Songfacts®: You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.
This song is about a car crash Thom Yorke was in with his girlfriend in 1987. She suffered whiplash, but he was fine. Says Yorke: "Has an airbag saved my life? Nah... but I tell you something, every time you have a near accident, instead of just sighing and carrying on, you should pull over, get out of the car and run down the street screaming 'I'm BACK! I'm ALIVE! My life has started again today!' In fact, you should do that every time you get out of a car. We're just riding on those things - we're not really in control of them."
Yorke: "So much of the public's perception revolves around illusion. That's what Airbag is about, the illusion of safety. In reality, airbags don't really work, and they go off at random." (thanks, rob - Newport Beach, CA, for above 2)
Radiohead first began performing this song acoustic, and the working title was "An Airbag Saved My Life," which was a reference to Indeep's 1983 Dance hit "Last Night A DJ Saved My Life."
Guitarist Jonny Greenwood: "Airbag is a classic example of Colin and Phil saying, 'Let's make it sound like DJ Shadow.' But unfortunately - or fortunately - it doesn't, because we missed again. It's that thing of lumbering around in the dark, but still being excited by what we do. We're discovering these things for the first time rather than getting the pros in to show us how to do it." (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France, for above 2)
This is the first song on the album OK Computer. The last song on the album, "The Tourist," is about reckless driving, which leads up to a car crash. Therefore, the album ends where it starts and makes a bizarre circle of death. (thanks, Spencer - Los Angeles, CA)
The original title of the song was "An airbag saved my life." During an XFM Acoustic Session in October, 1995, Thom Yorke said this was the title of an article in an AAA magazine that came through the post. (thanks, Tim - West Chester, PA)
This was built around a looped 3-second sample of drummer Phil Selway, who cited instrumental hip hop producer DJ Shadow as an inspiration. Selway explained to Humo magazine July 22, 1997: "How that man pastes rhythms to each other. The end result sounds a lot different than we intended by the way."
Kim Thayil of Soundgarden
Their frontman (Chris Cornell) started out as their drummer, so Soundgarden takes a linear approach when it comes to songwriting. Kim explains how they do it.
Tony Joe White
The writer of "Rainy Night in Georgia" and "Polk Salad Annie" explains how he cooks up his Louisiana swamp rock.
The top Contemporary Christian artist of all time on song inspirations and what she learned from Johnny Carson.
Tom Gray - "Money Changes Everything"
Produced by Steve Lillywhite, "Money Changes Everything" was supposed to be the breakout hit for Tom's band The Brains. Then money changed everything.