Radiohead, Like Spinning Plates: behind the meaning of the lyrics

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Music preserves in itself an immanent power to communicate and therefore to change things. To change ourselves and the world around us. This is still the best way to approach any piece of art, the only yardstick to distinguish the art that’s worth (able to create a bridge between artist and user) from the self-referential one , which ends up being a mere technical exercise.

So our respect for the positive art, the one which communicates, is the first step to make before entering the critical discussion of what is communicated. The latter, however, is often not immediate: we must focus our senses, listen attentively, interpret: it’s not a passive joy, we become part of the same work of art, as we shape and we organize what comes to our senses, elaborating it in a coherent way.

Back to the starting point: in order to change things, you need to know, consciously realize the situation you are in. This is the leitmotif accompanying post-Kid A Radiohead, the “political breakthrough” of Amnesiac. Why did they move in this thematic direction? Because – and here the long introduction acquires its meaning – the situation requires the intervention of a powerful and direct expressive medium, like the artistic-musical one. And who better than Radiohead, who had extraordinarily represented postmodernism, could do it?

Indeed the same “Morning Bell” (from Amnesiac) lost already that frantic race of the capitalist competition and assumes a dramatic tone, even more apocalyptic. After analyzing the western, bourgeois and technologized world, Thom Yorke decides to get out of our “Life in a Glasshouse” and confront what is beyond it. But the vision will not be pleasant. It’s the one that he gives us in Like Spinning Plates.

From the beginning of the song emerges a distressing, disturbing background (the fast sounds reminiscent of a machine gun, the “wider” ones similar to grenades), which anticipates a raw text:

While you make pretty speeches
I’m being cut to shreds
You feed me to the lions
A delicate balance

And this just feels like spinning plates
I’m living in cloud cuckoo land
And this just feels like spinning plates
My body is floating down the muddy river

Today more than ever these words strike straight to the heart: the search for a human solution to prevent these innocent deaths in the water (for which Europe and the Western world, with its history and its politics, is largely responsible). So trying to configure a new geopolitical figurations of power is the right way to state the prevalence of life, of human life. Let’s not forget what’s important.

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