Radiohead – Videotape

One small, overlooked song on Radiohead’s new album In Rainbows is an amazing piece of art. The lyrics are few, yet many. The singer, Thom Yorke, tells of a story of a man who has just died. This is seen in the lyrics “When I am at the pearly gates.” He is talking about looking back on his life, he has it all on videotape. Mephistopheles is Lucifer, and he is just below trying to grab this man down from the gates of heaven.  The words are beautiful, Thom Yorke does not simply say what he means, he uses different terms to get his point across. Not only does he use Mephistopheles instead of Satan, he says “red blue green” which is RGB or a color set for electronic devices. He is referring to his videotapes, but uses clever language to say it. The rest of the song talks about the peace he finds in death. He is not afraid, he is at peace with himself. This song definitely has some spiritual overtones, but is not in any way Christian although it can be taken that way.

When I’m at the pearly gates
This’ll be on my videotape
my videotape

When Mephistopheles is just beneath
And he’s reaching up to grab me

This is one for the good days
And I have it all here
In red blue green
Red blue green

You are my centre when I spin away
Out of control on videotape
On videotape

This is my way of saying goodbye
Because I can’t do it face to face

No matter what happens now
I won’t be afraid
Because I know today has been the most perfect day I’ve ever seen.


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