They never learn
They never learn
Beyond the point
Of no return
Of no return

And it's too late
The damage is done
The damage is done

This goes
Beyond me
Beyond you

The white room
By a window
Where the sun comes

And we are
Just happy to serve
Just happy to serve

Lyrics submitted by Marquez, edited by BIRDDUDE830, exscapegoat

Daydreaming Lyrics as written by Colin Greenwood, Jonny Greenwood, Edward O'Brien, Philip Selway, Thom Yorke

Lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc.

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Daydreaming song meanings
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  • +8
    General Comment

    here my advice : Don't fucking read any comments about this song , just feel it .

    TheNeonDemonon May 06, 2016   Link
  • +7
    My Interpretation

    Stick with me, this interpretation is gonna make you shit bricks. See the normal video first and then the reversed, and burn them in your memory. This stuff is heavily symbolic, like pretty much everything Radiohead. Plus, all of this can be viewed as a dream, and dreams are symbolic in their nature.

    Notice how everything Thom does, he doesn't stop moving, he keeps on walking: this is him walking through his life, his memories, his problems. He will stop at the Cave, however we will go through this later.

    All of this starts with Thom, walking down this tunnel from the outside, from the "white light" along with a stream of other people. This "White Light" symbolizes the Higher Soul, from which Thom and a bunch of other people (you? me?) are separating in order to experience this world. Notice how people are coming from a bright, open, higher ground, into a dark, lower tunnel, thus the "descent" through the "tunnel".

    He then passes through some kind of maintenance room. This symbolizes the plans every one of us makes and the options we evaluate before incarnating into a physical body. He then goes on and reaches a hallway with many doors. He is choosing where to go, the life he wants; again, he has evaluated the options and is now choosing.

    Thus he's born, and he chose that family. Pretty full of childhood symbolism there. The loving, caring mother doing the laundry, the children playing and studying. A pretty good childhood.

    In the next scene when he sees the mother carrying the baby and he chooses to walk away from that, use you subconscious to interpret that. He stops and goes back. It certainly feels like a mistake has been done, or he's undergoing a deviation from the normal path. Citing Wikipedia: "He was born with a paralysed left eye, and underwent five eye operations by the age of six; according to Yorke, the last surgery was "botched", giving him a drooping eyelid." Thus the hospital scene. Notice how the medics are walking casually and not paying any attention to him.

    Then normal life stuff happens. A house with a woman reading stuff in the kitchen, photos of people (friends, relatives, symbolizing normal relationships), people doing the laundry, common people doing common life stuff. Then he enters a market where consumeristic stuff is sold. He then (has enough?) walks out through another maintenance area.

    Notice how untill now he just walked straight. He was going "sideways", he was experiencing only more of the same. From now on he will be always climbing stairs, thus going "upward", starting his symbolic ascent; he starts to go up during a natural scene and this is also heavily symbolic. Nature symbolizes purity, the original environment where man was at home, the only place one can go to find rest when society becomes unbearable.

    Notice also the maintenance areas: I think they symbolize "areas" of one's life in which one starts to "read among the lines", "look beyond the curtains" of what's really going on, when one starts to question things. Notice how these areas are always not crowded, there are one, two, or no people. Very few ask themselves questions, very few walk out of "crowded areas" into "maintenance areas" to see, to know, to understand.

    The music changes to reflect new hope, from depressing ("dreamers, they never learn, beyond the point of no return, and it's too late, the damage is done", referring to people ensnared in their illusionary reality) it becomes liberating. He walks up some stairs with pictures of trees.

    Notice how everything becomes white, symbol of purity, light. There's people walking in the hallway (the mental hospital in which he worked?), however only Thom is the one who finally steps out into a wonderful beach scenery. Again, notice the whitish tint of nature and the change in music. There's few people there and they're having fun, relaxing. Again, all symbolic.

    "This goes beyond me, beyond you": Self explanatory. Who are we when we look at the immensity of reality? Can we really change the stuff that really matters? Can we really understand what is going on? Interesting to note that Thom is singing this while "going up" on the elevator. He also contemplates the "light above", it looks almost like they're communicating. Then the elevator stops. It's not time to go higher right now.

    He starts wandering through this parking hall. "The white room by a window, where the sun comes through" This may be a reference to the mental institution, describing one of the numerous depressing scenes that Thom saw while being there. However the "sun comes through the window", so there's always hope.

    "We are just happy to serve, just happy to serve you". Having realized the meaninglessness (or the overcomplicated meaning) of Reality, he just surrenders to it, to the Universe, the One, God, call it however you want. Notice the "exit" sign in the parking hall: he's walking in the opposite way because in the not-reversed video his journey is "upwards", he is going somewhere, he is not headed towards the "exit".

    More life events unfold, an empty house (solitude?), he leaves his wife (this is reflected in his daughter slamming the door is his face?) more light, a library (he starts searching for knowledge, or simply he sees people wasting their time to get a Ph.D. or other stuff without any inherent meaning), again walking the opposite way of exit signs...

    More white nature. Night falls, he crawls inside a cave with a fire in it (dark night of the soul?). The first Half of his life is now over.

    Then "Half of my life" repeated 8 times. 8 symbolizes the infinite. Half of my life is reversed. Thom is (not so subtly?) begging you to play this reversed. Look up the ouroboros, the snake biting its tail, symbol of eternity, of the cyclic time; however we got an 8 here. We ony got half of it, the other half we will get when we will reverse this and see where this is going (two 0s make an 8).

    And thus half of his life has ended.

    But the other half begins.

    He wakes up from his slumber, his introspection has come to an end. It's time to wake up: he exits the cave and starts going back, descending, crawling, stumbling along the way. The sun comes up. He descends from the mountain (from isolation on "up high", from deep within).

    It's time to go back to his life. This whole videoclip was shot really well, because it is very reversable: when he opened the door to the mountain he had to almost force it open; now the effect is that he closes it with seeming respect and humilty, almost bowing to be thankful for what that place showed him.

    He keeps on descending. Notice how he is walking towards the exits signs and doors now. He has completed half of his journey and so he is now headed towards the "exit". Also notice how the violins reflect his illumination and the knowledge he gained through introspection. The same violins indicated the approaching climax in the non-reversed version.

    Now what we see are the same scenes in reverse. He comes back, descends from the stairs, the hills, and the elevator (notice how he looks up at the end of this scene in both reversed and un-reversed versions), the girl opens the door (possible reunification with daughter in the future?). However, one by one, he closes every door he opened.

    Again, scenes from everyday life with everyday people. He walks among them like before; however, he is different inside...

    Also worth noting is that once out of the slumber he is walking backwards. Forced choice because of the reversed video or is there a well thought meaning behind this? Try to "feel" this, try to sense its symbolic meaning with your being.

    The last scenes can be interpreted like he becomes old and goes through old age diseases in the hospital, then when everything that could have been done has been done, he is sent home with his family, although this interpretation seems a bit forced. Maybe he's just remembering what he went through during his childhood.

    He exits through the same maintenance area he came from. The other half of his journey is complete: he "goes through the tunnel", higher, towards "the Light", along with other souls who also have completed their journey. Thus the cycle is complete: the snake keeps biting its own tail; always has, always will be. Thom fades into the Light, walking backwards, having left everything behind him, while still looking back at his life. Then nothing.

    Nolfon June 10, 2016   Link
  • +1
    My Interpretation

    So, I agree with some of the inferences made about the video being symbolic of the experiences of life. However, I think the song itself is pointing out the fact that it's all in service to an illusionary experience or "daydream". The "dreamers" are the humans who are consumed by their ideologies (damage is done) and cannot correct course (no return/too late). The white room, to me, is likely meant to allude a hospital or point of entry into the world. In other words, the beginning of the "daydream" in which the process of learning to be human begins. The speaker believes that this process is corrupt but that it cannot be fixed (beyond me/beyond you). He is "just happy to serve". His song is a lamentation of the fact that he realizes he is in an illusion and is still playing his part in it.

