Knives Out Lyrics - Radiohead

Review The Song (24)

I want you to know
He's not coming back
Look into my eyes
I'm not coming back

So knives out
Catch the mouse
Don't look down
Shove it in your mouth

If you'd been a dog
They would've drowned you at birth

Look into my eyes
It's the only way you'll know I'm telling the truth

So knives out
Cook him up
Squash his head
Put him in the pot

I want you to know
He's not coming back
He's bloated and frozen
Still there's no point in letting it go to waste

So knives out
Catch the mouse
Squash his head
Put him in the pot

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What this song is REALLY about | Reviewer: Koenig541 | 12/12/12

Thom Yorke introduces this song to be about cannibalism. No, it's not about a bad break up, and no, it's not about loneliness. You forget that these are the people whom the book "No Logo" had a big effect on. This is about the seemingly spiritual-less qualities that the modern American has today. We are a consumer nation living in a McDonaldized culture world; we figuratively "eat" other people, through consuming and exploiting others' feelings, labor, thoughts, and mess-ups. Instead of acting humanely and helping others, we turn each other in for profit. Knives out people... :)

Thom Y's Knife | Reviewer: AJ | 4/20/11

It would seem there are reflections of cold, dark bitter past that has seeped into the British culture, RadioHead especially Thom Y. seems to be especially in contact with this - “Knives Out” is a hollow tale either literal or figurative with chilling cannibalistic overtones- it speaks of a startling desperation allegorized in morbid starvation- be that of the mind, body, or soul. Thom Y. seems to wail of an intense scarring memory of fear and loneliness - a loss of pride and hope and a suppression of apathy and shame. The song suggests a dark image of flesh feasting and the loathness of spiritual starvation prevalent in modern culture- that love and hate are equal in some measure to mankind’s desire to consume at any cost- and is subject to abject degeneration down to the sub-human level. The song is a tale of caution, of the human emotion and the pitfalls therein - it suggests that Thom Y. has his hand and his heart on its pulse.

Gorgeous | Reviewer: Peter | 12/10/10

I love Radiohead. This song is such a great example of what is beautiful about this band. The argument here exemplifies it as well. Superficially, this song very WELL could be about a cat catching a mouse. Dig a little deeper and it could (which I personally believe) be about a messy break up. That is what is so great about Radiohead; their ability to reflect the emotions of the audience without being a canvas of nothingness, i.e. Justin Bieber! lol. Can we get a big shout out to Johny's guitar playing here?! Such an inspiration for any player!

universal words | Reviewer: marvin | 5/26/10

This song is about the way to end a relationship
If it ends, put out your knives, say everything you have to say, do everything you have to do: "there's no point in letting it go to waste"
Sorry for the bad english, but these words are universal, i know this IS the right meaning, because...i'm currently living these feelings

Communal anger | Reviewer: Anonymous | 3/12/10

I always though 'kinvies out' as people showing therre teeth; as angry. Like in a cineam or theatre play when people collectively get abgry and display this. Thisd is when I feel people have their knives out' Ready to kill.

Tom and Jerry | Reviewer: Earache | 3/6/10

Bahhh, you all are reading too much into the poetry here. This song is about a cat devouring a mouse. Anyone who's ever witnessed this knows it's a pretty dark experience. The knives are the cats teeth. The cat is just bummed because his play thing stopped moving and isn't coming back. Now he's putting him in the pot, sticking the mouse in his mouth.

interpretation | Reviewer: Anonymous | 1/18/10

This song is about a bad breakup. The "mouse" in the end is revealed to also be the singer. He is clearly full of hatred for the "ex", with the vitriolic line about being drowned at birth. This song is not about cannibalism, the mouse is a metaphor, and he has been squashed. Great diminished chords in this song by the way.

Survival ? | Reviewer: Mic | 1/4/10

I kinda think it could be about cannibalism too.
Something tragic has taken place, they've got to survive, and nothing else is available so (get your) "Knives Out".."Don't look down ,shove it in your mouth". Whatever it is (person or a mouse) they've got to survive by eating it.

the end | Reviewer: Anonymous | 8/22/09

To me it's the end of a relationship, it's when there have been so many bad things that there isn't a way back, no matter how much u have loved that person.
The mouse could be the feelings of anger or sadness or maybe the love that u still feel after all but u have to swallow them because there's nothing left to do or say... it's over and u know it is.

I agree | Reviewer: Anonymous | 8/22/09

I think the "mouse" is a metaphor for who the "I" in the song used to be. I hear it that way because of the parallel between "He's not coming back" and "I'm not coming back" at the beginning.

