Radiohead Lyrics


You can’t take it with you
Dancing for your pleasure

You are not to blame for
Bittersweet distractor
Dare not speak its name
Dedicated to all you
all human beings

Because we separate like
ripples on a blank shore
(in rainbows)
Because we separate like
ripples on a blank shore
(in rainbows)


Take me with you
Dedicated to all you
all human beings



Released: October 10, 2007 digitally, December 3, 2007 CD & Vinyl
Found on: In Rainbows

Reckoner” is the seventh track on the 2007 album In Rainbows. The song was released as the third and final single from In Rainbows on 23 September 2008. It was released through the Radiohead Remix website in the form of “stems”, individual parts of the song (e.g. vocals, guitar, piano) for fans to remix, as with “Nude”. The band had James Holden and Diplo create the first remixes of “Reckoner”.

The song was listed at #254 on Pitchfork Media’s “Top 500 songs of the 2000s”.

In 2001, Radiohead performed a song with the working title of “Reckoner” in George, Washington. This song, also known as “Feeling Pulled Apart by Horses” after a part of the lyrics, was a fast-paced, ‘thrashy’ rock song. In 2005, at a Trade Justice Movement rally where he also played “Nude”, Radiohead singer Thom Yorke performed this early version of “Reckoner” on acoustic guitar. Yorke was later asked about the band’s plans for “Reckoner”, and he declared it “dead and buried”. The song, in either form, was not played on the 2006 Radiohead tour where most In Rainbows material was introduced live. However, the song title was included in the final track listing of their seventh album.

“Reckoner” on In Rainbows bears little resemblance to the earlier incarnation of the song. When the album came out in October 2007, critics and listeners who had heard both versions remarked that the recorded version of “Reckoner” was a completely different, calmer song, taking the form of a ballad sung in falsetto, with dominant percussion and insistent, softer guitar riffs, and entirely different lyrics. The recording also features a string arrangement by guitarist Jonny Greenwood.

Late in 2007, members of Radiohead gave an interview to BBC Radio 1 in which they explained that the new “Reckoner” in fact came out of an attempt to record the earlier song with that title. Late in the sessions, Yorke and Greenwood tried adding a coda to the original version of the song, and eventually the band decided to abandon everything except the new coda, which became “Reckoner”.

The pre-coda, original version of Reckoner was eventually reworked by Thom Yorke (with Jonny Greenwood) and released as a solo effort, bearing the title “Feeling Pulled Apart By Horses”.

When played live, Yorke’s guitar chords are more prominent in the outro section of the song. This part is played on an acoustic guitar in the studio version. The chords bear a vague harmonic similarity to the intro of the original version.

Guitarist Jonny Greenwood was asked by Mojo magazine January 2008 if he was aware that In Rainbows was a remarkable record. He replied: “Well, we spent more time on it than we should have done and you go a bit mental after a while. You listen to something like ‘Reckoner’ and think, maybe this is just a bad break beat. Now I can hear what’s good about it. People around us were telling us it was really good, but what do they know? What do we know?” He added later in the interview: “It was when we recorded ‘Reckoner’ that we felt we’d first got something special on tape.

“Reckoner” is featured in the 2008 film Choke based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk, and in the 2010 Warren Miller film, “Wintervention”. It was also featured in Season 2 of television drama series Life and is used for the closing credits of the 2009 eco-documentary The Age of Stupid and 2010 documentary Countdown to Zero. The song was also used during the climax of the season 1 finale of the television series Detroit 1-8-7. Gnarls Barkley have played a cover of the song numerous times on tour.

At the golden ratio of In Rainbows, which occurs 2 minutes 49 seconds into “Reckoner,” the background vocals can be heard singing “In Rainbows.” It was the ancient Greek mathematician Euclid, who first defined the golden ratio, an aesthetically pleasing proportioning within a piece. A mathematical constant, the golden ratio is calculated as approximately 1.6180339887. In a work of art it appears at 1/1.618, or about 61.8% of a way through. On In Rainbows 2 minutes 49 seconds into “Reckoner” is 61.8% of the way through the album.

  • Gloone

    Cool as it would be, the golden ratio thing is not true. 2.49 into ‘Reckoner’ is 58.8% of the way into the album. That’s much too far (about 1.30) from the golden ratio to ascribe it to that.

  • Hate to tell you this Gloone but your math is wrong. The Golden Ratio is exactly perfect on this album in reference to the background vocals of “In Rainbows”. The 2:49 mark of Reckoner is exactly 1,580 seconds into the album and the total album is 2,558 seconds.

    Math: 1580 / 2558 = .618

  • theytalkinmaths

    Also, the lengths of In Rainbows (2558 seconds) and the bonus second disc (1610 seconds) are approximately in the golden ratio: 2558/(2558+1610)=1.614… This puts the “golden section” at the very end of the album, and the beginning of the second disc.

  • Aaron’s mom

    Love this album. I have great memories of listening to this song in particular with my son. He’s gone now, but listening again brings back those memories so clear. He loved Radiohead. I’m so glad I was the one who got to show them to him.

  • Inneruulaq Larsen

    Reckoner, Radiohead’s 7th track of their 7th album. (y)

  • MouthHole

    Great info. Thanks very much! Hope you’ll keep up with this site as it is golden!

  • Lee Taggart

    Pretty sure it’s “bittersweet distraction,” not “distractor.”