Symbols and Omens in Radiohead's, A Moon Shaped Pool
  • TUESDAY, MAY 17, 2016

  • Posted by: Evan Jake Goldstein

Radiohead is a band known for hiding secret messages, cryptic symbolism, and even an entire secret album, within their music. Although their ninth LP, A Moon Shaped Pool has only been out for a short time, we at Baeble Music decided to do some investigating of our own to see what intricacies we could unearth. Surely, there will be new discoveries and theories emerging for years to come, but here's what we've interpreted about Radiohead's complex discography, so far. Coming Full Circle The first word of the album's opening track ("Burn the Witch") is 'stay' and the last word of the last track ("True Love Waits") is 'leave'. What's even more interesting is that the first and last two words of the album form the sentence, "Stay in, don't leave." The conflicted parallel between "Burn the Witch" and the over 20-year-old work in progress, "True Love Waits," is eerie, to say the very least.
"Daydreaming" in Reverse When played in reverse, at the end of the track, "Daydreaming," frontman Thom Yorke is clearly saying something, and if you listen closely, you'll hear him say, "Half of my life/ I've found my love/ Half of my love." This is most likely a reference to Thom's partner of 23 years, Rachel Owen. The relationship began when he was 23 and ended when he was 46, amounting to half of his life. In the track's accompanying video, Yorke walks through 23, fittingly symbolic doors.
True Love Waits "True Love Waits" was first played live in 1995 while Radiohead was on tour supporting their second album, The Bends (video below). The first attempt at recording a studio version of the song was during the Kid A/Amnesiac sessions in 2000. Although most can agree that "True Love Waits" is an outstanding song at every phase of its evolution, the band wasn't satisfied with the results and it remained unreleased. In 2001, a live, acoustic version of the song found its way onto the I Might Be Wrong EP, becoming an instant fan favorite, but it wasn't until A Moon Shaped Pool was released (almost 22 years after it was first played) that the song finally found its way onto a studio album. What's more, that the track also happens to be the 100th song in Radiohead's studio discography, leaving us to wonder if Thom intended to shelve "True Love Waits" so that it might be their 100th song. Given its lyrical content, it's also possible that Yorke was holding onto the song in the event that his relationship ended, at a time when he could truly showcase the sense of longing, impermanence and dependence that the track hinges on. "True Love Waits" concludes with Yorke's repetition of, "don't leave," his words weighed down by an overwhelming sense of desperation and angst. What Yorke seems to have done, is write a breakup song 22 years in advance, only releasing the foreboding track when his true love actually left him.
The Order Of Things The tracklist is in alphabetical order (Disclaimer: the word, "The" does not qualify as a part of a songs title, it never has and it ever will) which we trust is nothing short of intentional. Though many of the songs on the album were written, played, and named long before A Moon Shaped Pool, the evidence that the order of the tracklist was deliberate, is fairly overwhelming. For instance, the albums 8th track, "The Numbers" was previously known as, "Silent Spring," however, the band changed the title for A Moon Shaped Pool, presumably to better suit their intended (or at least preferred) tracklist. Here's something to think about; what's a nifty device that would order an album's tracklist alphabetically? A computer! If you know Radiohead at all, you know that computers and androids have been a recurring theme in their music.
Leave it to Thom and the boys to keep us guessing and experiencing music on the highest of levels.
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