    Ricesoupon June 09, 2018   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    I won't go into detail about the sybolism of the clip, I believe the lyrics to be pointed at climate change and traverse easily into one self's anxieties, inevitable disappointments greater social problems.

    Having said that, I think the final verse lines; "We are... Just happy to serve.... Just happy to serve.... You" speaks directly from Thom (& band) to the listener.

    And I love that, regardless of the hell, he can say it, finally.

    robbie27on June 14, 2016   Link
  • 0
    Song Meaning

    @Nolf THIS ALL MAKES FUCKING SENCE; IT ALL CAME TO MY MIND, ITS 4 am here. holy shit everyone would think am crazy seeing me right now. am glad this is the internet.

    The last door he opened , is pretty much the most symbolic one. you see , openning the first doors was easy , your first goals , growing up , school, getting your first girlfriend . easy goals , he oppened the door with ease. the doors afterwards were abit harder"a door with a red sign , fire alarm. pointing to extreme stress" to open, hence , university marriage , maybe "falling in love" , afterwards he kept oppening doors , the last heavy doors. thats ur last goal in ur life, its usually around 40 years old. its where you know you achieved everything the society / parents /friends told you to do. and something is fucking missing. Thats where thom york finds himself in extreme serenity, there were no goals more to follow for him to be distracted. hence nature. he starts walking through the snow. hence , its the hardest walk you had in your entire life , even tho , he is in serenity and peace with no stress on his mind. notice him looking up at 5:04 , looking around for any sign which helps him figure this out, the climb gets hard , its getting dark.5:21. this is important, he finds the cave. its warma fire, but still isolated, resembels depression. the warmth of my depression was laying in bed , watching movies and serieses for 9 hours a day and sleeping for 15. i completly isolated myself. ignored phone calls. everything. Notice how thom york isint really sleeping , he opens his eyes again , then recloses them right away. you see , depression is you being dead inside, but still alive. this is what this resembels. then the message comes which says that this was his half life, he came out of depression.

    hence , the second life. in the post above the symbols are explained really detailed.I dont need to go over them again. But everything works out in his life , especially the door opening with his doughter in it. he is also walking through life backwards , he is way too confident because he found it all out. he is enjoying life. he is feeling like a 12 yo kid again.

    Now , what was that thing that he found out in the midth of depression in the cave ? THATS FOR YOU TO FIND. for me it was music , I always loved music , listening to music. I felt lonelly because I rarely found anyone who likes my type of music. And I landed in depression because I could only see stress in life. never really asked myself what to enjoy. I then stumbeld on a group of people who enjoy music just like me. and that was when I woke up from depression.

    What would have happened if I didnt find this out? well , death. I wanted to kill myself. I pretty much would have never been here if I didnt meet these people and not kill myself, hence , him sleeping. this end is resembeld by the people who close the song at the end , and dont bother watching this backwards. they are really just too distracted by the goals they wish they could acomplish in real life, which they might think achieving them would make them happy.

    The last biggest smybol in this video. The both ends, his end when he was happy and when the video is reversed is the whitte soothing ending, he is dying between other people , not alone. and his life was easy before dying , hence the door he came through at the end was the first door, the easiest to open. his old days are filled with joy. on the other hand , the dark end , is the one where he dies alone , its the end some one has when he dont figure shit out , when he doesnt figure out what makes HIM happy , no matter what it is , Music , engineering , dancing , travel , creating things . ANYTHING. I wish i knew what was that thing that kept thom york sane. I wish i could , am pretty sure he himself lived through depression. I wish I could talk with him. I wish I could just ask him if this is what he meant. A simple ok would be enough for me. I need this confirmation to share this with everyone I know in my life.

    thisisfuckedup.naon January 06, 2017   Link
  • 0
    My Interpretation

    Usually, in a Radiohead song, the complication is to figure out who the narrator is. Is it Thom himself, or at least a stand-in? Or is he portraying someone else, with different opinions and values?

