"Codex" as written by and Thomas Edward/greenwood Yorke....
Slight of hand
Jump off the end
Into a clear lake
No one around
Just dragonflies
Fantasize
No one gets hurt

You've done nothing wrong
Slide your hand
Jump off the end
The water's clear
And innocent
The water's clear
And innocent


Lyrics submitted by maggotbrain, edited by MrMagpie, Jibab53, urwellkeen, meatballiz, eXdeaTh, TomChaton, Acht, BIRDDUDE830

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

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Codex song meanings
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  • +15
    General CommentThe more and more I listen to this album, the more parallels I find with the Buddhist spiritual cycle of life, death, and rebirth. I believe this song is about the cleansing rebirth in spiritual death, in that exploring the unfamiliar within ourselves and abandoning our previous shells.

    If anyone has ever read Siddhartha, after a traumatic event that seems to have scarred the titular character, water usually symbolizes some form of cleansing and rebirth, paralleling baptism - hence "the water is clear and innocent". In that, by "jumping off the end into a clear lake", we shed our previous skin and the burdens of our soul brought about by our mistakes ("you've done nothing wrong"). "No one around" reminds us that this entire process is a personal, spiritual experience, and is wholesome within ourselves.

    Immediately after, you have "Give Up The Ghost", which is a song about how despite cleansing, it is our previous mistakes that define who we are as people, and how reflecting and dwelling on it is the only way to truly "move on" (which parallels the entire concept of the album in that each song has a short repetitive rhythmic/harmonic idea that evolves over time, staying the same, but different in the end now that it is given new perspective in the end). Then in "Seperator", you have the acknowledgment of this cycle of spiritual life, turmoil, death, and rebirth; even though looking back on the journey makes it feel "like a long and weary dream", the cycle is never-ending, and that "if you think this is over, then you're wrong".

    Really a fantastic album. Perhaps I'm making these connections because it's associated with my personal perspective on life, but with the title of "The Lotus Flower" being one of the most significant symbols of Buddhism, along with a tracks hinting at cyclical nature of reincarnation: "Bloom" (birth), "Feral" (turmoil), "Give Up The Ghost" (death/rebirth), "Separator" (reflection); I honestly feel like the theme and the message of all of Radiohead's albums has never been so focused.
    matchboxmatton February 19, 2011   Link
  • +11
    General Commenti haven't felt this pain since pyramid song.
    leanneweeon February 19, 2011   Link
  • +10
    General CommentThis song made me cry when I first heard it. I love it. To me...best song off the The King of Limbs album. I love how the "trills" of the keyboard make it sound like fingertips skimming water. And the piano just make it sound so ethereal and like it's late...under the night sky. I haven't fully digested it's lyrics fully to understand the meaning. I'm only going by initial emotion of the melody mostly. Just a lonely introspective kind of song. But my first thoughts of the lyrics are it sounds like a person that feels like they want to end their life because of tremendous guilt because they've hurt people in the past. "Slight of hand" seems like he's been a liar to me. "No one gets hurt" to me implies he has hurt people and this act won't hurt anyone at all. He just wants to slip away quietly...no one has to be hurt any more."Just dragonflies flying to the side" I mean...it's like he's concerned about the bugs getting in the way of his "jump"? I am probably way off. "The water's clear...and innocent" seems like a metaphor for him...he wants to HAVE clarity and innocence. And emersing oneself in water has always been symbolic of washing away ones sins. Just seems that the scene is all so inviting because of it's sereneness ...almost seductive & floating/sinking.
    I love how one tends to love Radiohead songs even more when you sit and let the lyrics soak in.
    UNsweetTon February 18, 2011   Link
  • +8
    General CommentI'd like to give a shout out to matchboxmatt! The title of the song 'Lotus Flower' certainly draws attention to elements of Buddhist philosophy that seem to pervade K of L. Keep in mind, though, by the same token, Radiohead's other great song about water - Pyramid Song - shares the same themes identified by matchboxmatt as being expressed throughout King of Limbs, namely, the spiritual cycle of life, death, and rebirth, albeit filtered through Greek and Egyptian Mythology. Hence, my confidence in equating Thom's use of water with the River Styx, or perhaps even with the river Lethe ('Amnesiac').

    Both Codex and Pyramid Song (and to some degree 'I Might Be Wrong') feature a protagonist who casts aside fear and doubt to jump into the water. But whereas Pyramid Song borrows heavily from Ancient Mythology, Codex, especially in the context of the album as a whole, seems imbued with Buddhist leanings. These songs are essentially the same, but their theme, though identical, is tackled from an entirely different philosophical lense.

    I think it is fair to say we are both on equal footing with our understanding and appreciation of the song. It is impressive how Thom's understanding of the spiritual cycle of life, death, and rebirth continues to evolve.
    hoopdnadiggleron February 20, 2011   Link
  • +7
    General Comment"The calm,

    Cool face of the river

    Asked me for a kiss"

    "Suicide's Note" by Langston Hughes (1902-1967)

    kyle16813on February 18, 2011   Link
  • +7
    My InterpretationThis song is definitely a beautiful piece of art, and I think it's easy to get lead astray with some of the lyrics. If I use somebody's words, I apologize, but I didn't go through and read all of the posts so I am going from my perception of what I believe the song means.

