"The Tourist" as written by and Thomas Edward/greenwood Yorke....
It barks at no one else
But me
Like it's seen
A ghost
I guess it's seen the sparks
A-flowin'
No one else
Would know

Hey man, slow down
Slow down
Idiot, slow down
Slow down

Sometimes I get overcharged
That's when you
See sparks
They ask me where the hell
I'm going?
At a thousand feet per second

Hey man, slow down
Slow down
Idiot, slow down
Slow down

Hey man, slow down
Slow down
Idiot, slow down
Slow down


Lyrics submitted by piesupreme

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

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

The Tourist song meanings
Add your thoughts

70 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +14
    General CommentThis is actually the first song on the album! bear with me here...

    Johnny was obsessed with the idead of continuity when they were recording ok computer, so this album is a loop. at the end of tourist we hear the the triangle(or whatever it is) and we presume his car has crashed, but the "airbag" saves his life and he continues his life through the album until he gets to tourist again!

    Did that make sense??
    Lumpy_custardon April 13, 2004   Link
  • +9
    General CommentIn Fahrenheit 451, I'm pretty sure Montag says something like "it barks at no one else but me," maybe that exactly.

    He's talking about the big scary mechanical hound: the one that's a metaphor for technology. It has almost immesurable potential for bettering the world, but it seems like it is mostly used for killing people. Montag is one of the few enlightened people in his world who understands this about technology, and whenever he's around it, it barks at him.

    These themes are present throughout OK Computer. Draw your own conclusions...
    hobarton June 20, 2004   Link
  • +7
    General Comment
    It's hot as a mug in England right now. Sometimes, I take iced lollies with me to the loo. It helps me think up new lyrics. Then Jonny would be banging on the door, yelling for me to get out. I'd tell the gorm to belt up, but it's like he's bladdered. It's always "Thom sing this", "Thom play this" or "Thom always writes the songs". I'm telling you, it's not like I want to do all the work.
    thom yorkeon May 08, 2002   Link
  • +5
    General CommentI interpret this song as needing to enjoy life. When a tourist visits a place he usually feel like he has to do a lot to take in the sights. He is moving at a fast-pace. He is also uptight cause he doesnt know the place he's at, so the sparks are him being irritated a lot.
    This also applies to people always on the go as well.

    I often think this song is 2nd to last and Airbag is really the last song on OK Computer (listen to the Airbag lyric. So I listen through the cd all the way and then listen to Airbag last. To me, it is like a rebirth, an awareness of life and doing things right this time cause you had a realization, however that came to be.
    Daisy13on July 05, 2002   Link
  • +5
    General Comment"The Tourist" was written by Jonny, who, explains Thom, was "in a beautiful square in France on a sunny day, and watching all theses American tourists being wheeled around, frantically trying to see everything in 10 minutes." Jonny was shocked at how these people could be in a place so beautiful and so special and not realize it because they weren't taking the time to just stop and look around.

    greenplastic.com
    a town like parison February 18, 2005   Link
  • +5
    General CommentHey, man, slow down...

    A few years back when I was living in a miserable ghetto apartment, unemployed, credit card debt piling up, uncertain about the present and the future, I'd go on road trips out of the city almost every weekend to camp, hike, ski, anything to get away from the concrete and the corner drug deals and the liquor stores and the drive-bys. I was listening to Radiohead heavily, as I'm still inclined to do when clinically depressed, and as the weekend came to a close, and we had been on the road for a few hours, and we entered the final maze of freeways, I'd always cue up OKC to The Tourist. Hey, man, slow down... think of the beautiful sights you saw this weekend. Remember the colors on the painted sand dunes... remember how that blast of heat felt coming from the black lava beds... the views of the smoky blue foothills from the summit... remember how the tent stakes crunched in the cinders, the quiet of the campsite... the smell of the pines... slow down...

    Then we'd get home and hurriedly unpack the car in fear of getting jumped.

    I think of this song a lot. When I'm biking and I nearly pass up a scenic spot in favor of making time - Hey, man, slow down. When I'm stressing at work, deluded into thinking that any of that sh*t actually matters - Hey, man, slow down. When I'm caught up in my troubles and forget how good it can be to stop on the way home and watch the sunset over the ocean - Hey, man, slow down.

    Thanks for this one, Radiohead. It's one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard.
    half_duprasson May 26, 2008   Link
  • +4
    General CommentI found Tourist one of OK Computer's more difficult tracks to understand, but in the end I disagree with most of you (as much as you can disagree about interpretations).

    I reckon it's kind of a follow-up to No Surprises where he'd decided to go for a fake life, and now here the cracks (or "sparks", as he calls them) are beginning to show. He panics ("overcharged") and begins to run madly away from where he was an in an unknown direction. I like the idea that he ends up brushing death, and we return to the beginning with "airbag".
    The danger of his wild and unplanned change of direction is expressed by the chorus, where he's told to slow down - to basically lie down before he hurts himself.
    freeyourmindon August 14, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI don't know where to begin. This song has inspired a big transition in my life, and I don't even know what it is. Beyond comprehension. Radiohead.
    landingstillon May 12, 2002   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationThe pre-OK Computer period is known for excessive touring and the band's tiredness of it. Just imagine flying around to all the biggest cities of the world, mostly seeing airports and venues. The aircraft is what transports him 1000 feet/second. The part about the sparks is Thom's way of saying that there is too much energy, both for him personally and for the world. Too much energy used in a short amount of time. It would be reasonable to relax and save some of it for later. The title means he never feels at home and that the thing barking at him evokes a association to him being a ghost - he is lost from the world and unsure that he will ever get back from the state of tourist to a settled person (and if he never goes back to settled person, then he is like a ghost to those settled. Dogs always belong somewhere and probably the most settled animal in the world)

    The sparks a-flowing goes with the spiritual feel of the album (karma, reincarnation etc) and suggests that the narrator has an aura that the animal can see.

    I think Thom took his personal themes at that moment and converted it into something mystical, mythical and general.
    mrniceon July 17, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentCould 1000 feet per second refer to the speed of sound?

    1000ft/s = 300m/s (more or less). Speed of sound = 330m/s.

    With regards to previous comments...

    Passenger aircraft don't usually fly at 1000ft/s. This would be near Mach 1. A typical passenger jet has a maximum cruise speed of around 900km/h = about 820ft/s.

    Cars definitely do not drive at 1000ft/s. That's over 650mph. If you have a car that goes this fast, you should give Richard Noble a ring.
    robinw77on September 10, 2012   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain