Climbing Up The Walls Lyrics - Radiohead

Review The Song (35)



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 candle's out,
I am the pick in the ice.
Do not cry out or hit the alarm,
You know we're friends 'til 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,
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Fifteen blows to your mind.

So lock the kids up safe tonight
And shut the eyes in the cupboard.
I've got the smile 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



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Thanks to Rutger Schimmel for submitting Climbing Up The Walls Lyrics.
awesome | Reviewer: radhead | 8/14/14

Lyrics are always yoopen to interpretation. I suffer from severe anxiety/panic disorder. To me this song is like that part of my brain speaking to me. Its really intense. Its so bad ive contimplated suicide. "even in the end ill be there". Strangley how my outlook on the lyrics may seem low. It helps a lot. Like it calms that part of my brain.

5am | Reviewer: Asabikeshiinh | 1/21/13

I think maybe this song could be about your conscience. It's the part inside of you that you can never lie to, even if you can't admit the truth to anyone else. It's what keeps you awake at night, gnawing away at the back of your mind.
You keep it buried deep down, but it will be there until you die.
Either way you turn, it's there.

Other lyrics... | Reviewer: Anonymous | 12/24/11

There are other lyrics inside the Album Booklet that are not sung on the song. They reflect the same feeling as the rest of the song, but maybe there's more to them than I'm seeing...

Anyway, the first different line pops up in the booklet right after the line "you'll only see my reflection". They read exactly as
">>>>>?i am) her face when sshe sleeps tonight<<<<<?"
(no typos, I swear)
The entire print of the lyrics are like this for this song, with typos, ludicrous amounts of spaces, and random symbols. The other prints of lyrics of the other songs have the same kind of pattern, but not to the degree of "Climbing Up The Walls".

After the first chorus of "I'll be there/Climbing up the walls", there is a long paragraph of absolute gibberish.
"cvuudidsridfidfidfivdfikbdg..." you get the idea. After three lines of that, the lyrics resume.

After "Its always better on the outside" comes more gibberish, and yet another unsung line:
"<iticfubiflpfibnofns in ttttttttttthe crack of your waning smile>".

And finally, one of the stranger instances is the exclusion of "I'm the stench of...", and instead, all that's written is:
"do not cry out or hit <<the panic button>hit the Al Arm"

I'm sure this is just a case of the band changing the lyrics at the last minute, but it's odd...this doesn't occur at all with any of the other lyrics in the booklet. It's as if this is the original draft or something. It's one of the reasons I like this song so much, both the strangeness in how it's played AND how it was typed up. So if anyone wants to make sense out of that, be my guest. I've already said my share.


Not likely but this pops into my head... | Reviewer: Anonymous | 11/6/11

Like someone else said, I think this song is sang from the perspective of a symbolic intruder. And I think it fits that it's someone intruding on a relationship. It definitely feels like this is the backdoor man/woman sending a very sinister message to the significant other who's being cheated on. The affair may have gone bad and this person may have become too obsesive. Likely not what the song is actually about, but it's always been my interpretation.

Thom quoted | Reviewer: alexa | 6/19/11

Thom : “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.”

Me thinks it's: | Reviewer: Tommy Smalls | 4/18/11

I really feel that this is about a person in love with a person in a (troubled) relationship with someone else. The subject of the singers affection turns to him when things go wrong in her relation ship. The singer is convinced he would make a better partner for the person in the relationship. This drives him mad. Hence the title of the song. But that's like, my opinion, man.

Not so much perplexed as I am.. put off humanity (a generalization, naturally) | Reviewer: Eighteen, and I feel I've lived too long.. Having read these reviews, some of which, are nothing more than a reflection of miserable personalities | 3/8/11

Why would anyone feel the need to tell others what to think? Let alone convince them of their personal opinion (as though it's something to go by)? Must we all agree? I think not. For some reason Adolph Hitler vaguely comes to mind.. "Agree with me or die!" seems to be a over-abundant vibe on these sort of sites. I s'pose some petty persons simply cannot live without conflict. "Why of course, fuck acceptance." Clearly appreciation for difference of opinion - for a start - is becoming more and more scarce in this "modern" world. Superficiality, single-mindedness, self-obsession, are just a few words that come to mind.. I also suppose, some people just tire of themselves, and for good reason.
By all means - I believe - people should state their opinions should they feel like doing so. Just, posing your opinions as fact.. Well it just makes you look like a twat.

My Interpretation | Reviewer: Matthew | 2/23/11

I've read a good number of reviews and there was one idea that made the most sense to me. The speaker is fear. As it's been said the song was inspired by Thom's experience in a mental hostpital, I'd say he realized that fear is a type of mental illness or a "demon" that lurks in everyone's head. Fear plagues and takes hold of the subconscious, and controls everything in one's life. Just listening to the sound of the song, it feels sinister and ominous.

"I am the key to the lock in your house
That keeps the toys in the basement."

A house is a common symbol for the mind, each room representing an aspect of one's personality of intellect. "I" being fear saying that he's the key to the lock in your house is saying that fear unlocks (pun intended) the meaning of everything that happens in the mind. Behaviors, actions, and decisions are controlled by fear in some form or another. The next line is fear saying that it's not only there doing bad things. You rely on fear as the structure of your mind, keeping the "toys" locked away and hidden. I assume these are fear's toys, not the person's toys. Fears toys could be anything, but I'd guess they would be insanity, evil thoughts, etc. So he's saying that the person relies on fear. No matter how much you hate it, you can't do anything about it because you can't live without it. I think who the fear is addressing here is society in general, not any specific person.

