Reckoner

Album: In Rainbows (2007)
Charted: 74

Songfacts®:

  • This song, formerly known as "Feeling Pulled Apart By Horses," was debuted by the band at the Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Washington, on June 23, 2001.
  • At the golden ratio of In Rainbows, which occurs 2 minutes 49 seconds into "Reckoner," the background vocals can be heard singing "In Rainbows." It was the ancient Greek mathematician Euclid, who first defined the golden ratio, an aesthetically pleasing proportioning within a piece. A mathematical constant, the golden ratio is calculated as approximately 1.6180339887. In a work of art it appears at 1/1.618, or about 61.8% of a way through. On In Rainbows 2 minutes 49 seconds into "Reckoner" is 61.8% of the way through the album.
  • "Reckoner" was an early working title for the album before it was titled In Rainbows. The album does take its title from this song's lyric: "Because we separate like ripples on a blank shore (in rainbows.)"
  • Guitarist Jonny Greenwood was asked by Mojo magazine January 2008 if he was aware that In Rainbows was a remarkable record. He replied: "Well, we spent more time on it than we should have done and you go a bit mental after a while. You listen to something like 'Reckoner' and think, maybe this is just a bad break beat. Now I can hear what's good about it. People around us were telling us it was really good, but what do they know? What do we know?" He added later in the interview: "It was when we recorded 'Reckoner' that we felt we'd first got something special on tape."

Comments: 8

  • Danny from Manchester, United KingdomDoes this not refer to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's 'Faust - A Tragedy in Two Parts' ??

    The reckoner is 'Mephistopheles' (the devil)

    Faust sells his soul for knowledge and magic power and all the pleasures the devil can bestow upon him. Mephistopheles receives the doctor's soul only when Faust experiences the moment of his optimum pleasure.

    The line 'you can't take it with you'
    may refer to the sensations Faust is feeling with his accumulated wealth and power.

    and disavowing the pleasure is heaven imploring him to disown the promise he has made with devil and turn his back on the personal pleasure he wants to feel in exchange for his eternal damnation.

    Dare not speak his name (Mephistopheles) is also a reference from the book.
  • Bobby B from North West, United KingdomIf the golden ratio point coinciding with the words "in rainbows" is true (brings to mind that myth that Kid A was meant to be listened on two copies at once, one slightly delayed behind the other, which was the most absurd rumour I've ever heard) then I'm flabbergasted. Not just because it would be bloody hard to fit the words in to coincide exactly with the right point (sequencing the songs before Reckoner to be the right length) but because it's a ridiculous concept - the golden ratio itself has long since been exposed as a rather silly attempt to quantify nature and art, and the few occasions where it does seem to hold true, it's actually nowhere near an exact 'mathematical constant'.

    Anyway. Lovely song, and a fascinating interpretation by Clint. I've no idea if what you're saying is true or in fact what Yorke had in mind, but it's certainly an interesting idea.
  • Hank from Sacramento, CaIt's a beautiful song that I only finally checked the lyrics out to the day after seeing them do it live..."You are not to blame for bitersweet distractor" notice it is singular when "distractors" could have easily been used - also, importantly, it is followed by "we dare not speak its name" - again singular....the bittersweet distractor in question must be sex/romance which we are driven by to unite with the other ripples on the sea...it causes us a lot of pain but you are not to blame - its conditioning...its built in...deal with it...dance around it, if you can....
  • Clint from Nashville, TnOkay being a Radiohead fan i have trouble even believing my own interpretation of this song but here it goes,... I study physics in my spare time; weird i know, but physicist have discovered that there is no real truth only probability, a sort of reckoning where each experience takes the relative individuals own input to trans mutate the world into REALITY, The source of yourself is pure and infinite but when placed into the human body you become tainted by the environment, routine, and social conditioning. With that said I believe the RECKONER is you, the real you, the infinite and God like you, your source but this God like you is SEPARATED from the human you at birth "like ripples on a blank shore".. The separation is why "you are not to blame for","bittersweet distractor". the distractor is the sum of all human beings collective consciousness. The line "you cant take it with you" i believe refers to, in death you cant take the irrelevant beliefs with you for your true spirit is divine and untainted by the corrupt world. So go and Dance For The Pleasure of your spiritual self. In the end of the song "take me with you" means Reunite Me With My True And Glorious Self.. "Dedicated to all human beings".... I have to admit at first i simply thought the Reckoner was God but things are never as simple as they seem.... I could be way off on this but who cares its my own unconscienceness that creates the truth anyways right?......
  • Maor from Haifa, Israelnot probably, the best song in the album
  • Mike from Boston, Mai disagree.
    all i need is sick.
    i like every song on it i think....
  • Joe from Dublini could say that about EVERY song on the album (except maybe 'all i need')
  • Frank Zappa from Baghdadprobably the best song on the album
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