Album: The Bends (1995)
Charted: 19
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  • In the video for this song, we see Radiohead playing in a flat overlooking a street, while subtitled events take place below. A man decides to lie down in the middle of the pavement. Another man trips over the man lying down on the pavement and starts talking to him. After a while there is a crowd gathered around the man and they all want to know why he's lying in the middle of the pavement. Eventually he decides to tell them, after warning them of the danger. At that point the subtitles are turned off. Whatever it is he says, makes everybody in the crowd lie down too. At this point the band come and look out of the window to see what's going on. Radiohead and the director have never revealed what the man says to make him and everyone else drop to the floor and it has been the topic of much debate for years. No one truly knows except for Jamie Thraves (the director) and the Radiohead gang and no matter how many times asked, they promise to never tell the true thought. There are a lot of theories however. Some people think that it something deeply philosophical that makes you think very hard - enough to make you want to stop to think about it. For the same reason some think it is a fantastic riddle. Thom Yorke has said that the man does say something thought up by the band and its not something that will turn out to be that he said nothing understandable. Jamie Thraves has also refused to say, but has said that it would probably have the same sort of effect on the audience if we knew. Who knows if we will ever find out, for now we just have to guess. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jimmy - St. Albans, England
  • Lead singer Thom Yorke said this song was "a competition by me and Jonny to get as many chords as possible into a song." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • British producer Mark Ronson recorded a cover version of "Just" which was included on his 2007 Version album. It was released as a single twice, peaking at #48 in 2006 and #31 in 2008.
  • According to Q magazine April 2008 this was producer John Leckie's favorite track on The Bends.
  • Despite its range of guitar sounds, this was recorded live in the studio with no overdubs.
  • In the music video actor Dorian Lough played the passer-by, who tripped over then talked to the man lying down on the pavement. He recalled to Q magazine June 2009: "I think I had a dodgy wrist for about seven years after spending the day tripping over the actor on the floor as we filmed it so many times! Initially we used a crash mat but Jamie moved it as it was in the way so I was landing on concrete." Lough added: "It was a great part to play. And although I may have done a lot of TV work since (including) Trial & Retribution and Silent Witness, I'm rarely recognized for that by the public. It's Radiohead fans who I can rely on to spot me in the street and ask 'What did he say?'"

Comments: 38

  • Jamie from FloridaYa'll really don't want to know. just keep watching news/government/mainstream/entertainment. Srsly, you don't want to know manmade horrors beyond human recognition (paraphrasing Tesla). If you want to begin to understand, study nhilism and post-modernism. it's all anti-life. Don't go there, seriously.
  • Siftcipher0 from HonoluluI think this song is about censorship.
  • Tommy from Ireland Listen the whole point of the video is that you don't know what the man says and it drives you crazy. When in fact you've just done it to yourself
  • Katie from TorontoThe song is about an abusive relationship. The video conveys the idea that needing to know or do something can sometimes be detrimental, resulting in needless suffering!
  • Katie from Toronto@Ian from Glascow, Uk. My thoughts exactly! What we don't know can drive us mad!
  • Katie from TorontoCuriosity killed the cat!
  • Jay from UsaWhat the video means to me: I feel like this is a perfect analogy (almost a direct interpretation) from the perspective of anyone who has social issues or any mental illness. Sometimes you just want to be left alone. It doesn't mean you're mad or in trouble or lazy. It doesn't mean you're a "weirdo". Sometimes you get tired. And it seems like at those times the "herd" can't let it lie. They HAVE to know what's wrong and won't accept it with politeness that maybe you a) don't want to talk to them about it or b.) don't need to talk to another person about it. They tell you that you're doing it to yourself, cops regularly harass mentally ill people etc... But the second you confide, you regret it... because then the poison spreads. Think about when a friend told you something like rape happened to them. How do you feel the rest of the day? And now that person has to live with the terrible weight of spreading the poison (and listening to heartbreaking amature advice like "go to the gym") and now you carry the poison... not together, but individually. And what would've prevented it would've been to just respect the guy's space and let him nap on the freakin' sidewalk.
  • June from Bali, IndonesiaI think there is a concept that this man believes about this life that someone already teaches that concept to him. And that's the way that concept guides himself to face this life. But what the man who is lying down said is still what makes me curious. Maybe this is about the philosophy effect.
  • Michelle from Newyork, NyThe song is about a person who inflicts the pain on them selves, Such as an abusive relationship. The song and video tie into together as people who are advised against this self inflicting pain that you do to yourself, the lyrics "Suckered you but not your friends" could relate to the person who chooses to be in this relationship being advised by her friends to stay away, or as the video the man is advicing everyone else "you dont want to know why i am lieing here." The person in thebad relationship insistshe wants to stay in the relationship knowing it can hurt themself while the people on the streets want to know why he is on the floor even though they are being adviced that they do not want to know for there own sakes. The man is lieing on the floor as if he is dying, he wants to be left alone he does not want to be helped everyone wants to know why he is on the floor ( why someone is doing this to themself) and end up causing themselves to be in the same state as that man. The idea isnt so much of what the man had actually said if he even said anything at all its more of the concept.
  • Langx from Philadelphia, PaI always thought he said something to the effect of "lay down and listen."

