What does Videotape mean?

Search Login

Radiohead: Videotape Meaning

Tagged:

No tags, suggest one.

Videotape Lyrics

When I'm at the pearly gates
This will be on my videotape, my videotape
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...

  1. 1TOP RATED

    #1 top rated interpretation:
    anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Oct 21st 2007 report

    On their new album In Rainbows, there is a song called Faust Arp. Faust is a figure in Christian mythology who made a deal with Mephistopheles (the devil). The deal was that Faust would get whatever he desired but if he ever acknowledged that day was the greatest day of his life, Mephistopheles gets his soul. It is also said in Christian mythology that when you die, you go through your life to find that one moment when you were the happiest you ever were. That moment is then put onto a 'videotape' and you live in that moment for all eternity. Mephistopheles is directly mentioned in the song. Remember the deal Faust made with him? The album ends with the words, "Whatever happens now, I won't be afraid because I know today has been the most perfect day I've ever seen." I think you can figure out the rest.

  2. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jul 13th report

    I think that this song is about dying at the end of your natural life (not suicide) and being judged at the entrance of heaven. The good days of his life are stored in his memory, like a video records images, and that he gets to relive the happiest moments and so accepts death as he's at his happiest in those moments. It's acknowledging the people who are part of those memories and it all goes towards making up his perfect day. I think the part about them being the centre when he spins away is about them being the thing that is always constant and steadies him. When my dad died of cancer I wanted to thank him for all my perfect memories involving him but struggled to say the words, as I think a lot of people do. I Wanted him to know the impact he'd had on my life and my happiness so this song always makes me think of him. It's bittersweet.

  3. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jul 13th report

    I think that this song is about dying at the end of your natural life (not suicide) and being judged at the entrance of heaven. The good days of his life are stored in his memory, like a video records images, and that he gets to relive the happiest moments and so accepts death as he's at his happiest in those moments. It's acknowledging the people who are part of those memories and it all goes towards making up his perfect day. When my dad died of cancer I wanted to thank him for all my perfect memories involving him but struggled to say the words, as I think a lot of people do. I Wanted him to know the impact he'd had on my life and my happiness so this song always makes me think of him. It's bittersweet.

  4. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jan 12th 2017 report

    Red blue green are pills this is a good buy song to the one that he loved

    It's not the first suicide song from Radiohead
    Check out (no suprises ) song

  5. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jul 28th 2012 report

    definitely concur with the gay interpretation, you look at all the gay porn video out there how could you not become engrossed, like with this song. And the Afric Gabon, the birthplace of aids and gay monkey-banging, proudly displays its flag's colors as red, blue and green, and Mephisto was their first gay prime minister. In their fortnightly lunar ceremony where they paint their asses and genitals those colors also, they engage in gay sex that whole day/night until the moon is no longer visible, and then wash the particolored spooge from theis asses until the rivers run brown, the gayest of all colors, and the culmination of the mixed colors. Also, the title of the album, Rainbow, is the blatant banner of all gays. Also someone told me that the stanza "...pearly gates ...videotape...Mephistopheles... grab me..." is an anagram for something like 'gay intercourse need reign, anal to serve' et al. but I forgot the exact anagram. Pretty insightful carnage

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  6. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jul 14th 2012 report

    'When I'm at the pearly gates
    This will be on my videotape, my videotape
    Mephistopheles is just beneath
    and he's reaching up to grab me'

    After looking through the rest of the lyrics, this first stanza to me sounds as if the man has recorded and left a video for a someone of himself saying goodbye and committing suicide. Like other commenters have said, Mephistopheles was a character from German folklore who worked for the devil. I feel as if the man in this song is committing suicide due to guilt from something to do with whoever he's left this for- which relates to the idea of being pulled down to hell (for doing something evil) by Mephistopheles.
    _______________________________________________________
    'This is one for the good days
    and I have it all here
    In red, blue, green
    Red, blue, green'

    I'm not so sure about this part, but I feel as if the man thinks whoever he's left this video for will will be happy that he's dead. I get the impression of this as he says 'This is one for the good days', which suggests he thinks whoever he's left this for, will watch the video and feel happy.
    _______________________________________________________
    'You are my center
    When I spin away
    Out of control on videotape
    On videotape
    On videotape
    My videotape'

    I feel as if 'You are my center/When I spin away' roughly means 'you are the reason I'm killing myself'.
    'You are my center' sounds as if whoever this is for is the cause/reason the man is killing himself. 'When I spin away/Out of control' quite obviously means 'when I die'.
    _______________________________________________________
    "This is my way of saying goodbye
    Because I can't do it face to face
    I'm talking to you after it's too late
    From my videotape'

    I think this stanza clearly supports the idea he has recorded a video of himself saying goodbye and committing suicide. Leaving a videotape for whoever this is for is his 'way of saying goodbye', quite literally because he can't say goodbye face to face.
    _______________________________________________________

    'No matter what happens now
    I won't be afraid
    Because I know today has been the most perfect day *I'll ever see'

    Again, this supports the idea he's committed suicide, as nothing else can happen after he's died and it is the last [perfect] day he'll ever see.



