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Album: OK ComputerReleased: 1997
This was written for the 1996 movie Romeo and Juliet starring Leonardo Di Caprio. While Radiohead were on tour with Alanis Morissette, Baz Luhrmann, who directed the movie, sent them a tape of the last part of the film and asked them to write some music for the closing credits (hence the name "exit music"). The band liked what they saw and came up with this.
The story in the song is about Romeo and Juliet, and their chance of romantic escape. Unfortunately, you can't change literature, and they don't make it. As the song says... "Now we are one, In everlasting peace"
Radiohead also contributed "Talk Show Host" to the movie, which was used in a scene when Romeo is first spotted.
The Johnny Cash album At Folsom Prison
was an influence on this track. When Thom Yorke set out to write a song for Romeo and Juliet
, he said he "had a half-formed song going one way, but then I got totally obsessed with the prison tapes by Johnny Cash."
Sonically, the Cash influence can be heard in how Yorke's vocal comes in very loud.
The instrumental version of this song was used in the movie Unfaithful
with Diane Lane and Richard Gere. It's on in the background while they are in the living room, towards the beginning of the movie, before things start to fall apart.
Thom Yorke (from Humo magazine July 22, 1997): "When we saw the scene in which Claire Danes holds the Colt 45 against her head, we started working on the song immediately. I had something with 'Romeo & Juliet' a long time already. I had a crush on Olivia Hussey, who played Juliet in the '60s, for a long time. I first saw the movie when I was 13. I just couldn't believe why Romeo and Juliet, after they had made love, didn't run away together. Romeo should have packed his bags, jump out of the window and eloped with her!"
In 2014, this was featured in the season finale of the CBS TV series Person of Interest.
The jazz musician Brad Mehldau released a cover in 1998 on his album The Art of the Trio, Vol. III.