    Radiohead is playing above and I don't think anyone was paying attention to the music since they were so concentrated on him.
  • Jamie from Bradford, United KingdomHere's what he said:

    "Because I want to."
  • Ben from Wellington, New ZealandHe said "Sit the f--k down on the road"
  • Shyun from Seoul, ArmeniaHe said, 'I will tell you why if you lie down'
  • Ed from Supermanville, Australiahe says "the director told us to lie down now" so they do.
    there isn't a meaning. Rhead think they're being clever.
  • Lissa from Toronto, OnE=MC squared.

    If you're wondering what I'm talking about, watch the video again. That's the secret of what the man in the video says. Just watch the video, and turn off the volume if that makes it easier for you. It's how I figured out what he was saying.
  • Cj from Charlotte, NcIt's so simple people... I figured it out after 3 or 4 times of watching it... I'm not pulling your leg or anything, but idk if I want to spread this information yet as I just figure it out.

    and yes... he does say something and yes you would kinda freak out about it if it happened to you
  • Brigette from Melbourne, Australiai adore the beginning riff
  • Louise from Newcastle, --I adore this song. The chorus is something I want to yell at a few of my friends.
  • Jordan from Toronto, OnI think it's best not to think too hard on this. Then we become just like the people in the video. We become consumed with finding an answer that may not even exist. This desire to know will lead to ourselves wasting countless hours either interviewing Radiohead, or the producer, or the actors in the video, or trying to read the man's lips. I think it's best to just appreciate the song for what it is: AWESOME. But that's just my opinion.
  • Ian from Glasgow, United KingdomOf course, this is only my Theory.
    Radiohead's - Just displays the Stress, Curiosity & Anger that the crowd surrounding the man had created seemingly all by themselves, the laying man didn't provoke any thoughts of the people other than that he wanted to be left in solitude. Here is where I think the evil scheme comes in. Thom Yorke and the Director that created this video had absolutely no intention of spilling the beans on what the laying man said to the crowd because there was no real words to begin with, it is all an elaborate plot, observe.

    All the crowd wanted to know is why the man was laying there. They asked, they guessed, they assumed and created a hype unaided by the laying man completely on their own.

    NOW take a look at what is going on right now. If we were all to figure out what the man said, we would learn why he is lying on the floor, just like the crowd in the video, we want to know, we must know why! We have asked Thom ourselves 'What was it?'. What was the man asked? 'Whats wrong?' those two questions have the same answer, of which Thom wont say because he wants us to realise, that without noticing we have become just like the crowd in that video. We have asked, guessed, assumed and created a hype seemingly all on our own.

    That is what I believe is the genius behind this song, and whats funny about it is, it requires me to NOT believe it at the same time.

