Life in a Glasshouse

Album: Amnesiac (2001)
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Songfacts®:

  • This song is about the media intrusion into people's personal lives. Radiohead were struggling to make the song work until guitarist Jonny Greenwood had the idea of approaching veteran Jazz trumpeter and broadcaster Humphrey Lyttelton to help out. Lyttelton spoke to Q magazine April 2008 about the collaboration: "Jonny Greenwood wrote to me saying, you may think this is an awful cheek, but we've got this track that we're having difficulty with. We met up in the BBC canteen, and because I knew they were sensitive about being dubbed gloomy I was hesitant in saying the feel of it would be New Orleans funeral music. I suggested a Louis Armstrong version of 'St. James Infirmary Blues,' which is very much in that vein and he said, That might be it. I turned up with my band and we just blew for seven hours with a couple of tea breaks. Every now and then Radiohead disappeared into the control room. We saw them waving their arms about and in the end, my chops were sagging, and I said, Genuinely, I think this is it, we've got it. Thom (Yorke) had spent quite a lot of time standing on his head in the little booth - or at least he went into positions of meditation - and he said to me, I think so… we'll have something to eat and then do some more. I said, No, we will not!"
  • According to Q magazine April 2008 the line "she is papering the windowpanes" is a reference to a story Yorke heard about a celebrity driven to covering her windows with newspapers.

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