"Little by Little" as written by and Thomas Edward/greenwood Yorke....
Turn to nasty now
The dark cell
The pillar of my soul
The last one out of the box
The one who broke this spell

Little by little by hook or by crook
I'm such a tease
And you're such a flirt
Once you've been hurt
You've been around enough

Little by little by hook or by crook
Never get earnest
Never get judged
I'm no idiot
I should look

Your clue on hold, snapped up
Crawling with my love
The last one out of the box
The one that broke the seal

Obligation
Complication
Routines and schedules
Drug and kill you
Kill you

Little by little by hook or by crook
Never get nervous
Never get judged
I'm no idiot
I should look

Little by little by hook or by crook
I'm such a tease
And you're such a flirt


Lyrics submitted by Joshoewaa, edited by graemepryc, MrMagpie, Dork21, Mellow_Harsher, Fleabitten, urwellkeen, BIRDDUDE830

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

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Little by Little song meanings
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41 Comments

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  • +5
    General CommentThere are so many little nuances in this song and all of the songs from King of Limbs, you just have to pay really close attention. This is what I got out of it:

    Basically, I think it's about how we let our "evil" sides slowly get in control of us. Especially today, in our society, most people do whatever to impress their boss, or in big corporate businesses they let their greed take control of them by getting involved in these stupid little games, (that's why the song sounds so dangerous and mischievous) even if playing games hurts them.

    "Little by little by hook or by crook
    I'm such a tease
    And you're such a flirt
    Once you've been hurt
    You've been around enough"

    Then you behave certain ways or ignore your own emotions/thoughts, (it could be done by taking drugs/alcohol or not) and even though you're not an idiot and you know how it's killing yourself and affecting others, you don't look. Your oblivious to your own ignorance.

    The fourth part is like the breaking point because the all the messy sounds start to disappear, he starts singing slower, etc. You're stuck in this vicious cycle, following "Routines and schedules," and it's like you selling yourself ("Obligation") to the devil, letting your darker side take complete control over you, "The last one out of the box, The one that broke the seal" I also noticed here that the sound the folk guitar instrument thing makes in the beginning, is reversed here.

    Lastly, the chorus repeats, and the distracting sounds come in place again:

    Little by little by hook or by crook
    Never get nervous
    Never get judged
    I'm no idiot
    I should look

    The person isn't an idiot so they should come to realization that they shouldn't simply put things past them and get away with things by hook/crook.

    I know there must be many other things this song means, but I haven't looked that in depth into it yet. This is why I love Radiohead, and think they're an immediate classic. Their songs are always associated with important current issues but because the lyrics are abstract, and not too specific, you can connect to them from any time period.

    So far, one of my favourites from the album. I love the dangerous, exotic sound.
    nobrainnopainon February 20, 2011   Link
  • +3
    General CommentThis is what I hear:
    turned so nasty now
    the dark's there
    the pillar of my soul
    the last one out of the box
    the one who broke the spell
    little by little by hook or by crook
    I'm such a tease and you're such a flirt
    once you've been there
    you've been around enough
    little by little by hook or by crook
    never in earnest
    never get judged
    I don't know where it is I should look
    I crawl inside the box
    i crawl in with my love
    the last one out of the box
    the one who broke the seal
    obligation
    complications
    routines and schedules
    drag and kill you
    eatenbythewormson February 22, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentHere's how I hear it:

    Turned too nasty now
    The dark cell
    The pillar of my soul
    The last one out of the box
    The one who broke the spell

    Little by little by hook or by crook
    I am such a tease and you're such a flirt
    Once you've been 'round
    You've been around enough

    Little by little by hook or by crook
    Never in earnest
    Never get judged
    I don't know where it is I should look

    Your glue won't hold
    The threat above
    Recoiling with my love
    The last one out of the box
    The one who broke the seal

    Obligation
    Complication
    Routines and schedule
    Drug and kill you
    Kill you

    Little by little by hook or by crook
    Never in earnest
    Never get judged
    I don't know where it is I should look

    Little by little by hook or by crook
    I am such a tease and you're such a flirt
    ForzaAzzurrion March 01, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentInstead of "Drug, and kill you" I think it might be "A job that's killing you, killing you". Makes sense with the previous lines of obligations, complications, and routines and schedules.
    ForzaAzzurrion March 07, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe song is great.
    I think he's an evil of the world ( greed maybe ) and he's talking to another of the evils ( lust maybe ). "Little by little by hook or by crook" - they're taking over, either by addiction ( hook ) or by the by being harnessed and sold illegally ( by crooks ). The box is pandora's box.
    kojakswayson February 18, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI really don't get the "I should look" part of the chorus. Does anyone mind explaining?
    Valaddictionon February 19, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthis song is immense. just amazing.

    I love the lyrics too! dangerously flattering.
    RMXjointon February 20, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is so wonderful. It reminds me a bit (thematically) of No Surprises.
    Symphony Marieon February 20, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti'm thinking it could be about using alcohol to give you confidence. 'Turn to nasty now...' and the whole first verse is after a few too many and all your held up emotions start coming out , 'I'm such a tease and your such a flirt', 'never get nervous, never get judged' sound like the lowering of inhibitions to me. 'Last one out the box, the one that broke the seal' ... well breaking your seal is that point after a few beers were every ten minutes you need another piss, which you definitely would have broken if your onto the kast beer in your box. So maybe 'little by little', by each beer your preparing and making yourself more confident to get the girl by either 'hook or crook', which is a common saying for getting something by any means possible.
    dont know if i want it to be about that though...
    alizarianon February 20, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti hear; never in earnest, never get judged
    also; the clue on hold, the thread a ball, recoiling with my love
    or maybe; ..the threat above..
    screenvalueon February 21, 2011   Link

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