    *To me, it sounds as if he says this rather than "I've ever seen".

  7. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Mar 24th 2012 report

    I thik this song is very beautiful and also think that its a suicide letter in the last few lines "this is my way of saying goodbye because I cant do it face to face" I believe that was a suicide note.

  8. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Apr 8th 2011 report

    It's about gay people obviously, they continually die(metaphor for getting aids) and they wish they could stop having sex, because it's killing them, but they can't, the videotape(porn) represents sex, and they can't stop because they love it, because they are gay.

    This link explains why this interpretation makes so much sense. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwGFalTRHDA

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  9. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jan 26th 2011 report

    A note on the abovementioned meaning of the song:

    Goethe's Dr. Faust includes a passage in which Faust bets with Mephistopheles (the Devil)that the day that Meph. would let him feel fully apeace and content with himself - by quenching his thirst for knowledge (Faust had an unsatiable thirst for knowledge), he would cease to exist and Meph. could have his soul.

    The Play never mentions anything about the continuance of life in that 'happy' state.
    For that reason, I reject the meaning mentioned above.

  10. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jan 19th 2011 report

    It is undeniable that this song is based on the The tragic history of Doctor Faustus. Dr. Faustus makes a pact with the devil for power and knowledge.
    After 24 years, Mephistopheles - which is generally considered an agent of Lucifer - comes to collect his soul.

    Till the end, Dr. Faust still doubts the real existence of hell and notes to Mephistopheles that hell is a fable. This also seems to be the case in the song where the author speaks of the pearly gates, which are the gates of heaven.

    Despite having made a deal with the devil, he/she still believes that he/she is actually going to heaven.

    The videotape part is not clear to me.

    However, that the song is predominantly based on the story of Dr. Faust is certain.

    The thing the author had wished for may be a woman/or a man, for that coincides with one of the things Dr. Faustus wished for in the story. He asked the devil for a wife, and the devil gave him a wife which was in fact the devil himself disguised as a woman.

    The song is not about suicide. It should be understood as the mythical moment when the devil (via its agent Mephistopheles) comes to collect the soul of the author. The physical method of his/her death is irrelevant. The song should not be understood literally in that sense.

  11. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jul 2nd 2009 report

    Well i believe the proof that this song is a suicide note lies in the final lines.

    "Because I know today has been the most perfect day I have ever seen"

    In this line he is submitting to the devil because as mentioned above Faust made a deal with the Mephistopheles and if he admitted that that day was the best day in his life the devil would own him. What do other people think?

  12. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Feb 14th 2007 report

    I believe this song is sung to/about his children (Noah, born in 2001 to whom the Radiohead album Amnesiac was dedicated and Agnes Mair, born 2004 to whom Yorke dedicated The Eraser).

    "When I'm at the pearly gates
    This will be on my videotape
    My videotape
    My videotape"

    The "videotape" he is likely referring to is essentially the highlights of his life- it is what he has done to change the world and the contributions he has made. It is how he wants to be remembered, and what he carries with him to the afterlife.

    "When Mephistopholis is just beneath
    And he's reaching up to grab me"

    Mephistopholis is a character in literature that is essentially the proverbial serpent or tempter (the devil or servant of the devil). He attempts to steer those in doubt away from their faith, and embrace the dark temptations in life (wealth, power, greed). The suggested message here is that “this” (whatever is on his videotape) is helping him resist this temptation.

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

    Thom talk about “the good days”?? To see such a barefaced and joyful expression from him is, to say the least, rare. And while Thom plays the troubled and angst filled rock star part to a tee, it is undeniable that his children are the apple of his eye. And of course red blue green (RGB color model) are the colors that can be combined in various ways to reproduce other colors and is a type of video component signal used in video electronics. Anyone who has seen an older projector will know exactly what I am talking about.

    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

    Perhaps more specifically this is about the days his children were born, and if one wants to take this very literally we could say it actually references the videotape on which the birth is recorded. Either way Thom’s lyrics can really run the spectrum from a straightforward, clear message to very abstract and metaphor laden. I think this song is somewhere in between. Certainly a beautiful song when performed solo…I am excited to hear the new album and studio version….


More Radiohead song meanings »


 


Submit Your Interpretation

[ want a different song? ]





Just Posted

X & Y anonymous
Scars To Your Beautiful anonymous
Dead Girls anonymous
Golden Ratio anonymous
Severed anonymous
Forget To Remember anonymous
Cradle anonymous
Sacrifice anonymous
Love Me Harder anonymous
Hound Dog Richard
Your Wings anonymous
Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus anonymous
Still Rolling Stones anonymous
Uprising anonymous
The Wind Cries Mary anonymous

Get a weekly email update

(We won't give out your email)

Latest Releases

Made
Spencer Crandall
Breadwinner
Kacey Musgraves
Hey Mama
Britnee Kellogg
Colorado
Milky Chance
Heavy Is The Crown
Daughtry
Turn The Night On
Kaleb Austin
Love Nwantiti (Ah Ah Ah)
CKay
Sunrise Tells The Story
Midland