"House of Cards" as written by and Thomas Edward/greenwood Yorke....
I don't want to be your friend
I just want to be your lover
No matter how it ends
No matter how it starts

Forget about your house of cards
And I'll do mine
Forget about your house of cards
And I'll do mine

Fall off the table
Get swept under
Denial, denial

The infrastructure will collapse
Voltage spikes
Throw your keys in the bowl
Kiss your husband goodnight

Forget about your house of cards
And I'll do mine
Forget about your house of cards
And I'll do mine

Fall off the table
And get swept under

Denial, denial
Denial, denial
Your ears should be burning
Denial, denial
Your ears should be burning


Lyrics submitted by deryk

"House of Cards" as written by Edward John O'brien Colin Charles Greenwood

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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House of Cards song meanings
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  • +16
    General CommentI don't think this is a typically cryptic Radiohead song. It is, in fact, about a man asking a woman to leave her loveless marriage (house of cards), he in turn will do the same thing and then they will be together.

    The 'your ears should be burning' line refers to the fact that he is always talking about her, and the 'denial' part is because she has stayed in a bad relationship and hasn't become this guys' lover. I don't think he is asking her to have an affair with him... just a love relationship.

    Edited by Mellow_Harsher on May 31 2008, at 03:24PM

    eatenbythewormson July 14, 2006   Link
  • +9
    General CommentThe song is about two people that are in unstable marriages, each a “house of cards”. A man is trying to convince a woman that they should abandon their marriages and become lovers since their marriages will eventually “fall off the table and gets swept under.” He predicts that someday something, “voltage spikes”, will cause her house of cards to collapse, and she will find herself in a loveless marriage. "Throw your keys in the bowl, kiss your husband goodnight" refers to key parties - swinger parties where all the couples throw their car keys into a bowl to swap mates. He ends the song by repeating the word “denial” with the chorus singing “your ears should be burning”- an idiom meaning that someone is talking about you when you are not present. People talk about her being in denial of the reality that her marriage is failing.
    Kundog223on October 16, 2007   Link
  • +6
    General Comment“This is most definitely a love song.”--Thom Yorke
    eatenbythewormson August 11, 2008   Link
  • +4
    General CommentI thought this song was pretty straight forward. I guess not, everyone's interpretations are all so different.

    "I don't wanna be your friend, I just wanna be your lover" Well that seems pretty self-explanitory to me. He is in love with a married woman who is also in love with him. He is telling her to abandon her fears or her "house of cards" as he will his. She fears losing everything and her world falling down around her if she does give in to her feelings for him. So she pretends she doesn't want a deeper relationship that they are just "friends". Which he calls her out on by the whole "denial" part.

    t the idiom "Your ears must be burning" is for when someone is talking about you, so the girl in the song he is singing about should know it's about her.
    Polbean80on November 28, 2007   Link
  • +4
    General CommentHere's my take on the song. It's about someone that he's in love with, who is already in another relationship. He's probably also in a relationship and feels trapped. He is trying to convince her to leave her husband/boyfriend because she'll be happier with him.

    "I don't wanna be your friend
    I just wanna be your lover"

    He acts as if they're friends, because he has to.

    "No matter how it ends
    No matter how it starts"

    Basically he doesn't care about the repercussions, if her/his current lovers get hurt, or even if they hurt each other in the end.

    "Forget about your house of cards
    And I'll do mine"

    Once again, this is about the idea of not worrying about the consequences of doing this, because their current situations are a 'house of cards', bound to collapse anyway. But he does not want to take this step alone, he is afraid that he might show his feelings for her and that she will not do the same.

    "Fall off the table,
    And get swept under"

    I think the table refers to a 'solid structure' and safety in life, like a dinner or kitchen table that you'll find in most suburban homes. He encouraging her to 'fall of the table' or take a wild chance and 'get swept under', experience life from a difference perspective.

