Climbing Up The Walls

Album: OK Computer (1997)


  • This is the first track in the band's repertoire to be described as "scary." It relies heavily on strings, but not in the conventional way. The string section features 16 different violins playing quarter tones apart from each other.
  • Lead singer Thom Yorke: "This is about the unspeakable. Literally skull-crushing. I used to work in a mental hospital around the time that Care In The Community started, and we all just knew what was going to happen. And it's one of the scariest things to happen in this country, because a lot of them weren't just harmless... It was hailing violently when we recorded this. It seemed to add to the mood."
  • More from Yorke: "Some people can't sleep with the curtains open in case they see the eyes they imagine in their heads every night burning through the glass. Lots of people have panic buttons fitted in their bedrooms so they can reach over and set the alarm off without disturbing the intruder. This song is about the cupboard monster." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Michelle - Shingle Springs, CA, for all above
  • Radiohead recorded the OK Computer album in the mansion of actress Jane Seymour, who was busy filming her show Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Ed O'Brien felt that the gothic mood of this track was the result of recording in its library. The Cure also recorded their 1996 Wild Mood Swings album in Seymour's mansion.
  • The phrase "Climbing up the walls" means being in a state of agitation through stress or worry.
  • Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood sometimes uses a radio when they perform this, tuning it to different stations during the song. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France, for above 2
  • The string coda at the end was largely inspired by an interest the band had in modern Polish composer Krzystof Penderecki, whose works also feature on the soundtrack to Stanley Kubrick's The Shining.

Comments: 20

  • Rebekah M. from ChicagoWhen I discovered this song, someone important to me had recently died and I felt like the despair in that last scream really matched what I was feeling at that moment.
  • Lady from Unknowni always thought the song was about rape for some reason. idk, i just got that vibe. like a pyscho stalker who eventually rapes the girl, from the pov of the stalker. either way- it's creepy af.
  • Jigz from Child Of The, AustraliaThe power trip reference sums up the clarity of production when amplified on a sound sound system, you'll see what I mean. (crank way past eleven)
  • Jigz from Child Of The, Australia1997 Fila Brazillia remix is the most amazing power trip with Thom's voice being ever so clear.
    get lost in it people!!!!
  • Ernie from Fort Myers, FlI have panic attacks soooooooooooo this song really taylors to my life.
  • Garoud from Arica, Chileok...not to disturb anyone but this song makes me fell like the pick in the ice...I love radiohead for the depression-P.T.D.-S.A.C. that gives me... but that's henry (SH4), a "walter" has lock me inside my own apartment...(game reference)

    pd: this song is SO NOT about sex
    ppd: the zero7 mix (available on ARES) is an impressive remix...does anyone else knows a cover or remix?
  • Dylan from New Britain, CtThis is almost like a taste of Kid A. I think of the cover to Kid A during the chorus. Those mountains....the colors. This song is so cool, probobly my favorite off O.K. Computer.
  • Gabriel from London, EnglandHaunting and sinister, are really the only two words that can sum up this song...It reminds me of someone being possessed by a demon, either religiously or psychologically speaking. Paranoia pervades the mind and soul of the 'victim', while the voice of this demon tries to reassure the subject that they will be 'friends till [they] die', much in the same way a repist or abuser will try to reassure their victim that everything is normal and that there is no need for panic or alarm. The voice/demon seems to be in total control of the person's life: 'I am the key to the lock in your house, that keeps you're toys in the basement'. In asking the subject to 'open up your skull' and reminding them that 'either way you turn, i'll be there' the voice/demon utterly dominates every aspect of the subject's life. It is no small wonder then that they are paranoid and almost mockingly told to 'lock the kids in safe tonight' by the voice, as if THAT would make any difference. This song, in my opinion is an equivelant to a horror movie, something akin to the ring or the grudge, something with weird, drippy creatures that appear EVERYWHERE, stuff of pure horror....SLEEP TIGHT! (and dont forget to shut the eyes in the cupboards!!)
  • Mongrol from Istanbul, Turkeyam i the only one to think this song is ALL about sex????????

  • Max from Sydney, AustraliaAfter reading theese songfacts ( a few days ago from me typing this now) i thought i wouldn't be able to get to sleep ( i also read the lyrics) so i slept with me hallway light on aand i fell asleep in the first 10 minutes or so...this song in scary and yes f*@$ed up lyrics.
  • Pete from Wheaton, MdIt's not only about a child getting molested (yeah, some f***ed up lyrics!), but about how that experience is now at the very core of the victim's sole and will "climb up the walls" (like the markings for height as one gets older) with him or her. The beginning of the guitar solo is two notes and then two higher notes, the different pairs of notes are connected by the same interval as if to say musically "either way you turn, I'll be there." Also, both the guitar solo, and the violins in the end are all ascending, like climbing up.
  • Alexander from Winnipeg, CanadaThis song is amazing, it's like the god of music
  • Darksoul from Toronto, CanadaThis is song scare the hell out of me, especially in the dark.

    It reminds me of the fear which I have when walking down an unfamiliar road/street/neighbourhood etc.. or late at night when you have all these idea in your head on what can happen to you.

    I often see this song as someone who has lots of fears for whatever reason and has a pre-conceived idea on what the intruder may look like/or do.
  • Indre from Wollongong, Australiaone of my favourite songs of all time. so depressing but so beautiful. ironically, beautiful because of the depressing mood.
  • Vicky from Millis, MaThis is my favorite song /ever/. I have this bad habit of listening to it whenever I'm upset, however.. makes me 10x more distraught.
  • Tim from Kilkenny, IrelandI remember the first time I listened to this song was on holidays during a thunderstorm. The remainder of my stay was ruined . . .
  • Lane Presson from Jackson, WyThis song reminds me of a lot of relationships I've had with needy people. I could try to isolate them but they will always be there climbing up my walls I have built around them. I am somewhat of a needy person myself and I try to terrorize other people who shut me off.
  • Ian from New York, NyMy third favorite Radiohead song after How to disappear completly and Motion Picture Soundtrack. This song is super creepy and is one of the few times Thom actually screams but, like most of the song, he doesn't do it normally.
  • Kari from Iowa City, IaI've never actually read the lyrics while listening to the song, but now that I have....I'm really depressed. :-/
  • Kristi from Ivor, VaThis song is GOOD. o.o
see more comments

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