"Videotape" as written by and Thomas Edward/greenwood Yorke....
When I'm at the pearly gates
This will be on my videotape, my videotape
Mephistopheles is just beneath
And he's reaching up to grab me

This is one for the good days
And I have it all here
In red, blue, green
Red, blue, green

You are my center
When I spin away
Out of control on videotape
On videotape
On videotape
On videotape
On videotape
On videotape

This is my way of saying goodbye
Because I can't do it face to face
I'm talking to you after it's too late
No matter what happens now
You shouldn't be afraid
Because I know today has been the most perfect day I've ever seen


Lyrics submitted by black_cow_of_death, edited by Paymaan

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

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Videotape song meanings
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  • +16
    General Commenthow can radiohead keep doing it?
    as a musician they constantly inspire me yet at the same time make me feel like giving up because i will never be able to write anything as brilliant as this. it's so simple yet so wonderful...
    please keep writing music like this, i dont know what i would do without it
    no_one69on June 12, 2006   Link
  • +9
    General CommentI don't think it's a suicide note. I think it's written from the perspective of someone who is away from the person he loves and the thought that he might die before he gets the chance to tell her pops into his head and so he decides to write this. The song itself could be the 'videotape moment' he is referring to. It is obviously written to someone he loves very much but that he is not able to express these feelings to. This is the person who is at the centre of his life and his thoughts at this moment. Such a beautiful and powerful song. I loved the Amsterdam 2 perfomance. It made me cry.
    eatenbythewormson September 22, 2006   Link
  • +7
    General CommentI think the song is about holding on to a memory that's slipping away with time. The song itself is kind of documenting the beauty of the moment. He's capturing whatever he's feeling in the song, much like a videotape would capture a brief section of time. He knew it wouldn't last forever.. whatever that moment was, you can absolutely tell that it was deeply meaningful to him.

    For me though... when I turned 19, my then girlfriend and I used to just lie in bed all day. There were moments were we would just be. I get all these fucked up visualizations of just getting like... transported into the past. Unfortunately that point in time has moved on, and listening to this song transports me to back then. I have a feeling that songs as good as this can only be made with those type of experiences in mind. I don't think I've ever heard a more beautiful song in that way in my entire life.
    Ximalimon March 01, 2009   Link
  • +6
    General Comment"When Mephistophilis is just beneath/And he's reaching up to grab me."

    Mephistopheles is a name given to one of the chief demons of Christian mythology that figure in European literary traditions.

    The song is about being judged at the gates of heaven, and the "videotape" is a record of lead singer Thom Yorke's life.
    landonbainon June 26, 2006   Link
  • +5
    General CommentIt sounds like a suicide note.
    pumkinhedon August 09, 2006   Link
  • +5
    General CommentAs much as it worries me, I think this song is a rather straightforward goodbye.

    The most important bit of the lyrics, I think, is the "when" at the beginning of the first two stanzas. He's not dead, and he's not being judged. But when it's all over, "this" will be on his videotape. "This", I think is "the most perfect day I've ever seen".

    Now here's where my notion of it may lead me astray. It seems like "No matter what happens now," and "This is my way of saying goodbye because I can't do it face to face." mean that the person is leaving something(someone) they know and love. Not going into danger, just going away.

    Other people in other places have speculated that this song is Radiohead's farewell to their fans.
    fortheloveon October 09, 2007   Link
  • +4
    General CommentThis story ties into Goethe's Faust nicely IMO. Faust is searching for happiness his whole life, and resorts to selling his sole to the devil (Mephistopheles) if the devil can lead him to happiness. Happiness only truly comes, however, when he dies and realizes just how beautiful life actually was. His sole is pardoned and sent to heaven due to the fact he tried so hard to find the happiness he desired. The story ends there, but as he dies and slips into the unknown (I picture this is how Thom see's it) you can imagine that he, for the first time, was not worried at all about what the future had in store because he had no control over his future. He had only his last moments in his present state of human existence in which his life flashed before his eyes and he realized just how beautiful his life and everything in it was. Today has been the most perfect day I've ever seen.
    OptimisticKidAon June 26, 2012   Link
  • +4
    Song MeaningThe song as some people believe is inspired by a Japanese movie called "After Life (Wandafuru Raifu)" which plot is about how people after they die they have seven days to choose one single memory from their lifes and then they will "live" in that memory repeating it forever.

    Now, I don't know exactly from what perspective or perspectives Tom is talking from the lyrics. For me he is comunicating or talking to the memory of a very loved one from the after life he is in now.

    Mephistopheles can be an interpretation of the Grim as he describes how he is reaching to "grab" him.

    Then he talks how those good old days meant so much for him and how now he has them in "red blue green" as in a motion film. Also how much love he had for that person as he/she was his center.

    He then tries or succeed in saying goodbye in some way from his "heaven" but not face to face 'cause he can't (He's dead!). Also, before he goes forever into the neverending memory.

    Finally, he's reensuring the person he's talking with that no matter what happens now he/she shouldn't be afraid of (at least I imagine that) how he/she will cope life now without him and/or if he (the narrator) is suffering, sad, angry, or regretful because now he is happy knowing that he will live forever happy in the most perfect day of his life, meaning the eternal memory.

    The "Videotape" is a metaphor of the neverending memory he is going to live in now, 'cause just as a videotape does, he will experience the memory and then the videotape will rewind and start again and again.

    Maybe Tom didn't mean to write the song about "After Life (Wandafuru Raifu)". It is possible it's just a coincidence but, once you know the argument of the movie it's very easy to connect the dots and make an interpretation of the lyrics. Of course even if the song is inspired or not in the movie, it can be interpretated in a different way by each one who listen and analyze the lyrics.
    NarMithrandiron January 14, 2015   Link
  • +3
    General CommentSuch a fucking beautiful song.
    atomsplitteron July 02, 2006   Link
  • +3
    General CommentWe all agree the song concerns a man reviewing his love in retrospect... I highly doubt it's due to suicide - that's more the listener's imposition... Rather, I think this song is concerned with the lover's hope that his love and positive efforts are an ultimate force for good and that the Universe may judge him fairly for it.

    It's a prayer or meditation that his love will in some way be eternally recorded by and echoed throughout a sympathetic Universe. It is a karmic prayer for forgiveness and understanding.

    Who is watching this videotape anyway, in an age of DVD's no less? In essence, we are all memories that fade as generations pass. Yet we all relate to the hope that the positive things we contribute, experience and offer unto Life will somehow reverberate and carry on beyond us.

    It's purposefully phrased to make us reflect on our own morbidity and, more importantly, the positive emanations we should strive and hope to leave behind. Yet the song also understands that no matter how great one's hope the destiny of the Universe is determined by a force greater than individual hope... Indeed, it is a construct of collective aspirations and ambitions of which our contribution is only a part.

    Love, give and pray. Let's learn.
    steinbeckthepearlon July 05, 2007   Link

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