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Exit Music (For A Film) by Radiohead

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" >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Michelle - Shingle Springs, CA, for above 2
  • Radiohead also contributed "Talk Show Host" to the movie, which was used in a scene when Romeo is first spotted. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Frost - London, England
  • 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. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Sam - Coral Springs, FL
  • 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.
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Comments: 21

Not mentioned so far is that a piano instrumental of this song was featured in the Westwood season 1 finale. It was very well suited as the lyrics of the song referencing waking from your sleep, escaping. all hell breaking loose and hoping that your rules and wisdom choke you. All major factors concerning "the Hosts" predicament.Toad - Uk
This song is inspired by a Chopin's prelude (Prelude No 4 E Minor):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ef-4Bv5Ng0w
Gialloporpora - Treviso, Italy
When R&J came out I was so haunted by the song I became a little obsessed.Carrie - Houston, Tx
"youthanasia." Oh dear God, what are they teaching the children these days?

Anyway, good song, very haunting vocals (a hallmark of Mr. Yorke, I guess). However, they could've done away with that weird fuzz in the middle and end of the song. For me it really takes away from Thom's singing.
Jon - West Bend, Ia
This is an awesome song. I love how it was arranged.Dylan - New Britain, Ct
Does no one esle find the repetition of the haunting line "we hope that you choke, that you choke" poignant? If we follow the theory that this is about Romeo and Juliet, we see the resentment the two lovers feel towards their respective parents and families, since I always thought that this was directed to the 'father' mentioned earlier on; the 'father' represents the entire Montague and Capulet famiies and their pointless and purile fued. Also it reminds me of Mercutio (I think that was the one, not an actual member of either family, but caught up in their 'politics') who gets killed because of the fighting between the families...radiohead seem to update his line 'A plague on both your houses', which becomes the sinister line 'We hope that you choke'. However, the 'we' of the line is telling, and hints more at Romeo and Juliet's resentment, rather than Mercutio's. Even so, the imagery is there, which is everything when it comes to music, especially radiohead's...Gabriel - London, England
its about romeo and juliet.. it was written for it, of course people can have their own interpretations of the song.. but the writer did not write it about drugs.. or youthenasia.... you can take it however you want..Sean - Beeton, Canada
it's about youthanasiaMongrol - Istanbul, Turkey
and around the Sing us a song, a song to keep us warm, there's such a chill, such a chill""
part theres yelling,talking and other stuff, like somones outside somwhere populated
Max - Sydney, Australia
I think this is about a Man And his lover escaping from home..Like Romeo and JulietMax - Sydney, Australia
i always thought i was about domestic violence, and a mother taking her child and escaping. however, i have heard people say its about childbirth and escaping from the womb. its an interesting interpetation, but i doubt its got any truth in it.Rachel - London, England
This song does not provide any alternative ending. It begins with the hope that the couple may still get away ("today we escape, we escape"). Their only chance of getting away is Juliet's father not catching them ("before your father hears us, before all hell breaks loose"). The following verse ("Breathe, keep breathing, don't lose your nerve, breathe, keep breathing
I can't do this alone") is somewhat more enigmatic but it definately signifies the beginning of the end. They will fall because of their asynchronous deaths and their youth's agonistic haste. Each time they are alone--and alone they cannot do it, vide, be together.
Thus the chill of death comes, Romeo can hear Juliets mourning song as he plunges into oblivion and vice versa (Sing us a song, a song to keep us warm, there's such a chill, such a chill). This can also be interpreted as the chill of the world engulfing them, while only the song of love can keep them warm.
And then death; but this is a sentient death. Hovering above their bodies, Romeo can see Juliet's father wailing over the death of his daughter. Romeo is not forgiving; instead he becomes spiteful, gloating on the living loser of this fatal game: the mad laughter of the father is the nonsensical laugh of the idiot, of the madman who has brought about his own world's collapsing by causing the death of his own child. Those inept rules and dead wisdom--let them choke him.
Martin - Atlantis, Other
Thom Yorke has said that he wrote this song as a sort of alternate ending to the story. He felt that the couple should have just run off together in the end, instead of the senselessness of their deaths.Michael - Kearny, Nj
Thank You Michelle from Shingle Springs, CA!Andi - I Don't Like It Here, Tx
this is not about violence, or drugs.

'pack and get dressed before your father hears us' is used in romeo's case. he wants to go away with her, but as you lot know, a capulet would rather die than welcome a montaigue.

'before hells breaks loose' can be interpreted as romeo's death. if juliet's father saw or knew of them, romeo would be slaughtered and juliet would die. romeo would go to heaven, and juliet to hell because she commited suicide. they would be separated. and NOW that's hell.

'Breathe, keep breathing, don't lose your nerve.
Breathe, keep breathing, I can't do this alone.' is quite self-explanatory, me thinks.

'we hope your rules and wisdom choke you.' there is no tangible base for the hate between the two families. shakespeare didn't find it necessary to include one. i don't find it too.

'we hope that you choke, that you choke' choke and die for hating the love that can be born out of hate.
Frost - London, England
It's clearly about a home with domestic violence in it. I mean just listen to it. A kid who gets beat by his father and eventually gets free by commiting suicide.
"Pack and get dressed, before your father hears us, before, all hell breaks loose"

"We hope your rules and wisdom choke you"
Shane - Collingwood, Canada
The instrumental version of this song was used in a scene in the movie Unfaithful, while diane lane and richard gere are sitting in their living room.Sam - Coral Springs, Fl
The song is played on the ending credits of the movie Romeo and Juliet, but Talk show host was in the movie during the begining when Romeo is pining over Rosaline and when he's in mantuaIsabel - Union City, Tn
I think it fits the movie (romeo+juliet) perfectly, even though you may think in the movie they didn't make it, some would disagree. I love this song it was the first thing i learnt to play on the guitar when ok computer was released.Jenni - Bilbao, Spain
This song could be interpretted to be about taking an illegal drug of some sort also (today we escape, we escape... Before all hell breaks loose... Today such a chill, such a chill) people who have takin a hallucinogen of some sort and have heard the song would understand.Colin - Silver Spring, Md
The moment in the film when Claire Danes (Juliet) holds a Colt 45 to her head was the actual inspiration for "Exit Music." (greenplastic.com)Michelle - Shingle Springs, Ca
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