"Let Down" as written by Thomas Yorke, Edward John O'brien, Colin Charles Greenwood, Jonathan Richard Guy Greenwood and Philip Selway....
Transport, motorways and tramlines
Starting and then stopping
Taking off and landing
The emptiest of feelings
Disappointed people, clinging on to bottles
When it comes it's so, so, disappointing

Let down and hanging around
Crushed like a bug in the ground
Let down and hanging around

Shell smashed, juices flowing
Wings twitch, legs are going
Don't get sentimental, it always ends up drivel
One day, I am gonna grow wings
A chemical reaction
Hysterical and useless
Hysterical and

Let down and hanging around
Crushed like a bug in the ground
Let down and hanging around

Let down
Let down
Let down

You know, you know where you are with
You know where you are with
Floor collapsing, falling
Bouncing back and one day, I am gonna grow wings
A chemical reaction (you know where you are)
Hysterical and useless (you know where you are)
Hysterical and (you know where you are)

Let down and hanging around
Crushed like a bug in the ground
Let down and hanging around


Lyrics submitted by piesupreme

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

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Let Down song meanings
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  • +26
    General CommentProbably the most uplifting song I've ever had the pleasure of listening to. Existential Thom is vocalizing an emotional metamorphasis manifested with the overwhelming feeling of freedom one experiences when they find themselves with nothing left to lose. 'Let Down' picks up where Kafka's 'Metamorphosis' protagonist [en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…], a grotesque man-turned-insect, is giving up hope in his life's worth and contemplating whether society would be better off if he were dead. The insect creature, in great despair, eventually decides to die alone in his room. 'Let Down' is so inspiring because Yorke doesn't give up hope; he has faith he will endure the insect stage and the crushing societal torment it brings; one day he is going to develop into a butterfly and be free. Existence precedes essence. Thom isn't looking for anyone's pity as it only ends up drivel. It's useless anyways because he has to do it for himself -- he must break through the artificial identity society has defined for him which he knows will inevitably crumble. He must develop his authentic identity from within so that he may have something of substance to bounce back up off of after his fake world breaks down. Only when his existence is authentic to himself can he have freedom. These are some of the fundamental concepts of existential philosophy.

    After the bridge, the final verses of the song make my eyes water every time I hear it. The most beautiful and theraputic emotional catharsis I've ever witnessed:

    "You'll know,
    You'll know where you are when
    You'll know where you are when
    Floor collapses floating,
    Bouncing back and one day
    I am gonna grow wings
    A chemical reaction (you'll know where you are)
    Hysterical and useless (you'll know where you are)
    Hysterical and (you'll know where you are)"
    imbalanceon July 16, 2011   Link
  • +11
    General CommentHoly crap. Such a good song. "Don't get sentimental, it always ends up drivel" really got to me. Actually, every line from this song is awesome. But I have a completely different perception of this song. I think it might be about how futile life, and especially relationships are. They may be nice while they last, but they're fleeting, and leave you alone and with nowhere else to go. During the entire ride, you are looking forward to the end destination, but when you arrive, you are disappointed and alone. To me, the growing wings part might express his desire to transcend all of that.
    la_femme_morte89on October 26, 2004   Link
  • +8
    General CommentThe same as all the others OK Computer songs, this one is related with the criticism of consumerist and materialistic society. A society that doesn't care about your feelings when you're in a traffic jam. The only important thing is to be productive (listen to Fitter Happier). Where could there be a place for beauty in this materialistic society?

    "One day, I am gonna grow wings,
    A chemical reaction,
    Hysterical and useless"

    For materialistic society:
    Beauty = Useless
    Feelings = Chemical reactions
    Emotions = Being hysterical

    Here Thom describes something beautifull, he's gonna grow wings. It represents that something "bigger" is going to happen (or at least that's what he hopes). But this beauty is described from the point of view of society.
    It's as simple (and as magnificent) as that.

    By the way, this is the best song ever companion "Fake Plastic Trees".
    Fabroon February 16, 2013   Link
  • +6
    General CommentI remember when I first really figured out this song, something clicked for me about my whole understanding of music in general. There's a lot of symbolism in the music alone...almost like classical program music.

    I bought the book, "Back to Save the Universe" which basically disects every Radiohead album up to Hail to the Theif. I legit recommend it. But hey...I aint advertising here.

    So yeah...this interpretaion is kind of based off that book. Supposedly Thom Yorke once said in an interview: "Sentimentality is being emotional for the sake of it. We're bombarded with sentimentality, people emoting. That's the let down. You end up feeling every emotion is fake, or rather every emotion is on the same plane, whether it's a car advert or a pop song."