"And if you get too far inside,
You'll only see my reflection."

No matter how deep inside your own mind you delve in order to find this fear, you'll never actually find it. You'll only see it's reflection as in you'll only see the effects fear has, or the results of fear.

"It's always best when the candle's out
I am the pick in the ice."

Fear is up to no good. Just like crime, pranks, or whatever, fear's evil actions are done in the dark when the candle is out. The second line is a bit harder for me to interpret. I think Thom's using the symbol of a pick in ice as a symbol for the first crack in the sanity of the mind. Fear can pretty easily lead to delusions. What's interesting is that fear seems to be contradicting himself here. Just a bit earlier in the verse, he suggests that fear is what hold sanity together but now it's the first pick. Fear is deceptive.

"Do not cry out or hit the alarm,
You know we're friends 'til we die."

In these lines, fear's taunting its victim saying "It's useless to try to get rid of me, I'm not going anywhere." It's clever how Thom uses the phrase "friends 'til we die" which is commonly used genuinely to mean a friendship is so close that it won't be broken up until one of them dies. It can also be taken literally. You won't be able to get rid of fear until you die. Fear uses "we" because it lives in the person, and will therefore be dying the same death.

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

This works as a good chorus for the song because it encompasses the idea of the song as a whole. Wherever you go, fear will be right there with you, in your head. The "climbing up the walls" part is a continuation of the "pick in the ice" idea. Just as fear's the beginning of the crack in the "ice block" of sanity, it's climbing up the walls of the subconscious, creeping into the conscious mind. It's going to make you go crazy.

"It's always best when the light is off,
It's always better on the outside."

Just like the line "It's always best when the candle's out," these lines are basically repeating the same thing. It's always best (for fear to do his business) in the dark, or hidden away outside.

"Fifteen blows to the back of your head,
Fifteen blows to your mind."

While pretty much saying the same thing as each other, these two lines are an elaboration on the damage fear does to a person and his mind.

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

This is where the song turns a little bit, as we (being addressed as society in general) see fear's process of stalking it's prey. "So lock the kids up safe tonight" because something's about to happen that you don't want them to see. The "eyes in the cupboard" refer to the kids' eyes, supposing that you've hid them away in a cupboard. He probably used this image because it's common in movies. While the bad guy's wandering around the house looking for them, the kids are shown hiding away quietly someplace like a cupboard. So fear is eyeing his next victim, a lonely local man. The song closes on the chorus that's already been analyzed previously.

the lost companion locked up and isolated,and not | Reviewer: jay cash | 2/2/11

Comforting on this flowing emotional string of ambient more truthful emotions that can be hidden, but this piece exposes us in our minds I feel. I think we can all relate to disappointments in companionship on our unpredicted path. Sex..yes, but transports more to somewhere we are locked in a private moment. Can't help but reflecting when I listen. On how we may abandon ourselves, our lovers may unintentionally abandon us to the lonely circle of ourself for some reason. Yet all floating on our struggle and instinct to climb to better ground. No matter who we are, where we are, we find ourselves struggling on climbing out. But the comfort comes from those who we have loved, then, beyong any mental power of control events, we are watched by a remnant of ones that past, in any way, or the hope of a new watchfull compassionate eye. No matter where we may end up,this peice points out, there will always be someone in our past or someone in our futer we can be raw with....no matter where we end up.

In the end | Reviewer: Anonymous | 10/28/10

perception varies. All forms of art are subjective...So it may be about "abuse" or it may be about "Sex." Only Thom Yorke knows why he did what he did and sometime that might not even true. No need to cause a dispute over the greatest song ever.

I am 100% sure | Reviewer: Morley | 10/7/10

This song is about abuse and those lines you pointed out are not at all referring to sex. Its about taking care of your friends and loved ones. The line "Fifteen blows to the back of your head" isn't about sex. It's about those who have been through rough situations and are dealing with their sadness. I'm so confused, the lyrics are right at the top of the page, how could not understand them.

LDZ_PL | Reviewer: Jan | 9/15/10

what are u talking abt. this song is obviously about the sex. I mean, I'm not 100% sure but plz, "toys in the basement" "lock the kids up safe tonight" "it's always best when the light is off" and so on.

Climbing Up the Walls | Reviewer: Anonymous | 7/17/10

This song was inspired by Thoms time he spent working at a mental hospital. Its sung from the perspective of the evil thoughts, demon, or monster thats in your head and has made you lose your mind and become so disturbed.

Don't mind me | Reviewer: Anonymous | 6/23/10

I'm not trying to depict a meaning to this song, though it is one of my favorite Radiohead songs. I've noticed though, that a lot of Thom's lyrics seem to have elements in them that generally relate to each other in some way, shape, or form. A lot of his lyrics could be related to fear or death, or both, and I think he has a deep understanding of both or maybe even a fear of such. Take 'Exit Music for a Movie' or 'Street Spirit (Fade Out)' for an example. Almost as if death and fear is all around him and he wants to escape from it, and this song, it's like he can't escape it.
On a side note, those of you who are calling people dumb for trying to understand the meaning to a song, that's awful and rude and downright immature. Yes, Thom Yorke may be the only person who truly understands what the song means but what's so wrong with other people finding their own meanings to the song?

You're all dumb. | Reviewer: Anonymous | 6/11/10

This song is about fear. Simple as that. Don't try to give it some kind of cryptic, unearthly message ("you WONT know what it means, no matter how smart you think you may be.") or try to act smart or overanylize it in any way.


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