We suck Young Blood.(Your Time is up.)

Track seven from Radiohead's "Hail to the Thief," 2003.

"We suck Young Blood" is was, for a while, my favorite song from "Hail to the Thief." Normally I am not fond of really slow-paced songs, and this one is about as slow as they come, but "We suck Young Blood" is brilliant. Everything in it contributes flawlessly to its effect and tone, and the result is a stunningly sinister five minutes of music, somewhat reminiscent of "Climbing Up The Walls" in its menacing tone if not necessarily its sound. Thom Yorke says it is "about Hollywood."

What follows is a rough description and interpretation of this song. I think it's loose enough not to skew your entire view of the song, if you've heard it before, but if you don't like song interpretations don't say you weren't warned.

This is a scavenger's song, sung for the doomed who can only wait to be picked apart, for those whose time is up. Every aspect of it stinks of hopelessness.

The piano plays a dirge. It staggers, lurches and haltingly descends. At times it sounds like it is about to take on a more optimistic tone, but something sends it stumbling back towards the chopping block.

The bass is ill. Usually the bass is the backbone of a song. This bass flops and wavers, falls down and fails to right itself. Only occasionally does it manage to settle on a note which is in the key of the song, E flat minor.

The hand claps are mocking. They are jarring and unwelcome and out of place. They are the applause that the doomed never had, brought back poisoned and bitter and used as a weapon.

The percussion is nearly nonexistent. It consists, for the most part, of nothing but a single cymbal. It fades out quickly but flickers back to life, sickly and anemic, sounding like labored breathing.

Normally in 4/4 time the first and third beats are accented. Here the hand claps come on the fourth beat of every measure. The cymbal is struck on the second.

Thom Yorke's singing is sinister. He sings in an empty falsetto which creaks and rasps. The lyric reflects a simple desire to feed, eager but patient waiting for the victim to give up.

There is a raucous 15-second instrumental break, during which the brief struggle against plodding inevitability quickly descends into chaos. In its wake lies confusion, empty discord, and a whimpered, futile objection to the empty-grinned scavengers as they begin to swarm.

Radiohead secretly put up posters all over Los Angeles based on the lyrics of this song, masquerading as talent search-like recruitment posters complete with the little tabs with the phone number at the bottom that you tear off. The text on the posters was as follows:


The number 868-4433 corresponds to the letters "to thief" on the number pad on a telephone.

Source: "HAIL TO TO THE MISCHIEF MAKERS!" NME.com. 5 Jun 2003. http://www.nme.com/news/104964.htm

You want lyrics? Buy the CD.

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