It sounds like the narrator's really struggled with his decision to give up on whoever he's talking to. It sounds like he's finally given up on defending himself from being "eaten" by an insensitive partner who he once trusted. He lets them impose their own unfair and selfish interpretations of his intentions to make sense of their own lives narrowmindedly, so that the injustice of his situation stops "eating" at him.

By letting himself be a "mouse" to them, by allowing a part of himself to be caught, cooked, eaten, disregarded, belittled, consumed, destroyed, he is able to finally detach himself from a painful internal struggle which he now sees is pointless. You can hear the last trace of venom he allows himself to feel in "If you'd been a dog//they would've drowned you at birth." He realizes that he can't make them see how they've hurt him, either by pleading or by anger, so he makes the difficult decision to give up on being involved at all. (Or maybe I'm just hearing all this because of personal experience... does it make any sense?)

Going Under the Knife | Reviewer: Mr K. Tootnoy | 4/9/09

I've been pouring over this one.

I enjoyed the story about the diminutive horse ejected from the race in bows and garlands, it seems like heart-wrenching tragedy but perhaps only from the horse's perspective (if only she could talk). It would have broken the anglo-Irish gentleman's heart too, but I think he'd have got over it in time, for the rest of us, I don't think anti-depressants are necessary. At least the gentleman acquired a new companion.

"Knives Out", like most of Radiohead's opus, has no real antidote, the music resonates with the uncompromisingly incredulous inner child and usually asks or rather demands the solutions to more questions than it answers. Like Goya's "Tragedy of War' series (or for that matter his "Los Caprichos") it needs to know "?por que?" it is staged by caricature which only adds to the almost slapstick quality of the tragedy. The human condition, of which painful relationships are an intrinsic part of, is a tragedy. In my view, Tom Yorke and Radiohead in "Knives out" have managed to articulate the sound of a hundred thousand hearts breaking at once and the loss, aloneness and stupor following losing someone you completely loved, perhaps in a very childlike condition. Yes, personal experience talking, and no, she didn't die or have an operation.

Well, the knives in "knives out" seem to have a dual meaning to me, perhaps this is due in part to a third interpretation, that of the film director. Nonetheless, I made a connection between the "knives are out" in the Shakespearian Julius Ceaser sense (et tu, Brutus?) and the relationship souring when the couple fight in the train compartment, her with the knife, him with the lump hammer. She also "goes under the knife" in the wonderful operation game scene, is this revenge or more likely a dissection of the relationship and her after the break up?

The medical theme in the video for me is especially poignant (I work in operating theatres); I have also occasionally interpreted the sound of articulating a "hundred thousand breaking hearts" also as the sound of a soul "in extremis" (at the point of death). There are parallels between having your hope denied by love and the feeling of life as a futile exercise, therefore you have reached death in life. I once treated a man who arrived for emergency surgery. As he arrived into the theatre, before he was anaesthetised, he held my hand, looked into my eyes and said "I'm so glad to see you". He died shortly afterwards during the operation despite our best efforts to save him.

Clearly there is a lot to music that can articulate the more macabre and not talked about emotions, and the macabre isn't necessarily sick or twisted, just another part of the human condition.

Many thanks for reading.

Cannibalism in Knives Out? | Reviewer: Anonymous | 4/8/09

I thought that this song was about how somehow several are trapped somewere cold with nothing to eat or drink and that they have to eat their friend who is on the verge of death. I also thought the thing about looking into the persons eyes was the 1000 yard stare where when you look into there eyes and you know they're going to die. Well at least I though it was about cannibalism. It might've been about the business who leaves his family like everyone else is saying and it's just my fucked up little mind.

meaning | Reviewer: Anonymous | 9/3/08

for me this song is about an anglo-irish gent in the 1880's who buys a pretty filly and, having decked her out with gay garlands and roses, takes her to the tracks to enter her into the races. But she is disqualified on account of her small stature! :( this is why this is a sad song.

horse | Reviewer: Anonymous | 9/2/08

I have always understood this song to be about a Dublin gentlemen in the 1800's, who buys a pretty filly and decks her out with roses and garlands. he takes her to the races to enter her into competition but she is disqualified from entering due to her height. This is this is such so sad the song. But maybe this is just my interpretation.

my thoughts | Reviewer: Anonymous | 8/14/08

I believe a previous poster on 9/1/2007 is almost bang on with his interpretation.

The most blatant/obvious theme is bitterness from lines like:

"Look into my eyes I'm not coming back" and
"If you'd been a dog They would've drowned you at birth"

I think it's safe to say it's bitterness over a relationship.

I disagree with the cannibalism analogy theory. I believe the mouse is a metaphor for his broken heart.

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