Beating around the bush | Reviewer: AN
The entire point of the song exists only in meta-narrative, which is that he can't bring himself to drop the mask that he uses to communicate with the unnamed "you".
The first verse is about artificial things, and it allows him to move toward the topic, but the entire verse is just a façade, because he's hiding behind taking about fake plants instead of talking about anything important. He couldn't care less about the stupid plant, it's merely absurd. Likewise the rubber man and town. Absurd, but intentionally cliched.
the evolving refrain is about the emotional cost of not being able to drop the artifice and be real, but she's using the woman, then the man merely as proxies for himself.
In the second verse, he moves to artificial people, fake breasts and such. By moving from inanimate objects to people, he has dropped a layer of artifice, but it has simply revealed a new layer underneath -- the man, the implants -- none of that is remotely the point, just extending the theme of presenting a false front to others.
The song kicks into gear after the second refrain because it has moved from being abstract to being raw and emotional. The swell of string, the force in his voice, he's getting closer.
But the third verse is another mask as well. By using his "fake plastic love" as yet another proxy, he gives himself another example -- and it's close, because it's about people presenting false fronts to each other, but he still hasn't dropped the last mask.
In the third refrain, it's finally him that it wears out, not his "love," but it's not because she is being false, it's because he is.
Finally, at the very end, he's able to allude to what he's trying to say, with "if I could be who you wanted / all the time" -- that's why this section is sung with so much raw emotional pain that it's hard to listen to.
But even then, he can't bring himself to say it. If he could be who the object wanted all the time, then what? He never spells it out, because he can't, that's the point of the song.
If he could be who they wanted, then he could actually stop pretending, drop all the masks, and simply say what he feels. But he simply can't, so all he can do is hint at it. And the pretending is destroying him, i.e. wearing him out.
Absolutely my favorite song of all time, a heartbreaking masterpiece.
my 10 cents | Reviewer: Anonymous | 4/18/09
I agree that it has to do with how superficial the world can be, particularly with relationships. There's times when people try to change themselves just to fit someone else's form of perfection and end up being as fake as platic.
-plastic world | Reviewer: Anonymous | 4/1/09
To me, I think he is saying the whole world's fake. We are living in a superficial plastic world and he clearly doesnt want to be part of it and disagress with it. However he is forced to be by the people around him and its killing him inside being something he isn't.
Its like he is saying we cant be plastic but for some reason we want to be.
3 persons | Reviewer: mandy
i think this song tells a story about 3 persons, who is living a fake life. the girl is somewhat fed up with all the fake plans and people around her, so is the man, he is tired of seeing how there are so many fake people and the fact that he is also being a superficial by helping those people being fake, eventhough he doesnt want to. and the "i" person is in realtionship where he cant be himself because of the girl he loves, and it wears him out.
Fake Plastic Trees | Reviewer: Blah | 3/22/09
The song is just another part of the theme of The Bends: how success isn't what it's cracked up to be. When Radiohead's HIT single Creep launched them in the spotlight, it was too quick for the band. "The Bends" is all about how fame is really like "Fake Plastic Trees", with fake Chinese trees and implants and fake love. Thom's "love" wants him to be superficial, but he simply can't.
This song is about the world and reality that we currently live in; a reality that is created in our minds gradually since birth. I think most of us basically derive our reality from social "norms" and philosophies promoted in our society today. This song alludes to the fact that our world today is superficial and commercial. It has given us plastic christmas trees, breast implants, and juiced up athletes. Consequently, we have neglected nature and the natural. I think this song is about how society today, especially our consumer driven society, makes it increasingly difficult to satisfy our needs, wants, goals, dreams. It wears us out..
Loving storyteller | Reviewer: Me | 3/1/09
I think that the one telling the story is in love with the girl. He is dying to tell her but cannot. In stead he is content with what he has, which is a normal life. He is not pretending, which is what the two persons the song is about are doing. This means that he kind of is satisfied with what he has. 'He bursts through the ceiling, if he wanted to', but he knows it's better just to turn and run. Because the fake plastic trees in the world of the two persons are here to stay. He knows he is better of with what he has (the storyteller).
such a beautiful song. | Reviewer: Jen | 2/23/09
The girl is hopelessly tryig to make a difference in the world, while her mate is trying to make happy all of the people who don't like what they look like. All the while they are empty in love content with a dead relationship.
Implants? | Reviewer: bryce
Did no one else see a pretty clear reference to plastic implants? "He used to do surgery
For girls in the eighties But gravity always wins."
I agree with the other reviewers though. Its just an additional way of being fake, is to enhance your image through plastic surgery.
my inturp. | Reviewer: Adam Sofia BG | 1/30/09
The song is about a person (man or woman) who is still in love with someone who is no longer in love with him. He tries to have other relationships but he fakes his way through them with his fake plastic love. It wares him out every time and every fake plastic relationship ends because he is not fulfilled with the real thing. He just wants to be loved by the person who no longer loves him the way she used to.
Tired | Reviewer: Anonymous | 1/26/09
Yes, it's true that this song is somewhat about the superficial facade that many people put on, but it is really about what that does to those same people on the inside. "It wears (her, him, me) out. It's talking about how the need to be somebody, something other than what you really are takes a toll on you.
I may be completely wrong but still XD | Reviewer: A Glow Worm | 1/7/09
I reckon this song is about people in general, in relationships and also in some stages in life. Just trying not to be who you really are, being fake to hide your faults or something like that. And this can affect relationships.
If I could be who you wanted... | Reviewer: Hardy | 12/15/08
This is a great masterpiece! Some people correlate this with relationship and stuff, but to me personally, this song is basically dedicated to how you would feel on living a fake life, trying to be not who you really are, because the world and most of the people breathing its air wants you to be like everybody else.. And even though everyone else, men and women, decided to live fake, you're just too frustrated to follow everybody, thus the line: If I could be who you wanted, all the time..
. | Reviewer: . | 12/14/08
this song shows that some things are just not meant to be. this song shows what life is.there are no reasons to be happy, no reason to be sad, no reasons to be anything.and when you get down to the bone, everything is fake.i believe everybody should follow their passion, and that must be a person's sole purpose in this life. what else do we live for?
cowardice | Reviewer: mark
both the characters in this song are surrounded by fakeness, a relationship where the love is gone. its all fake now, but they are both too coward to break up, they are clinging to this dead relationship because neither can take the plunge and end it. and it wears them both out. he thought that if he could be everything she wanted it could be better, but it never is. he gave up on fixing her just the same as he gave up on fixing the girls in the eighties, and he gave up on fixing himself because its never good enough for her, the fixes are all fake. and hes too coward to give up.