    Thom Yorke is a poet at heart, and he is able to totally immerse himself in the identity of the individual he is writing about. Thom has historically been at odds with the people of authority in England, especially Tony Blair. He actually wrote "You and Whose Army" for Tony and his "Cronies", as they were affectionately named.

    To me this song is chock full of symbolism. I believe Thom is in the man's mind, speaking from his thoughts and his conscience. He is trying to reassure himself that he is not all bad, that nobody will find out, that he hasn't done anything wrong and that nobody will get hurt further if he takes himself out. Politicians/people of authority often make decisions that make sense to them at the time but are morally reprehensible to the rest of the world when they are exposed.

    Sleight of hand (He did something wrong and covered it up.)

    Jump off the end (He is contemplating suicide to make it go away.)

    Into a clear lake (Symbolizes the way he will end his life, but also symbolizes a cleansing of his spirit in death.)

    No one around (He is alone in the world with his secret, and he see himself alone in death.)

    Just dragonflies
    Flying to the side (This shows the level of the man's mental illness, and how long he's been fighting this problem in his mind. He is imagining his own death and his arms flying to the side while he is traveling to the water....like a Dragonfly.)

    No one gets hurt (He is rationalizing his decision. In his mind nobody else will get hurt, including him, because he will be gone and nobody will find out about his dirty little secret.)

    You've done nothing wrong (He is trying to console himself and give himself the resolve to complete the task at hand. Most people think that they will go to hell if they are bad or if they kill themselves. He is offering himself encouragement to get himself passed that point.)

    Slide your hand (His conscience is pushing him forward in his fantasy of death, and is trying give him the courage to follow through.)

    Jump off the end (He's gone from thinking about it to reassuring himself of his decision.)

    The water's clear
    And innocent x 2 (The water is what he wants to be again, clean and innocent. Perhaps he even thinks the suicide will be construed as an accidental drowning and he will pull of the biggest lie of all and keep his honor completely intact.)

    I think the name "Codex" is a desire for wishful thinking from Thom. He wishes all of us would be "open books", and we would take an introspective look at ourselves and try our best at honesty. I think this song was written from a place of hope for people who make mistakes on high and have to deal with them. Just my thoughts. Thanks for reading.
    bcocolaon May 27, 2011   Link
  • +6
    General Commentlet me preface this by saying that i love the entire new album. BUT, this song stopped me in my tracks...it is so effing beautiful and haunting.

    here's my stab at the meaning, for what it's worth. i think it is the speaker's attempt to rewrite history. this rewritten history is encased in a codex (thus the title). in this history, what was once a "slight of hand", meaning a trick done by or onto him, is then changed to "slide of hand", which to me gives the connotation of affection or tender touch. before he changes it, he says (and seemingly needs to believe) that "no one gets hurt". it's likely that in the true story of things, this is NOT the case. i think the water references could be the cleansing force... but in my humble opinion, i think maybe it's tears.

    i am probably way off, but that's my initial reaction to it.
    chicananerdon February 18, 2011   Link
  • +6
    General CommentI've been a RH fan since they released Pablo and have grown up with them. TKOL is to me, their most complete album, sonically, lyrically and maturity.

    Codex sounds like a requiem of sorts, playing out on so many levels - politically, economically, socially, religiously, and intimately private. It lays bare the hurt and disappointment of having tried for so long to reconcile the actions and interpersonal dynamics between people. There is so much hurt and betrayal laced in the lyrics. The piano rises with the sense of hope that keeps the narrator going, only to fall again when the person comes to the conclusion that what's done is done and cannot be erased from their memory.

    The imagery of jumping off the edge, clear water, dragonflies yielding as the person falls and the baptism that occurs when they splash down suggests to me that they are looking for rebirth, free from the pain.

    I don't see this as a song about death, as much as one about coming to terms with some deeply disturbing and conflicting emotions about that persons place in the world. They are longing for peace of mind, which is more fully articulated in Give Up the Ghost (next track).

    It's a beautiful song and a perfect representation of what Radiohead can provoke in the mind of its audience. Between Codex and Give Up the Ghost, I have spent literally hours sitting quietly reflecting on their meanings.
    Minotaur37on August 07, 2012   Link
  • +5
    My InterpretationI feel like "suicide" is too simple, in the sense of a physical suicide. Perhaps it's more of a figurative suicide. You feel as if you have done nothing wrong, but you're still alone and even dragonflies fly away. You just want to get back to where things were "clear and innocent." You can't just go back though; there has to be some sort of death involved, you have to be willing to give it all up in order to get it all back...
    fakeplasticpaulon February 19, 2011   Link
  • +4
    General CommentIt is using suicide as a metaphor for Radiohead breaking up
    The Codex documents and preserves the art that they have left behind

    Imagine the man is holding himself up on the ledge of a mountain, but his grip is getting weaker/ his hands are shriveling (slight of hand)

    He cant keep it up anymore so he jumps off

    The water is a metaphor for time
    It will inevitably wash away the man no matter how much effort he puts into trying to keep his grasp on life

    The man has done nothing wrong, he has already finished and recorded his lifes work
    All that is left for him to do is slide off his hands and jump into the lake
    Anteon February 19, 2011   Link

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