  • Tom from Geelong, AustraliaIf jawg were as fimiliar with Buddhist teachings as he/she thinks, they would know that 'holy cow' is a Hindu term and not a Buddhist one at all.
  • Garoud from Aricaexcellent last comment, and how sad and true is the fact that no matter who you are or what you do you will be forgotten, or remembered far far away of what you really were or did (Jesus anyone?)...
    kicka** song...whenever I heard it i listen to it 3 or 4 times...creepy but real this song is absolutely right?...everything you do, you do it to yourself? nope...I had fall in love and was loved too...but unilateral breaks are something that you do not do to yourself...
  • Yawg from Westbrook, CtThose familiar with the teachings of buddhism might have noticed this. Suffering is caused by desire. For example, I only suffer in the cold outside if I desire to be warm. If I instead desire to be cold, I will no longer suffer (although my body will still be cold and i may still die of hypothermia). This is what he means when he says, "you do it to yourself, just you, and that's why it really hurts." I think the most common example is falling in love. If you let your fantasies get ahead of you and end up falling for someone who doesn't love you back, it is going to hurt. But you only have yourself to blame for desiring their love prematurely. More evidence of buddhist influence: "... and teach you how to be a holy cow ..."
  • Jean from Calabasas, Cadont you think if it was really anything radiohead wouldve died in 1995 laying on some street.
  • .. from Rhondda"It was the craziest idea we could find for the video, we didn't wanna make a straight video at all, we're very anti-videos, that's why when we go to make a video we look at it as making 3 or 4 minutes of film."-Thom Yorke.
  • Pez from Rhondda, WalesMaybe it's like one of those statements, i can't think what you call them, like in scf fi movies if you say them to machines it makes them explode..
    Or has anyone seen that episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus where they come up with a joke so funny it kills anyone who hears it, it could be that, but that doesn't explain why the guy wasn't dead in the first place and i don't really know if radiohead were Monty Python fans, but that's all i could come up with anyway..

  • Sean from Blacksburg, Vayou realize of course that those other people in the street might be dead
  • Luis from Miami, Flwhat the man says is

    life is pointless in the end you will die and be forgotten

    well maybe not thats what i think he says atleast
  • Aylin from MontrealI heard that all he's saying when the subtitles stop is "I'll tell you, I'll tell you."
  • Gabriel from London, Englandin response to susan, i believe he says 'the meaning of life is...' and that's all i can make out...sorry, this probably makes it more frustrating...

    here's a thought though...surely the actors who took part in the filming of the video would know...maybe they could be hunted down and interogaed...

    you never know, it might work...
  • Susan from Clare, IrelandIf anyone can lipread, please check this video, because for a few seconds at the end, you can see the lying man explaining himself, and you can see him talking, just that you don't know what he's saying. So, if you or anyone you know can lipread, have a go and see if you can see what he's saying! It's driving me nuts! Post your answer too...thanks!
  • Zazkia from Am*dam, NetherlandsI'm sure that it isn't for nothing that we're not allowed to know. We'd all lay on the pavement otherwise!
  • Paris from Athens, GreeceIf you consider about the position of that man's body, it's like wanting to drop dead or something.
    May be a clue for that instance.
    It can also be a trick, just to make the whole videoclip worth watching.
    Anyways, Radiohead's cool... :)
  • Fiona from Napier, New ZealandHeh, Max, that's what I thought. The guy inspired them all to take a nap on the street.
  • Tony from Tampa, FlI think it may have something to do with peoples total lack of going there own way, everyone is so wrapped up in what everyone else saying. but no one can hear what the man laying in the street said. they just follow.
  • Max from Sydney, AustraliaMaybe there're just really tired!
  • Kraeg Minett from London, CanadaI believe the final point of the video is that if knowing a piece of information would guarantee your next action, is there any point in asking the question? If the answer doesn't allow you any choice in your course of action, would you want to know the answer? From the perspective of the man on the street, he obviously knew the effect his answer would have, and yet still he answered when asked. I can't comment further, but I'm looking forward to further discussions with my friends.
  • Eric from Vancouver, CanadaI always thought this song was about something bad that a person does to themselves or inflicts on themselves.
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