While you make pretty speeches
I'm being cut to shreds
You feed me to the lions
A delicate balance

And this just feels like spinning plates
I'm living in cloud cuckoo land
And this just feels like spinning plates
My body's floating down the muddy river


Lyrics submitted by shut, edited by irondeep, SpyMachine, Trifonas, Jordz600, millert140, FritzHaber

Like Spinning Plates song meanings
Add your thoughts

100 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +4
    Song MeaningI'd say that rather than reading the song from a political perspective the song should be read from the 'Amnesiac' album's subject matter. At that time, Thom Yorke was fascinated by Greek and Egyptian mythologies, more precisely in the abyssal dimensions of their netherworlds. I claim that the song is about the art making process which can sometimes turn to be an ordeal for the artist. The netherworld or art making process should be regarded in this sense as an unbearable and impossible void where the humans or art work are stripped of all of their notions of identity and also where the artist should go through a tortuous trial before transforming or being reborn into a new art form.

    It is important to remark that the song itself is composed of 'negative' parts of the song "I Will" and the lyrics were meant to sound 'backwards' as well. Out of the frustration of not achieving a satisfying outcome, the band members played it backwards providing an unexpected but pleasing melody. The parallelism here is that of Duat or egyptian netherworld where the dead have to pass gates guarded by grotesque spirits or in another words which directly alludes to the unsymbolizable aspect of exhaustive process. This is why Yorke sings 'i'm being cut to shreds' and 'feed to the lions'; we cannot help but feel victims of oppressive demands. After passing this stage comes a more spiritual trial with the 'Weighting of the heart', in which Anubis weights human hearts against the weight of a feather in order to pass, therefore having to reach a 'delicate balance' in order to match the weight of a feather. We see that in order to continue that tedious distilling process one is forced by an otherness that can almost make you feel 'like spinning plates' in order to live up the expectations.

    At the end of the song he says "my body is floating down the river" which alludes to Lethe or the Greek mythological river of forgetfulness which Yorke connects to the gnostic notion of being stripped from memories of perfection to evade the trauma of the material world. Whether arriving to a hell or being reincarnated into our world, the dead has been 'reborn' in strict sense in the same analogous way of "I will" being reborn into a dark and abyssal "Like spinning plates".

    Likewise in Laurent Briet's unpublished music video the spectator is taken to a journey through a panning in a dark abandoned parking like place, resembling the journey in the river to the netherworld which waters are claimed to erase all of your memories if drunk..After a passage of light painting mythological motifs and anthropomorphic shades we finally arrive at the destination in which a materialised version of those shadows is standing. Almost like things emanating from a pure world of ideas we are finally able to witness the sublime negativity of Radiohead's art making process.
    DanielKimon September 13, 2012   Link
  • +3
    My InterpretationI watched a documentary on the Genocide in Rwanda in 1994 tonight. On my walk home from campus I hit the shuffle button on my Ipod and this song came on. I had never made an effort to analyze the song beyond personal meaning until tonight. After viewing the screening of a 2 hour documentary that offered an aesthetic insight to the brutality that occurred during the 100 days of Genocide in Rwanda. PBS Frontline exposed how domestic politics in the U.S and other major western powers stood in the way of any sufficient mobilization of troops for an intervention. We shit the bed (Regardless of what happened in Somalia)

    While you make pretty speeches
    I'm being cut to shreds
    You feed me to the lions
    A delicate balance

    And this just feels like spinning plates
    I'm living in cloud cuckoo land
    And this just feels like spinning plates
    My body's floating down the muddy river


    The song was written in response to Rwanda, but it certainly can be applied to it. The inequality gap that separates the modern world from the other 60% who live on less than 2 dollars a day is reality. Equality is a Utopian idea that will never be achieved, people will always be exploited.
    Kmeveretton November 12, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General Commenti just listened to it backwards!! ITS CRAZY!!!! btw you use audacity to reverse it. what you do is you drag the song into audacity. press ctrl+a -> then click effect and reverse. it'll then reverse it! woo
    jimzeron March 13, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentTry the live version, it's much better than the album version. Fans: tis (live) song is really awesome, the piano....great!
    Don Jeroneon December 12, 2001   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI read somewhere it's about children being trapped in wars. The final line backs that up.....and also the line about pretty speeches. You could extend the children analogy to the innocent in general.

    Has anyone seen the video? I'm trying to download it from somewhere, but to no avail.

    This is one of the best live songs I've ever seen. The crowd just seemed to be silent, even though they never are.
    nomishoodon January 17, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song reminds me of the film Hotel Rwanda. Like it's being sung from the perspectvie of a Rwandan and the second person (you) in the song are the Americans or British (the white superpowers who did nothing to stop the slaughter). It really fits quite nicely with the lyrics if you think about it:

    "While you make pretty speeches
    I'm being cut to shreds
    You feed me to the lions
    A delicate balance"

    People talk about doing things, and they gloss over and sugar coat what's going on. Therefore it's as if they themselves, in their ignorance, were 'feeding to the lions' other people.

    "And this just feels like spinnin' plates
    I'm livin' in cloud cuckoo land
    And this just feels like spinnin' plates
    My body's floatin' down the muddy river"

    And it never stops and no one does anything. My body's floating down a river and no one cares. No one again meaning the Americans or the British or whatever other powers could have stepped in but didn't.
    MuadDibon March 12, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentRemember the cloud cukoo land remark that Thatcher made about the Apartheid in South Africa? Well I don't cos I'm too young, but that reaffirms the poilitical nature of this song, and the posts on this page are right to emphasise the annoyance that is expressed in the song behind our inability to stop the suffering which is caused by politicians who do nothing but make pretty speeches. how long, indeed, can these western politicians continue to do nothing. and how much longer can we manage to let them pretend they are doing something? quite a trick really, a little like spinning plates, i suppose.
    smothon November 21, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is written from the perspective of someone, or a people, who are helpless to repel those who are illegitimately or immorally pushing them towards extinction. They are crying out for aid, but are being overlooked by those who have the power to make a difference in favour of an empty, media-friendly rhetoric designed to win votes.

    See the Palestinians
    Isonon January 12, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song always puts me in that place where you feel like you're going to cry, and you just fucking can't. How beautiful....
    Elysium18on November 09, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI just came here to comment on exactly the thing that the previous poster did: that the live version of this song is incredible! Playing the melody on a piano was brilliant; and Thom's singing floats over it, hauntingly--it's just plain beautiful, to put it shortly.

    When I first heard the live version (off of the "I Might Be Wrong" live recordings), I didn't know what song it was until Thom started singing...and after that I was just blown away.
    Kilgoreon January 16, 2002   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain