Songs I can’t get enough of #5: “4 Minute Warning” – Radiohead

Radiohead. *happy sigh*

Let’s just get this out of the way: I absolutely adore Radiohead. Radiohead is my favorite band in the last 20 years…maybe of all time. I’ve enjoyed every album they put out, I’ve seen them in concert multiple times, and I enjoy Thom Yorke’s solo projects. I’m a huge fan…even if they’re depressing 95% of the time…it’s a beautiful depression.

If you don’t have the second disc of In Rainbows, then you are missing out on a number of excellent songs. The last four songs (“Last Flowers To The Hospital”, “Up On The Ladder”, “Bangers & Mash”, and “4 Minute Warning” ) are strong enough to be on the first disc, but are such a pleasant bonus on the second disc.

Today, I’m going to discuss a song off of the second disc of In Rainbows…”4 Minute Warning”

“4 Minute Warning” Lyrics:

This is just a nightmare
Soon I’m going to wake up
Someone’s going to bring me around
Running from the bombers
Hiding in the forest
Running through the field
Laying flat on the ground
Just like everybody
Stepping over heads
Running from the underground

This is your warning
Four minute warning

I don’t want to hear it
I don’t want to know
I just want to run and hide
This is just a nightmare
Soon I’m going to wake up
Someone’s going to bring me around

This is a warning
Four minute warning

According to Wikipedia, the Four-minute warning was, “a public alert system conceived by the British Government during the Cold War and operated between 1953 and 1992 when the system was dismantled after the cold war ended. The name derived from the approximate length of time from the point at which a Soviet nuclear missile attack against the United Kingdom could be confirmed and the impact of those missiles on their targets. The population was to be notified by means of air raid sirens, television and radio, and urged to seek cover immediately.”

That’s pretty fucked up…and the lyrics reflect such a “nightmare’…

Running from the bombers
Hiding in the forest
Running through the field
Laying flat on the ground
Just like everybody
Stepping over heads
Running from the underground

Running from the bombers, running for your life, running over other people to save your own life…shear terror.  “Running from the underground”…running from your own grave…death…hell.  Such terror that it has to be a nightmare…it can’t be real, it’s surreal…it has to be a dream, but it isn’t. And you can’t hide from it, you can only hope someone wakes you up.

Now maybe this is a literal description of nuclear annihilation, or maybe it’s just a metaphor of his own life. Maybe he’s been given a warning in his life…maybe an ultimatum. An ultimatum that he never wanted to happen, maybe an end to a relationship, maybe receiving news of a death of a loved one, maybe his own death…

A nightmare that is so terrifying that he compares it to nuclear warfare. How powerfully depressing is that?! After reviewing the 1st verse it seems like a song to echo the cold war, but looking at the 2nd verse:

I don’t want to hear it
I don’t want to know
I just want to run and hide
This is just a nightmare
Soon I’m going to wake up
Someone’s going to bring me around

Seems like he’s avoiding a heartbreaking truth that is being revealed to him. The devastation is too much and must be avoided..he doesn’t want to know… he just wants to run away and hide. Something so powerful that he has no control over it. He’s just hoping that someone will bring him around…because he can’t bring himself around. Total personal destruction. How many of us have been there? (Raises hand)

So maybe this song is about the Four-minute warning from Cold War…or maybe this is a Four-minute warning about a bomb that is about to drop on your life, your heart, or maybe your soul. Maybe it’s both. Either way, it’s a nugget of gold on the second disc of In Rainbows…and I can’t get enough of it.

By the way, even though the track time is 4:06, the song ends after 4 minutes (beautiful, eh?)…so what is the significance of the remaining 6 seconds? Being buried 6 feet under? I don’t know…but that’s how I like to interpret it.

-fw

Advertisements

About fuzzywuzzy

Music Addict

Posted on December 1, 2010, in Songs I Can't Get Enough Of and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Love your theory on the remaining 6 seconds of this wonderful song

  1. Pingback: Happy Anniversary Quantization! « Quantization

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: