What does Fake Plastic Trees mean?

Radiohead: Fake Plastic Trees Meaning

Album cover for Fake Plastic Trees album cover

Song Released: 1995

Fake Plastic Trees Lyrics

Her Green plastic watering can
For her fake chinese rubber plant
In fake plastic earth.
That she bought from a rubber man
In a town full of rubber plans.
Just to get rid of itself.
And It Wears Her Out, it wears her out
It wears her out,...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
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    Jan 4th 2010 !⃝

    The first part of the song does not define the woman, but reveals that her actions are frivolous and trite. The narrator's unwillingness to label her while the man is labled "broken" and "cracked" seems to suggest a more personal connection to the woman.

    "She lives with a broken man" suggests that the woman has a relationship with a man whom she does not love. She goes through the motions of life but all in vain, for the life that she chooses to live with this man is not real.

    "She looks like the real thing, she tastes like the real thing" suggests that the narrator and woman have shared intimate moments where she has revealed her true self and her love for him, which is in fact, fake and plastic (deceptive) for she returns to a relationship with a man who "just crumbles and burns." Her love is confusing and questionable because she does not leave that broken man.

    "But I can't help the feeling, I could blow through the celieng." He can't help being in love with her yet he knows that she will never leave the man, so he should "just turn and run." "If I could be who you wanted all the time." He is not content with being her lover and yearns for her committment. Unreciprocated love "wears him out."

    In all, I think the message imposes that if you do not live life through love, you live for nothing at all. Your world becomes meaningless and fake. Such as a fake plastic tree may appear to be alive is not, and will never grow.


    #2 top rated interpretation:
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    Mar 11th 2007 !⃝

    There are two ways you could view this song:

    1) The song says that with all of our futile efforts to be perfect(references to plastic surgery and having a fake, pretty life with fake plans) and be "who you wanted", it will"wear us out". So, if we could truly be what/who everyone wanted, it wouldn't be worth it because soon you will see yourself turning fake,or having superficial attitudes.

    2) The song could also refer to wealthy people who go to major lengths o get peoples' attention, for example plastic surgery and plans that don't always go through or unfinished donations to the community and/or charity


    #3 top rated interpretation:
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    Mar 20th 2007 !⃝

    This song is about people making themselves be something there are not to attract and please others. It's all fake and it's sad because we're don't express our true selves for fear of rejection. So we are "perfect plastic trees" --we look like the real thing, taste like the real thing, except that we are fake and that makes us so not perfect.

  4. anonymous
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    Jul 24th 2018 !⃝

    I think it describes a relationship that he is still in and can’t get out of. One that hurts him due to the fact that he has to be someone he isn’t in order to keep it going. All the while knowing it is futile.

    The first two parts describe fake things from a female and male perspective. Plastic trees, a rubber man, plastic surgery, etc.

    But notes they won’t last. Gravity always wins.

    Finally its gets to the first person and he notes he feels like he/she could escape if she/he just had the ability to do something heroic (blow through the cieling).

    But ultimately he/she is going to continue to try to placate and guess what the other person wants. Knowing it will never work out in the end.

  5. anonymous
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    Mar 10th 2017 !⃝

    The song is sung from the perspective of the woman's pet fish. Watching her and her boyfriend/roommate trying to use superficial things to make themselves happy to no avail, while he being a fish is unable to do anything to help. He wishes he could leap from his fish tank (the ceiling he could blow through being the surface of the water) to be what she truly wanted, whatever that may be.

  6. anonymous
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    Aug 11th 2014 !⃝

    We've all been there or will be there when everything will
    Seem so fake that we probably will wonder around for
    Something and when we find it, we can't define it because
    What we believed was a life gone. We all do surgery but gravity pulls in the end!!!!

  7. anonymous
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    Oct 22nd 2012 !⃝

    I think the first part about the women is her problem with buying fake, plastic things in order to fill up something in her life or replicate something she wants/loves/d/ or maybe just her empty life. Due to her buying or wanting these things it wears her. Mentally and possibly physically.

    The second part is about her i guess husband or mate who was a plastic surgeon that tried to fix girls in the 80's (or maybe even girls in their 80's) but gravity stops him from completing it fully. Like no matter how long he tries, they will always be old or in their eyes, imperfect. And because of that it wears him out.

    The third part is about a man (possibly thom)who is deeply in love with a woman but cant get her or be with her because shes fake herself. Her kiss, her looks all look real but her essence isnt. He even wants to become fake just like her and the rest of the people just to be with her...and that wears him out.

    Overall, to me this song is about fakness and how it takes over peoples life (woman and man) and causes some people to want to become fake themselves (guy,possibly thom)just so they can achieve what all 3 lack: Happiness.

