most successful single on the Billboard Hot 100 since “Creep” in 1993.
It is not known exactly when Thom Yorke penned “Nude”, but a version of the song was recorded during sessions with producer Nigel Godrich that would eventually produce OK Computer, Radiohead’s third LP. Though this recording was originally hailed as a “great success” by members of the band, they eventually soured towards it. A few more attempts were made to record “Nude” for inclusion on OK Computer, but the album did not feature the song.The earliest known recordings of the song are sound checks from the OK Computer tour, recorded during September 1997. They feature a slightly different chord progression in the chorus and a different vocal melody, along with some different lyrics. The first time fans were treated to a live performance of the song was during the OK Computer tour on January 23, 1998 in Tokyo, Japan, when Thom Yorke delivered a solo acoustic rendition as an encore. On March 29, 1998, at Fair Park Music Hall in Dallas, Texas, Radiohead debuted a full-band arrangement of “Nude” that featured Thom Yorke on Fender Rhodes and guitarist Jonny Greenwood on Hammond organ (or, more precisely, the Hammond XB-2, a Hammond synth, which can also be heard on early live versions of “Paranoid Android” and “Let Down”). It became known as “Big Ideas”, with the parenthetical “(Don’t Get Any)” often added. Apparently this title was at the suggestion of fans, as the song officially had no title yet, but appeared on some setlists as “Nude” or “Neut”. In the 1998 documentary Meeting People is Easy, singer Thom Yorke joked to journalist Matt Pinfield that the full title was actually supposed to be “Your Home Is At Risk If You Do Not Keep Up Repayments”. A typical version of the song from this period is heard near the close of that film, in a live performance (from April 17, 1998, at Radio City Music Hall in New York City) and sound check. Bootlegs of performances of “Nude” from 1998 are highly valued by Radiohead fans.
After 1998, the band initially planned the track for their next album Kid A (2000), but scrapped efforts to record it; the song did not appear on the band’s next two albums, either. During this period, it was performed only rarely, notably on request at a 2002 concert in Salamanca, but usually by Yorke in solo acoustic versions. Band members professed admiration for the song but said they had not figured out the best way to approach it in the studio.
In 2005, the band began new recording sessions with Mark Stent and posted a list of songs they were working on, including the now-officially titled “Nude”, on their blog, Dead Air Space. This was confirmed in early 2006, when the band revealed that they had been recording “Nude” with a string quartet, and that a new string arrangement had been written by Jonny Greenwood. In June 2006, Yorke and Greenwood said in interviews that the song was effectively finished and on tape in a version they were very satisfied with, barring minor adjustments. After their tour, the band returned to the studio in autumn 2006 to continue recording sessions, this time without Stent, but with their longtime producer Nigel Godrich. On the band’s summer 2006 tour to introduce their new material, the new version of “Nude” was played at nearly every concert. Yet the finished version of the song on In Rainbows differs from any previous version, as although it retains most of its lyrics, it replaces its organ or keyboard-driven state with a dub-influenced bass line and rhythm. The chorus is now picked on electric guitar, and the song features Yorke’s vocal of the original Hammond organ melody at the end of the song.
To promote the release of the single, the band began a competition for fans to create their own remixes of the song, from the individual tracks of guitar, drums, bass, vocals and strings. These were made available to download, via iTunes, on April 1, 2008, with all entries available to listen to at the remix website. A music video for the song, featuring all band members in slow motion, was made by comedian Adam Buxton and director Garth Jennings for their “Scotch Mist” webcast.
Thom Yorke told Mojo magazine February 2008 how singing this song reflects a change in his attitude towards his vocal abilities: “Ten years ago, when we first had the song, I didn’t enjoy singing it because it was too feminine, too high. It made me feel uncomfortable. Now I enjoy it exactly for that reason – because it is a bit uncomfortable, a bit out of my range, and it’s really difficult to do. And it brings something out in me.”
The main strings section and vocal accompaniment is a musical palindrome.
The song begins with the reverb from “Subterranean Homesick Alien.”
Early versions of “Nude” included this verse:
She stands stark naked and she beckons you to bed
don’t go, you’ll only want to come back again