Stay in the shadows
Cheer at the gallows
This is a round up

This is a low flying panic attack
Sing a song on the jukebox that goes

Burn the witch
Burn the witch
We know where you live

Red crosses on wooden doors
And if you float you burn
Loose talk around tables
Abandon all reason
Avoid all eye contact
Do not react
Shoot the messengers

This is a low flying panic attack
Sing the song of sixpence that goes

Burn the witch
Burn the witch
We know where you live
We know where you live

Lyrics submitted by black_cow_of_death, edited by mike, BIRDDUDE830, JinnosukeKuma

"Burn The Witch" as written by Jonny Greenwood Colin Greenwood

Lyrics © WARNER CHAPPELL MUSIC INC, Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

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Burn the Witch song meanings
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  • +11
    General CommentIntriguing song indeed...the imagery of the witch hunt, "avoid all eye contact, do not react, this is a round-up," where all citizens are suspisious of one another and low key panic must be maintained in order to seem unassuming. Each person abandons reason and cheers at the gallows because they must conform and participate while secretly relieved to be unaccused. Reminds me of "The Lottery," and (in general) how society must maintain the "status quo." But the red cross on the doors, hmmm...Could refer to the (first) passover, but also the Holocaust...any historical and current event where the community as a whole could change what it is they accept, but do not, and cheer for themselves as they are not the one being burned. Or so that's my take.
    madskinnyladon September 17, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis song seems to discuss fear of the other in a really interesting way. Just like the music video confirms, the entire analogy of the witch hunt dominates the material, while an ongoing subtext pushes a related narrative.

    Overall, I'm most interested in the production. The horror film strings keeping time, the reverb drenched chorus, the whole thing is beautiful. I think the song's release timing is also interesting. 2016 continues the trend of positioning further into one of the most conservative era of humankind—this song seems to examine the shallow missteps of exclusionary society laying waste to alien (other) "withes".

    Propaganda is easier to disseminate than ever before and elite, exclusionary lifestyle is trendy. Though groups have scapegoated each other for generations and will continue to do so—in 2016 we financially, verbally and fictionally "burn the witches". Look at the Syrian refugee situation for instance:

    In early 2016, three million children (millions more adults) are displaced (their homes destroyed) or are refugees (they are fleeing their home country) by/to the Syrian civil war. However, many countries claim it would be financially insane to help these people and it's seen as rational to accept that mindset. The most extreme of these unhelpful people see it as dangerous. Many do not fully understand what they are condemning, they simply follow the popular opinion they relate to most.

    Radiohead have written about this society before, from different perspectives. This song isn't overstated or musically their most complicated but it leaves a lot to be extrapolated and its meaning, specifically it's inspiration likely comes from several places.
    ThreeCoffeePlson May 17, 2016   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI can finally post the official lyrics to this song! LP9 cometh!
    BIRDDUDE830on May 04, 2016   Link
  • +1
    twattson May 11, 2017   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI can´t wait for the new album
    Burn the Witch
    Missacion July 09, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti heard it would Wallamanage. It seems very hail to the thief these lyrics, like "we suck young blood" and "the gloaming"
    clovissexplosionon July 28, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentPaints a very vivid picture of paranoia and fear growing in a small village, culminating in executions.
    Crane42on May 01, 2013   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI saw a lot of social, historical thoughts about this one.
    I must say: I disagree completly. Of course ther's not a correct answer, but allow yourselves to undress these left social points and try to see as I do taking "Burn the Witch" with the whole entire album to interpretate.

    It seems to me that this is a really introspective song, much more about love, anxiety, inner demons (the witch that we all know where it lives) and the panic that comes within...also about defense techniques to avoid falling in the traps that the shadows bring. I mean, it's not that Radiohead hates and wants to abandon this shadow, of course.

    Anyway, sorry for the poor english here, but to see only social points of views on a band and a music that touches so deep in our souls really made me wanna come here and comment.
    anthonio10on June 27, 2016   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's about the media and politics of the US and the UK in 2016, playing on natural fears and encouraging people to mistrust and accuse each other. Witch hunts have always been popular, but social norms were in place not to rush to conclusions or take unfair action... but this year that all seems to be eroded. All opinion is expressed in the form of violent disagreement with some other opinion, or more likely a person or group representing it. Beneath the song's lyrics is the plea that this is dangerous, counterproductive, and misguided.

    The UK referendum on leaving the European Union, and the 2016 US presidential election, were won through paranoia, propaganda, and intimidation designed to get people fearing and vilifying each other. FEAR WON. Demonizing others feels good in the short term but destroys us in the end.

    Love the tension that the fevered strings section adds. It was cool to see them play the cellos live too, they opened the concert with this.
    interpretatoron December 04, 2016   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningI doubt it is about politics in 2016, considering the song was released in 2016 and would have been written prior to the key events you mentioned. Claymation is also a very time-consuming process so the production of the video alone would've taken some months at least. The biggest thing however, is that this song almosts mirrors the exact plot of the British horror movie 'the wicker man'. I expect this was the main inspiration for the song and the political tension in the western world at the time of the song's recording and production would have made it an apt time to release it, considering the similar themes in both the movie and the political times
    jacinta143on June 27, 2017   Link

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