"Knives Out" as written by and Thomas Edward/greenwood Yorke....
I want you to know
He's not coming back
Look into my mouth
I'm not coming back

So knives out
Cut him up
Don't look down
Shove it in your mouth

If you'd been a dog
They would have drowned you at birth
Look into my mouth
It's the only way you'll know I'm telling the truth

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

I want you to know
He's not coming back
His blood is frozen
Still there is no point letting it go to waste

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

Lyrics submitted by shut, edited by xaml, SeaGreen

"Knives Out" as written by Edward John O'brien Colin Charles Greenwood

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Knives Out song meanings
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  • +5
    General CommentI think it could be about social Darwinism, on a national scale. The plaintive way in which Thom sings it, as well as the forceful emotion that is given to the stronger person )or country) devouring the smaller, weaker one, suggests that the better off entity is preying on the less fortunate. Parts of the song such as "If you'd been a dog, they would have drowned you at birth" also reinforce this idea, since they allude to the "runt of the litter" being removed from the equation because it had less of a fighting chance, or as an elimination of competition. It doesn't matter how messy the situation is, whatever imperialistic predator this could be about is ready to drain them to sustain itself.
    NeonTheReaperon October 25, 2010   Link
  • +4
    General CommentThis song is about social darwinism. Essentially it describes the idea that once must kill or be killed, eat or be eaten.
    nightswimmeron May 29, 2007   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI love this song nearly to death, then again, I love every Radiohead song nearly to death.

    I remember living in my old house, watching the video, waiting for my best friend to come to my house, she was walking, she never knocks, she just comes in.

    I have a big screen so you can see it perfectly from a distance, and I was alone watching Knives Out, that just came on MuchMusic.

    Just as the part where Thom Yorke is half mouse/half man, where his head is the microphone was on, she came in, looked at what I was watching and gave me the strangest look. Now, she always has to pick what we watch.

    Anyway the song is brilliant.
    xxidiotequeon March 19, 2003   Link
  • +3
    General Comment
    Knives out is about people using each other to get what they want, and cannibalizing on people who are down.

    "Knives out, cook him up, squash his head, put him in the pot"
    "He's bloated and frozen still there's no point in letting him go to waste."

    Like the business owner who discovers that another local business has a problem with criminal activity because the owner doesn't serve cops and claims to the public "our business is crime-free! cops are always welcome here!".

    "Don't look down. Shove it in your mouth"

    On the same theme of social cannibalism, it also mentions people who know they must feed on the suffering of others, but do not like to think about it that way, such as the big business who poaches all of a smaller businesses clients just to stay afloat, destroying the small business in the process.

    "Look into my eyes. I'm not coming back."

    This song also touches on people abandoning others (presumably friends and families).
    Hazencruzon June 24, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI always thought from the video that it was about a tumultuous relationship dying, and looking back on it. For instance, watching the scene on the train where they use different weapons (hurting each other) and then he proposes. Almost a likeness to "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."

    It may make references to cannibalism, but I really think it's an analogy, not the point of the song.
    yellowstaron September 30, 2004   Link
  • +2
    Song MeaningIt would seem there are reflections of a cold, dark and bitter past that has seeped into the British psyche and many British artists especially RadioHead and Thom Yorke seem to be in contact with this - “Knives Out” is a perfect illustration of this influence, it 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 pitfalls therein - it suggests that Thom Y. has his hand and his heart on its pulse.
    satyr42on April 20, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentOh wait.... i come back to say one more thing. I think it might be about a retarded kid (no offence to anyone by saying "retarded") but i think the kid didn't know how to treat the pet rat and he killed it. I think the dad is just gonna leave the kid becuase hes tired of him. You know how they make little kids look u in the eye when u talk to them? well thats what hes doing. making sure he understands. Thats also why they say they wouldve drowned him at birth if he was a dog.
    l337MonkeyCrapon September 12, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think it is a song about a person that is like a cat. who never attatches itself to anyone but has many lovers and uses them to gain something whether its sex or security or whatever and is allowed to because its a cat, and is expected to and who falls in love with someone who is cold and narcisitic because they can give it what it wants, and in a desperate act that someone tries not to care about it, so that they wont have to be lonely anymore. and tries to change it so it will love them unconditionally.
    but it could be that i just saw the unbearible lightness of being, which is a good movie by the way.and they had a dog in that movie that they loved more perfectly than they did eachother.
    UnemployedDaysleepeon March 25, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General CommentBtw, there is quite solid proof that Albedo's interpretation is right:

    "If you'd been a dog
    They would have drowned you at birth"
    Vertigo22on June 03, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIn order to understand this song you have to be familiar with Alternative Rock to the Max. Radiohead being from the Manchester Scene, you must look back at all their influencers particularly the Smiths.

    This Song is a tribute to the Smiths on two levels. Lyricaly: It is about animal cruelty, As you probably know, Morrissey is an avid Animal rights Activist, look at the Meat is "Murder Album".

    But what makes this song most beautiful, is the fact that the actual sound is matched to Johnny Marr(also of the Smiths)'s Guitar style, his beautiful yet sadistic light guitar is captured beautifully,

    In all this song is a Masterpeice, a beautiful tribute to the Smiths.
    MarcelDwayneon October 21, 2004   Link

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