    The first three verses seems pretty straight forward. He's talking about dreamers (or idealists) and talks about the pitfalls of not having realistic expectations.

    The verse about the white room is where things get a little murky; there is no action, only a description. The sun coming through makes it seem like the narrator wants us to like this room, but it's still just a white room.

    On the final verse, the narrator tells us that he is happy to serve us.

    So my interpretation is this: the narrator is telling us not to dream because the risk isn't worth it. He provides us with a white room that is functional but plain and tells us we should be happy with so little. Then, he tells us not to worry, that "they" will take care of everything. The songs is about the people who dreams of better things, and the people who want them to stop because they benefit from the status quo.

    arrow77on January 18, 2020   Link
  • 0
    General Comment

    Dreamers [Checked out from reality. Crazy people] They never learn [They cannot progress] They never learn [New information is irrelevant because they never learn]

    Beyond, beyond the point Of no return Of no return [The tether's been cut. It's impossible for "them" to come back]

    And it's too late [A time where anything could have been done has long passed] The damage is done The damage is done [Whether physical or emotional, we'll never know. But there's irreversible damage]

    This goes Beyond me [The condition is beyond the speaker's professional ability] Beyond you [It's also beyond the listeners ability. By now we're getting the feeling of a professional trying to explain this to the listener to make the listener understand]

    The white room [You recognize this room] By a window Where the sun comes Through [This might your favorite spot. The orderlies are showing you to where you belong]

    We are [The staff] Just happy to serve Just happy to serve You [Ah. It's finally revealed. You were the dreamer all along]

    I get the feeling that the staff has explained this to The Listener hundreds of times. Somewhat willing The Listener to understand. But the listener never learns. Dreamers don't know they are dreamers. And in the end, it's always back to the white room and the window.

    It's better that way. The dreams serve The Listener just like the staff. They offer the listener comfort in a world that has somehow broken The Listener...

    There are many ways to interpret this. It's Yorke the staff and are we the dreamers? Does this song serve it's broken audience?

    Are we enjoying our window where the sun comes through?

    There are lots of ways to digest this intellectually...

    Do we need to talk about some of the insane interpretations on this site? What lunatic thought this was about global warming? Do they belong in a white room by a window? It's debatable...

    I don't want to be a jerk. Anybody is free to interpret things however they'd like. But I will say, this is one of the simpler Radiohead songs to understand. How can people get it so wrong?

    I hate to say that because it makes me sound arrogant. But have you read some of the drivel these people wrote about this? Oh My God!

    I can't help wondering what Yorke must think about some of these ridiculous interpretations. Is he laughing? I bet he is.

    atomic1067on June 11, 2021   Link
  • 0
    My Interpretation

    Hello everyone I haven't received read any of the other interpretations, but I'd like to add my thoughts about the song. I think the sound of it is very beautiful, but the lyrics and the strange "snoring" at the end makes it a bit creepy/gloomy (just as most Radiohead songs have a kind of bizarre twist to them, in my opinion).

    Well... To me the song is just about someone being a daydreamer but taking it a bit to far and ending up in a psychiatric hospital (I can relate to the first lines where he just talks about daydreaming and how it can go to far). He already wrote about dissociation in earlier songs, I think (for example in How to disappear completely). The thing about dissociation is that you can also do it on purpose, as for example daydreaming too much and ignoring reality too much, cause you don't really want to be here (happens to me a lot). The white room in the last part of the song reminded me at first of a mental health institution, but I doubt that Thom had been in one himself. Maybe the protagonist of the song is exaggerating the daydreaming to a point of no return.

    Buuuuut that's only my interpretation and how I understand the song, it is beautiful but with a hint of alienation, as always.

    Maybe it could be a genuinely beautiful song (there are many white rooms with a window, not only in psychiatric buildings), maybe it is meant as an ode to daydreaming. Or maybe it has something to do with politics. I don't know what's going in Thom's mind.

    AnnaMGon March 13, 2023   Link

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