Radiohead Lyrics

Street Spirit (Fade Out)

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

This machine will not communicate
These thoughts and the strain I am under
Be a world child, form a circle
Before we all go under
And fade out again and fade out again

Cracked eggs, dead birds
Scream as they fight for life
I can feel death, can see it’s beady eyes
All these things into position
All these things we’ll one day swallow whole
And fade out again and fade out again

Immerse your soul in love
Immerse your soul in love.

 

SONG INFORMATION

Released: March 1995
Found on: The Bends & Street Spirit single. Acoustic version found on Fake Plastic Trees CD2.

This song was written in 1993, around the same time as “My Iron Lung.” “Creep” is Radiohead’s American hit, this is the British equivalent. Noted by singer-songwriter and guitarist Thom Yorke as “one of [the band's] saddest songs” and describing it as “the dark tunnel without the light at the end,” “Street Spirit” was released as the band’s ninth single and reached number five on the UK Singles Chart, the highest chart position the band achieved until “Paranoid Android” from OK Computer, which reached number three in 1997.

Yorke has suggested that the song was inspired by the 1991 novel The Famished Road, written by Ben Okri, and that its music was inspired by R.E.M. The track is built around a soft melody in A minor with an arpeggio (broken chord) guitar part.

Thom: “Street Spirit is our purest song, but I didn’t write it. It wrote itself. We were just its messengers; its biological catalysts. Its core is a complete mystery to me, and, you know, I wouldn’t ever try to write something that hopeless. All of our saddest songs have somewhere in them at least a glimmer of resolve. Street Spirit has no resolve. It is the dark tunnel without the light at the end. It represents all tragic emotion that is so hurtful that the sound of that melody is its only definition. We all have a way of dealing with that song. It’s called detachment. Especially me; I detach my emotional radar from that song, or I couldn’t play it. I’d crack. I’d break down on stage. That’s why its lyrics are just a bunch of mini-stories or visual images as opposed to a cohesive explanation of its meaning. I used images set to the music that I thought would convey the emotional entirety of the lyric and music working together. That’s what’s meant by ‘all these things you’ll one day swallow whole’. I meant the emotional entirety, because I didn’t have it in me to articulate the emotion. I’d crack…

Our fans are braver than I to let that song penetrate them, or maybe they don’t realise what they’re listening to. They don’t realise that Street Spirit is about staring the fucking devil right in the eyes, and knowing, no matter what the hell you do, he’ll get the last laugh. And it’s real, and true. The devil really will get the last laugh in all cases without exception, and if I let myself think about that too long, I’d crack.

I can’t believe we have fans that can deal emotionally with that song. That’s why I’m convinced that they don’t know what it’s about. It’s why we play it towards the end of our sets. It drains me, and it shakes me, and hurts like hell every time I play it, looking out at thousands of people cheering and smiling, oblivious to the tragedy of its meaning, like when you’re going to have your dog put down and it’s wagging its 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. I didn’t write that song.”

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  • Asha

    i would like to say… that the last verse… Immerse your soul in Love… is so hopeful. is it not what saves us from the pain and heartbreak? though i can perhaps see where Thom yorke is going with what he is saying… perhaps there is more. if the song wrote itself… it left hope at the end… to Immerse your soul in Love is what saves us. to immerse and bring to light and love all those emotions… rise above it in a sense…
    something like that…. to Immerse your soul in Love is one of the most beautiful phrases i know.

  • Asha

    replying to myself… and truely facing all that emotion… it can be so much sometimes…. and we face it with our hearts, with Love… and that is what saves us from cracking too. and when or if we do crack… at least it takes us deeper… one layer of the onion peeled away… oh, its so beautiful.
    facing the Devil perhaps… with Love… there is so much resolve in that song… at the end, how i see it.
    may we all Immerse our souls in Love.

  • http://ghytwembpang.deviantart.com Ghyt Wembpang

     I took it to mean immerse your soul in love despite the fact that it doesn’t make a difference.

  • Asha

    but it does make a difference. look deeply into your heart and you will see! <3

  • Leonardo L.

    If Yorke says the song wrote itself, then maybe not even he knows its real meaning.

    About the last verse, it really caughts my attention. Why immersing your soul in love if this won’t make a difference anyway? Probably because this is a hope the “guy of the song” found, in his despair to escape from the dark tunnel. From devil’s hands. A desperate decision trying to save himself. It’s not sure that it will work, but it’s really a hope. Well, if he immerses his soul in love, maybe love becomes a shield that keeps him protected. Or maybe he knows that he will lose and there’s no escape, but he does it because this is something pure and evil-less.

    Even out of context this is a special and beautiful phrase.

  • Bignothing_xo

    Amazing song.

  • streetspirit1971

    yes it’s true: Immerse your soul in love

  • Mags Morrigan

    Sometimes its just what you need to have someone say the words for you.  Even if they don’t really make sense together – they all make sense separately; and the thought is there underneath all the pieces.  Just like its there under all the pieces of your everyday.  But you do it all anyway, regardless.  Every day.  Its not a despair, though.  Its like running when you’re tired.  Just to that tree, okay to the corner, now to that fence; and it aches but you ignore it and talk yourself into these meaningless goals just to see if you can.  Just to keep yourself in motion.

  • Sillypuddingforthemonkey

    If thom yorke says that this song has no hopeful light at the end then what I believe those last few lyrics mean is that even if the end is imminent and inevitable, don’t betray yourself in the end just for a chance to continue. Immerse your soul in love, the love you’ve known. And as the last moments that’s what will be with u. It’ll keep u human. Specially when facing the devil, it’s inevitable that he will have the last laugh but go as a human not as a demon.

  • Matt Casebier

    I agree with you 100%, and that was the vibe I got from this song when I first heard it (and still do).

  • Humanity

    …Fuck that, I’m going to get the last laugh, not the devil.

  • Ootoobeah

    You can immerse yourself and your soul in as much love as you want but if and when you look into those beady, dead eyes, love will be the last thing on your mind. None of us can win. The minute we are born is the beginning of a countdown to our inevitable, possibly painful and almost certainly terrifying death!

  • Shiva Scanlon

    “Immerse your soul in love” was not part of the original lyrics. So I think it’s true that the original genesis of the song was completely hopeless, like Thom said. For whatever reason, he added the last line later.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yd0GtGMwyqw

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  • Optimistic1

    It’s just a song with a beautiful melody. It’s not too be taken so seriously. Words on paper is all it is. The devil does not get the last laugh. The God who created our world and gave us life has already won the war against Satan. Satans powers are only good within our world, but Gods power extends to the ends of the universe. Satans power is limited. Gods power is infinite. Sadly, the only thing I learned from what Thom wrote is that he is not a believer in God or the Bible, which I truly hope changes in the future. He was obviously blessed with a great talent in music.