  8. anonymous
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    Jun 13th 2011 !⃝

    i think its just simply about a long term relationship that has run its course,and all the passion has sadly been lost from there life together,they have just become people who share a house rather than their lives, they both know that its over and they no longer love each over as they used to, but they still go thru the motions pretending to one another,friends,family, etc, that things are ok between them, therefore all that is left holding them together are the material things, artificial things, the show home, fake plastic trees, and the fear of moving on and being alone. very melancholy,the line at the end suggests to me "if i could be what you wanted....all the time" that they still care for each other and would hate to hurt the other person, but they have lost something between them along the way that they can never get back, no matter how much they try.

  9. anonymous
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    Apr 27th 2011 !⃝

    I think the song is referring to a relationship where the man has a mental illness. The woman goes through the mundane process of her life, tending her fake plants as a means of routine as she copes with her partners terrible illness, possibly intermittent dementia.

    The man is broken, crumbling, claims he used to be a plastic surgeon etc. But through all the pain, the woman is still his love. The end line - 'if I could be who you wanted, all the time (I would)' suggests that the man has good moments and wishes that he could be the person she yearns for all the time.

  10. anonymous
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    Jan 31st 2011 !⃝

    This song tells me how everybody will be fake to get ahead in life.

    It reminds me of that Shel Silverstein poem-

    "The saddest thing I ever did see
    Was a woodpecker peckin' at a plastic tree.
    He looks at me, and 'Friend,' says he,
    'Things ain't as sweet as they used to be.'"

    It just keeps pecking anyway in absolute desperation. When everything around you is fake, you almost have no choice to become fake yourself, the only way to relate to people.

    I think it's about wanting something you can't have, but even that thing you desire so much isn't what you need. "She tastes like the real thing." in a world full of fakeness, he wants desperatly to believe that this one is "the real thing." He's willing to be fake himself.

  11. anonymous
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    Oct 23rd 2009 !⃝

    I think this song is about someone on anti-depressants, about how there is no feeling, no emotion, the world is fake and the lover who has to deal with it is worn down by this.
    I know it's a different way of thinking of the song, but it personifies the feelings of someone in that state.

  12. anonymous
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    Aug 24th 2009 !⃝

    How bout this- consumerism has made us superficial (the cracked polystirene man who used to be a plastic surgeon). The best line: in a town full of rubber plants..to get rid of itself. The live version is brilliant.

  13. anonymous
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    Apr 25th 2009 !⃝

    The evocation of the Coca-Cola slogan "tastes like the real thing", fashion labels "it wears her out" and the futility of plastic surgery "gravity always wins" are highlights for me in a predictably ahead of the curve attack on the celebrity/image driven obsessions which are undermining our world.

  14. anonymous
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    May 17th 2007 !⃝

    Surely it's just about how tedious modern life is?

  15. anonymous
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    Apr 23rd 2007 !⃝

    The most significant thing to understand about this song is that the 3rd person narrative about the surgery victim woman and her plastic surgery performing husband/boyfriend CHANGES to a more dramatic first person narrative ("MY fake plastic love" and "I can't help the feeling") So which one is it that fantasizes of escaping this relationship?

    My personal take is that it's the man's voice who uses the possessive "My" and the woman's voice who fantasizes of escape, or perhaps both of them want something different. Clearly, the last lines belong to the woman, she wants to be the object of his desire always, but you can tell from the tone of desperation that she knows that she won't be able to, and this makes her (and me) very very sad. Too bad he won't change and start loving her for who she is. She should drop that zero and get with me.

    In the words of the Gorilla Biscuits, "I can't blend with the ads I see, they're better looking than me, you try to look your best, but you'll never rest--think, it won't make you happy. A standard's set that I just can not live up to." -Gergster

  16. anonymous
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    Feb 3rd 2007 !⃝

    The invention of fake plants is an interesting aspect of consumerism, and this twist to this song is a new one to me... as with many radiohead songs they are uniquely ambiguous. Many people might suggest that capitalists have implanted a collective conscience of thought where this consumerism makes us feel better about capitalist employment. With much more disposable cash, this ideology of needed materialist objects (makes us feel better ie shopping) is essential to stop a civil war or revolution. Comprehending this can be achieved by imagining spending wages solely on subsistence ie food etc. Consumerism now appears to be subsistence.... On the other hand it could be seen as a relationship tug of war where one is losing, is aware of the situation but allowing morals to be manipulated etc etc I prefer the first meaning...

  17. anonymous
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    Dec 18th 2006 !⃝

    the names hayward, tim hayward I belive this song ios about the beauty of nauture and how it should be protected. I love to be at one with naure and often medatate in the forsets of the bara dur, with dry bumage afterwards

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  18. anonymous
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    Jan 3rd 2006 !⃝

    THIS SONG IS LOVE. To me it's about someone observing how superficial we are naturally. He realizes people having materistic identities yet we are drawn to it still and love it. Its like watching tv. were all just actors; marketed and sold products.somehow we find that as desireable. and the result.. we wish we could be who they (you), anyone, wanted...all the time. Thank god for radiohead and this song.

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