Radiohead Lyrics

Climbing Up the Walls

I am the key to the lock in your house
That keeps your toys in the basement
And if you get too far inside
You’ll only see my reflection

It’s always best when the light is off
I am the pick in the ice
Do not cry out or hit the alarm
You know we’re friends till we die

And either way you turn
I’ll be there
Open up your skull
I’ll be there
Climbing up the walls

It’s always best when the light is off
It’s always better on the outside
Fifteen blows to the back of your head
Fifteen blows to your mind

So lock the kids up safe tonight
Put the eyes in the cupboard
I’ve got the smell of a local man
Who’s got the loneliest feeling

That either way he turns
I’ll be there
Open up your skull
I’ll be there

Climbing up the walls
Climbing up the walls
Climbing up the walls


Released: June 1997
Found on: OK Computer. Zero 7 & Fila Brazilla mixes are found on Karma Police CD2.

This is the first track in the band’s repertoire to be described as “scary.” It relies heavily on strings, but not in the conventional way. The string section, covered by Jonny alone, features 16 different violins playing quarter tones apart from each other.

The audience’s cue that the band is about to play this song live comes when Jonny pulls out a small radio and begins tuning it to different stations. During the band’s sound checks, Jonny locates classical-music or news-oriented local radio stations, and uses these -never rock stations- to execute “Climbing Up the Walls.”

Thom : “This is about the unspeakable. Literally skull-crushing. I used to work in a mental hospital around the time that Care In The Community started, and we all just knew what was going to happen. And it’s one of the scariest things to happen in this country, because a lot of them weren’t just harmless… It was hailing violently when we recorded this. It seemed to add to the mood.”

“Some people can’t sleep with the curtains open in case they see the eyes they imagine in their heads every night burning through the glass. Lots of people have panic buttons fitted in their bedrooms so they can reach over and set the alarm off without disturbing the intruder. This song is about the cupboard monster.”

  • Saintdennis88

    They do an amazing job with this track.

  • Polo

    shoot the eyes in the cupboard

  • Polo

    or maybe shut the eyes

  • Christopher M. Whicker

    I thought Radiohead’s first scary song was “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” from The Bends. All their “scary” songs are some of the best also

  • I’m willing to bed its “Unclean man” not “Local man”. Also I find it really weird that the booklet for OK computer’s lyrics for this song are drastically different… For those that don’t have the artwork.

  • Josh Reeves
    I looked at the booklet image you left and these may have been the original lyrics. In some Radiohead songs, they change the lyrics when they record the studio version.

  • jacob._.dawson

    The string part in this is based on Penderecki’s Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima.

  • ?????????????? ???????? ??????

    Can anyone else hear what is possibly Collin’s voice supporting Tom? I’ve attempted some superficial research and gleaned nothing.