    This feeling of monotony is clearly reflected in the Ed's riff...the constant repeating of the same notes. In fact, that whole entire phrase doesn't really change throughout the entire song. The chorus and verses are practically the same. Thom's vocals are also quite monotonous too.

    Thom has said, too that the whole listing of different modes of transportation is a process of "purging" excess emotion. It's almost as if througout the entire song, he's revving up for the finale.

    And then there's the fantastical climax at the end, with the round of Thom's voices taking flight, "One day I am going to grow wings, a chemical reaction." This, to me, symbolizes how Thom has broken free of that "emotional plane" (both lyrically and musically) OoOo…it really hits you in the gut, right? It’s all quite uplifting.

    Finally, at the end of the song, you hear a sort of electronic midi sound that trys to mimic the interplay of Johnny and Ed (which is nearly impossible, because like someone mentioned before, they play in different time signatures). This is interesting…perhaps it’s a sort of musical/poetic metaphor of man’s power over machine? I dunno…I’d love to hear other people’s opinions about this one.
    Reebion December 23, 2009   Link
  • +5
    General CommentOne of their best songs from the best album ever in recent years IMO. The vocals are great as usual, they draw you in. Instrumentals are talent filled. It has the whole package. The lyrics themselves are probably the best piece of writing Yorke has done. The metaphor of a crushed bug to the feeling of complete helplessness was very well described and though out, and the lyrics flowed from one line to the next beautifully.

    The "hanging on to bottles" line was origonated from an idea that Yorke thought was hilarious. He pictured drunks sitting at a bar and the floor giving way and the only thing holding them (the drunks) up was the bottles in their mouth, which were tied to the ceiling. A bit of an odd thought, but it works well in this song.
    DammitSteveon July 10, 2002   Link
  • +5
    General Commentthis morning on my drive to work, i realized this is my favorite song ever. i even created this account just so i can say as much. thom yorke's lyrics perfectly illustrate his feeling of social withdrawl and discontent with the world, while conveying a sense of hope at the same time. the music itself haunts me, in the best way possible. this song is utterly flawless. brilliant song by a brilliant band. thank you, radiohead. thank you, thank you, thank you.
    jtmoneyyyyon September 22, 2009   Link
  • +4
    General Commentthom yorke said he was getting pissed at a pub and envisioned the place turned over and all the patrons were "clinging to their bottles", hanging on for dear life. thom also said bugs make a peculiar sound when they're crushed, "especially wasps". to me this song is about disappointed one too many times. one of Radiohead's finest accomplishments all the way around!
    roger wilcoon May 13, 2002   Link
  • +3
    General Commentit's interesting to me that this song has such tragic lyrics and yet, at the "one day i am going to grow wings" part sounds so hopeful and beautiful. it's a stunning song. did you know that the two guitar parts in the verses are completely different time signatures? it's so tricky to play. i actually heard that radiohead couldn't play it live for a while.
    jaz40on May 13, 2004   Link
  • +3
    General CommentIt's about feeling so numb and alienated from our structured life. Transportation, offices, jobs, crowded streets...it's a part of our daily routine that we can't get rid of.He's walking in these places and doing these things and can't feel anything or connect with anyone.He's like a small bug in a ants colony that's being crushed from dispair and dissappointments. Ok Computer is not just the album of my generation, but a document of modern life. Still the greatest album of all time.
    Joekubrickon September 24, 2004   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI agree with much that has been sad about this heart-wrenchingly beautiful song, but I just wanted to offer a possible alternative interpretation to the second verse. It is widely thought that the analogy of a bug been smashed signifies the feeling of crushing feeling of being "let down," which I agree with, but I also think that this anology could apply to the act of resorting to alcohol as an escape from the bordeom and the monotany of modern life (which while temporarily satisfying is ultimately unfulfilling). Ok, when you are drunk your "shell" or your protective gaurd is smashed by the alcohol...you open up and you are not as tight. The "juices are flowing" as the alcohol absorbs itself into your bloodstream and your wings twitch (you feel lighter, better) and your legs are going (maybe your dancing...) Oftentimes when people are drunk, they get sentimental and say stupid shit like "I love you man!" or they start getting beer tears about an exgirlfriend or something (this all just drunken babble, i.e. "drivel"). The alcohol gives you hope for a brighter future ("one day I'm going to grow wings), but at its most basic level this is just a "chemical reaction" in your body. Hysterical and useless...
    mayday882on February 06, 2006   Link

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