June 1997
Length: 4:44
Disc: OK Computer
Tablature: Guitar | Bass

Other Versions:
Fila Brazillia Mix - Karma Police single CD2 | Lucky French Promo
Zero 7 Mix - Karma Police single CD2
Cover by Motor Industries - Plastic Mutations LP
Cover by Diva Destruction - Anyone Can Play Radiohead Tribute LP
String Version - Strung Out On OK Computer

This is the first track in the band's repertoire to be described as "scary." It relies heavily on strings, but not in the conventional way. The string section, covered by Jonny alone, features 16 different violins playing quarter tones apart from each other.

The audience's cue that the band is about to play this song live comes when Jonny pulls out a small radio and begins tuning it to different stations. During the band's sound checks, Jonny locates classical-music or news-oriented local radio stations, and uses these -never rock stations- to execute Climbing Up the Walls. "I spent about 20 minutes tuning in some local radio stations before the show," Jonny Greenwood said. "There’s always the danger that Huey Lewis and the News are going to turn up in an inappropriate part of the song -- but that’s all part of the fun, I suppose."

A very slow, and very eerie song, Thom's vocals have been altered by computer to give off a more distorted and scary effect. The lyrics are particularly creepy, and some of Radiohead's best. The song is about the monster in your head, and about all your fears coming to reality. It's slow in tempo to begin with, but towards the end picks up some pace as a horrible howling wind sound competes with distorted guitars and voilins, not to mention Thom screeching the lyric 'Climbing up the walls'.

I am the key to the lock in your house
That keeps your toys in the basement
And if you get too far inside
You'll only see my reflection
It's always best when the choir is out
I am the pick in the ice
Do not cry out or hit the alarm
You know we're friends till we die

And either way you turn
I'll be there
Open up your skull
I'll be there
Climbing up the walls

It's always best when the light is off
It's always better on the outside
Fifteen blows to the back of your head
Fifteen blows to your mind

So lock the kids up safe tonight
Shut the eyes in the cupboard
I've got the smell of a local man
Who's got the loneliest feeling

That either way he turns
I'll be there
Open up your skull
I'll be there

Climbing up the walls

Climbing up the walls
Climbing up the walls
Thom Yorke "This is about the unspeakable. Literally skull-crushing. I used to work in a mental hospital around the time that Care In The Community started, and we all just knew what was going to happen. And it's one of the scariest things to happen in this country, because a lot of them weren't just harmless... It was hailing violently when we recorded this. It seemed to add to the mood. Some people can't sleep with the curtains open in case they see the eyes they imagine in their heads every night burning through the glass. Lots of people have panic buttons fitted in their bedrooms so they can reach over and set the alarm off without disturbing the intruder. This song is about the cupboard monster" - Thom

"Some people don't dare to sleep with the window open, because they're afraid that the monsters that they see in their imagination will come inside. This song is about the monster in the closet... I found the sentence "the crack of the waning smile / 15 blows to the skull" after I had read in the New York Times that 8 out of 10 mass murderers in American history committed their crimes after 1980 and that they were all males between 30 and 40, who had just lost their job or had just been through a divorce." - Thom

Jonny Greenwood
"For the 'white noise' flashes at the end, we used 16 violins that were just not playing the same. It may sound blasé but we were a bit fed up with rock arrangements. They haven't evolved since 'Eleanor Rigby' of The Beatles. We discoverd the Polish composer Penderécki. Since than, all we do is steal from him!" *smiles* - Jonny

Ed O'Brien "We recorded the song in the house of actress Jane Seymour in Bath, where The Cure recorded 'Wild Mood Swings'. We recorded in the library. That's were the er...'gothical' mood of the song comes from." - Ed
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