What does Street Spirit mean?

Radiohead: Street Spirit Meaning

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Album cover for Street Spirit album cover

Song Released: 1996


Street Spirit Lyrics

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, will not communicate
These...

  1. 1TOP RATED

    #1 top rated interpretation:
    anonymous
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    Jul 30th 2008 !⃝

    Our fans are braver than I to let that song penetrate them, or maybe they don't realize what they're listening to.. They don't realize 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 to 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-Thom yorke

  2. anonymous
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    Aug 8th 2023 !⃝

    I think it’s important to remember that this was written while the Bosnian War and the siege of Sarajevo were raging (“Lucky,” in fact, was written for an album cut by various artists, with sales earmarked for support of Bosnian refugees). So Europe was descending into war for the first time since WWII.

    With that as the background, this song addresses the horror of life. The normalcy of buildings feels oppressive when you’re helpless to stop death and suffering. With time, we forget the horror and violence. Our memory fades, and we forget the intensity of war and violence.

    The lyrics then extend to the horror of existence and nature, the cracked eggs containing dead birds. Everywhere you look, you witness harshness, brutality, and death.

    The song appears to end in an up note; immerse yourself in love. Love pulls us together, not apart. You could, however, also interpret that as love cocoons you from the nonstop pain that surrounds you, but I think the “world child” bit is a call to stand together, lest the horrors overtake us, and we all descend into the chaos of war, hate, and destruction. The song vaguely echoes T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland.”

    Or…Thom got out of the wrong side of the bed that morning. Whatever it is, the song is gorgeous and the arpeggios are hauntingly beautiful (and tricky to play).

  3. Namibo
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    Mar 13th 2023 !⃝

    Street Spirit is by far the saddest song I've ever heard. Basically, it exposes the struggling to keep up with our modern society. The accusation is referred mainly to the huge scientific developments ("Rows of houses", "This machine will not communicate"), which have destroyed the natural essence of the world, not only living beings, but the behaviour of humans itself. The theme could seem very trivial, but Radiohead are never superficial. I will focus on some quotes inside the song:
    - "This machine will, will not communicate these thoughts and the strain I am under". It's a cry for help. He's looking for a way to express his thoughts, which are impossible to explain through a machine, a phone or an instagram story. He's searching something real, something which is not automated, something human.
    - "All these things into position all these things we'll one day swallow whole". He's complaining about these things which are more and more perfect around us, so that we strive to have all "into position", without reminding that we are not perfect and we never will be. We are what we are, ourselves and no one else. This is a huge concept which is very current. Let's think for a moment about Instagram: we strive to appear as beautiful as possible in a story or a post, just like the beatiful plastic influencers that we follow. Will we swallow it all one day, or are we already doing it?
    - "Be a world child, form a circle before we all go under". This quote is beatiful and it reminds me something of Nietzsche's Overman. Anyway, he's calling a child (an uncorrupted creature) to form a circle, as to draw a safeline fo us all, saving some "human principles" as a defense from what the world is becoming.
    The solution? Is to "immerse our soul in love", beacuse love, probably, is the only thing that no machine can replace... or maybe not?

  4. anonymous
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    Oct 24th 2017 !⃝

    i think it has all to deal with mindfulness. It's true that we are getting less mindfull.

  5. anonymous
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    Jul 18th 2017 !⃝

    It's a song about Ben Okri's "The Famished Road"

  6. anonymous
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    Dec 13th 2013 !⃝

    Seems to me this song is about heroin addiction.

  7. anonymous
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    Jul 4th 2013 !⃝

    Ok...it's about the pressure that life brings him, from being him, form all of us being who we are. Bad? Streets bearing down on him, the pressure, anxiety/depression/paranoia etc, one day he'll/we'll put it into some sort of perspective and it just won't matter anymore, 'all these things into position, all these things we'll one day swallow whole'. Maybe perfection in death, as in the only time we'll feel peace and content is when we die? 'Fade out again', maybe moving from a depressed state into a lighter one, then back into depression again, or something like that?

    Cracked eggs, dead birds etc inside him? On the outside hes seeing this? Both? The pain and the suffering in everyone. 'World child form a circle before we all go under', fade out again...would be nice if we could be as one but not going to happen :/ nice thought but it just fades out again...

    This is a song about the harshness of reality, staring the devil in the eyes...ive been there so i can relate...to a degree :|

  8. anonymous
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    Sep 23rd 2011 !⃝

    talks about the life you dont live and just leave behind without you noticing because time never stops and we´re now in this world but nothing lasts forever cause everything fades out and we can do nothin to stop this from happening. in short depression about seeing this changing world and desasters that weve been facing or we are to face.

  9. anonymous
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    Sep 23rd 2011 !⃝

    talks about the life you dont live and just leave behind without you noticing because time never stops and we´re now in this world but nothing lasts forever cause everything fades out and we can do nothin to stop this from happening. in short depression about seeing this changing world and desasters that weve been facing or were are to face.

  10. anonymous
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    Jul 29th 2009 !⃝

    you guys are all wrong. the singer claims that the song wrote itself, he was just the messenger. it's about seeing the devil and looking him right in the eyes.

  11. anonymous
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    Dec 24th 2006 !⃝

    Tom Yorke's self admitted depression is what I believe is the basis of this song. He sees the darkest sides of depression "I can see death, can see its beady eyes"...but is hopeful near the end "immerse your soul in love" as a way to get through. Any thoughts?


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