This dance
This dance
It's like a weapon
It's like a weapon
Of self defense
Self defense
Against the present
Against the present
Present tense

I won't get heavy
Don't get heavy
Keep it light and
Keep it moving
I am doing
No harm
As my world
Comes crashing down
I'll be dancing
Freaking out
Deaf, dumb, and blind

In you I'm lost
In you I'm lost

I won't turn around when the penny drops
I won't stop now
I won't slack off
Or all this love
Will be in vain

Stop from falling
Down a mine
It's no one's business but mine
Well, all this love
Has been in vain

In you I'm lost
In you I'm lost
In you I'm lost
In you I'm lost

Lyrics submitted by tcaporale, edited by Mellow_Harsher, SpaceGirlSally

Present Tense Lyrics as written by Jonathan Greenwood Colin Greenwood

Lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

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The Present Tense song meanings
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  • +5
    General CommentIt reminds me of "the joke" written by "Milan Kundera".Well maybe because I`m reading the book by now and all my mind is badly stuck with it.But well,leading a life of disappointing thoughts of your future,hard work in a mine and living in almost a prison,and then ignoring this all by loving the most simple girl in the world,is the feeling that both this song and the book are giving me.The hero of the book is passing his worst times of life,rejected by both the university and Communism party,living in a military base and working in mines as his penalty,suffering from all the thoughts and sorrows surrounding his mind,but then he falls in love with some girl he wouldn`t even look at if he was in another time.Some girl that you just care about to forget your dull time,but suddenly you find yourself in love with her,as if she`s the most precious thing you`ve ever had in your life.Just like dancing in a deadly silent place with no music playing around you,as tears are gathering in your eyes but you`re keeping on dancing and dancing.
    RedBlueGreenon June 15, 2010   Link
  • +4
    My InterpretationWow! this song moved me so much that i had to create an account and write down my interpretation of this song.

    My feeling is that this is a very personal song and for that reason we probably wont see it released on a RH album :-(

    I think this song is about Thom's (and by extension potentially everyone's) struggle to realise "God" in their own lives. We know that Thom is interested in spirituality as he's said in interviews that he's read "the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying" and by his support for the Free Tibet movement.

    The opening verse describes how we all dance around (i.e. avoid) the truth that we are all spiritual beings that can become 'enlightened'. The metaphor "dancing round the truth" is one that we all know and can relate to. Thom calls it a weapon of self defense because most humans choose to ignore the spiritual aspects of our beings-we fight it off with ignorance,fear and hatred. And we fight it off constantly i.e. always in the 'present tense'.

    The second verse describes the justification of not seeking out the deeper truths of human experience.. "I am doing no harm", "dont get heavy" ....(apologies for getting heavy!)

    The third verse is when you come to a crisis point in your life and you are helpless ("Deaf, dumb and blind") and the only place to seek refuge is in "God"...."in you i'm lost"

    The rest of the song describes the vigilance required of some one who seeks after 'god' "i wont stop now, i wont slack off" because if you do slack off "all this love will be in vain".

    So for me this sounds like Thom has found some sort of spiritual truth that he wishes to share with all of us. (Heavy i know..and i'm not saying that Thom is the Messiah!:-)

    I'm just so grateful that youtube allows everyone the option of hearing this amazing song despite it not being recorded on an album.
    Iwasthereon April 26, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General Commentjust because I want to be one of the first to comment just in case this becomes like 20 pages long,

    on the surface it looks like either good ol' persistence through a rough patch of life, escapism, dancing with a lover when you know the relationship is about to break down and be over, or yes, getting lost in music. Or drugs. Or sex. Or love. Or Potatoe chips....
    Blackmofasa9on November 03, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General Commentawesome song i hope this will include into 8th album.

    "in radiohead i'm lost"

    RADIOinmyHEADon January 12, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis song is absolutely amazing.
    makes me think of some kind of shelter or hideout.
    audreyhorneon June 15, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentSaw this song from the Latitude 2009 concert (amazing solo Yorke concert, check it out on Youtube), very beautiful song, and I hope it makes it into their next album. The song seems to be about staying in motion, to avoid full realization of the person's present situation (which appears to be quite awful). It's sad, but the person is doing it all for love.
    bernlin2000on October 10, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis is Norwegian Wood Soundtrack by Jonny
    "In you I'm lost" maybe thom got inspired by the book Norwegian Wood
    FUNNYFUNNY94on May 03, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentFuck its on a freaking RH album right now and its so good to be recorded in studio. One of the best songs on A Moon Shaped Pool, so moving, so great. Makes me want to get up and dance and not care at all...
    nava115370on May 09, 2016   Link
  • +1
    General CommentUnreal of 7 great ones on this album...BTW, Daydreaming, Decks Dark, True Love Waits, The Numbers, Glassy Eyes and this are just fucking incredible...the rest is goid but man...
    mikeisagodd21on July 15, 2016   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song really hit home for me as a person who has always struggled living in the moment, or "being present," as they say. I'm always thinking about the past or the future, and it's almost reflexive for me to fixate on being some other place, at some other time. It's my "dance."

    Describing it as a "weapon of self defense," "keeping it light," "keeping it moving" feels so accurate. It's a way of avoiding the truth: I don't know what I want, I don't know where I'm going, and it scares me. I'd rather keep up the dance, keep my mind occupied in some nostalgic past or idealistic future than to make choices about who I am and what I want, for fear of failure.

    I have no idea if this anything to do with the intended meaning of the song, but obviously it struck a chord on a personal level.
    LostArton June 28, 2016   Link

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