Radiohead’s Lucky: behind the meaning of the lyrics

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“Music is Power”, as Richard Ashcroft sings in his eponymous song from the album Keys to the World, the third of his solo career.

The philosopher Martin Heidegger, commenting a Van Gogh painting, said that a piece of art discloses a universe: the one belongin to the artist, which shows off to the spectator. There is no reason to think that this doesn’t apply to music too. Even more: it doesn’t only reveal the world of those who design and realize that art, but also of the world of who enjoys it, allowing a conjunction, a common experience between these two worlds.

Some songs have messages, tell us something (more or less explicitly), that can make us aware of a need to change. To change ourselves, and maybe to change the world.

This is what Ashcroft means with the power of music, which has the peculiarity of being an immediate and direct artistic form. It can make us imagine, through John Lennon’s voice, a different world, almost angelic, made of peace and values worthy of being called human.

On this line of interpretation, we place also Radiohead’s Lucky: a song places at the end of Ok Computer, a decision that most likely is not a coincidence.

I’m on a roll
I’m on a roll this time
I feel my luck could change

In the lyrics there is an idea of love as a way out of the solipsistic monotony given by the daily production-consumption dialectic, on what we call the postmodern that the album, with an incredible creative brilliance, accurately describes. Therefore, the end of the album reserves the possibility of a change.

Kill me, Sarah
Kill me again with love
It’s gonna be a glorious day

But things are not so simple: this breakthrough can kill you, but this risk is what provides meaning and makes life worth living, while still living in uncertainness (“we’re standing on the edge”).

Pull me out of the aircrash
Pull me out of the lake
‘Cause I’m your superhero

The loved one can kill us, but also, and above all, save us. And we cannot expect to just receive from others, we also need to be active, ready to fill the gap between subjectivity and reality.

The head of state has called for me by name
But I don’t have time for him
It’s gonna be a glorious day

The motto “unity is strength” is worth now more than ever, in a world that tends to alienate us and turn us into robots, gears of a machine that we never wanted, too strong for us. This is what’s behind last stanza: the head of state is power, he calls for us by name.

Are we strong enough?

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