    "Denial, denial"

    This is the heart of this song. He is referring to her denial of what's she wants in life and the instability
    of her current relationship. But he sings 'denial' twice and I think that he is also referring to his own denial, that is, what will happen if they actually leave their partners.

    "The infrastructure will collapse
    From voltage spikes"

    He is trying to warn this woman about what will happen if she stays with her partner. The 'infrastruture' he is referring to is a loveless way to desribe her relationship, which will collapse from sudden, unexpected 'spikes' of emotion that have been suppressed and denied from a long time. The nasty way he is talking about it hints at a selfishness in his warning. It's not just that he cares about her getting hurt, he also wants her for himself.

    "Your ears are burning
    Denial, denial"

    Once again, this has a double meaning. He is trying to tell the woman that her 'ears should be burning' with the truth of his words, but I also think he is doubting himself and he feels he should be ashamed of his actions. I think deep down, he even doubts if she feels the same, and that the whole thing might just one-sided dillussion.


    Anyway...I love this song. It has such a sweet desperation to it. I can relate to that feeling of wanting someone so much that you really don't care about the consequences, that you would lie to yourself because of the idea of being with her...
    cypreziodon January 14, 2008   Link
  • +4
    Song Meaningthrow your keys in the bowl
    kiss your husband good night

    that says it all, this is about an estranged married couple who attends swinger parties to try to mix things up a bit, but they are really just living in denial about the inevitable end of their relationship.
    fuzzyslothbearon October 06, 2011   Link
  • +3
    General Commenti cried the first time i heard it. its so honest and eager. like listening to someone confess a secret.



    i think everyone has, at one point, felt this way:
    """"I don't wanna be your friend
    I just wanna be your lover.""""
    clairvoyanceon October 12, 2007   Link
  • +3
    General CommentWhenever I want to understand what this (or any other) song means, I try to imagine what it would mean if it were about another subject... socio-political for example. I always think of something I heard Thom Yorke say during an interview when his album The Eraser came out in 2006. I think he was discussing the lyrics for "And It Rained All Night". He said some of the song was inspired by a night in New York City where it was raining a lot. He said the infrastructure in that city is inadequate to stop massive flooding if that were to happen. I think this song can also be interpreted as being about any social or political infrastructure that will inevitably collapse if anything beyond the ordinary happens. Same thing with marriages where there is no interest on one or both sides, and something unexpected (falling in love with someone else, for example) happens.

    But the music really speaks more about love than anything else.
    eatenbythewormson October 09, 2008   Link
  • +3
    General CommentNow this is most definitely a love song.

    --Thom Yorke before playing house of cards (2008 August 4)

    your ears should be burning. he's talking about his lover.
    rachel__faceon October 20, 2008   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI created an account just to share my thoughts on this beautiful song.

    I think this song is about a man who is asking a married woman to run away with him, or at least cheat on her husband with him. At the very beginning of the song, when he says "I don't wanna be your friend, I just wanna be your lover. No matter how it ends, no matter how it starts" he implies that he doesn't care about the crap that this "affair" will get them into, when it "ends."

    To me, "forget about your house of cards" means that the man wants the woman to forget about her husband, her marriage, which is weak, and perhaps meaningless, like a house of cards. "Throw your keys in the bowl, kiss your husband goodnight" ... The first part, I believe, is asking her to spend the night at his place with him, instead of driving home to her husband; to make her self at home at his place. The second part is saying that she should act like nothing is wrong and this will be kept secret from her husband.

    "The infrastructure will collapse." ( wow this song is awesome )... Again, referring to this house of cards as infrastructure, which WILL collapse; her house of cards (her marriage) WILL fall apart.

    "Denial, denial" ........ she may be trying to resist, or DENY, that her marriage is so shaky. She might be in simple denial

    Although I'm pretty sure this song is about an affair, I think it is beautiful in that he is saving her from a crappy marriage
    nitchenon November 12, 2012   Link

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