The Tourist

Album: OK Computer (1997)

Songfacts®:

  • This is the last song on OK Computer, and it deals with a reckless driver. The first song on the album is "Airbag," so this serves as a warning of impending disaster. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    rob - Newport Beach, CA
  • According to Q magazine (April 2008) this was written by Jonny Greenwood in response to seeing a group of tourists dash through a town in France. It was intended to be a song about the "speed you live your life with." Yorke later added lyrics that he'd written on holiday in Prague.
  • Jonny Greenwood (from Humo magazine July 22, 1997): "That is MY song. I was surprised that the other four let me do it. 'The Tourist' doesn't sound like Radiohead at all. It's a song where there doesn't have to happen anything every three seconds. It has become a song with space."
  • The "Hey man, slow down" line is something Thom Yorke came up with when the band was on tour in Germany. As usual, he was paranoid and didn't get much sleep. He walked out to get food, and a dog started barking at him. "I'm staring at this dog, and everyone else is carrying on," he told Rolling Stone. "That's where 'hey, man, slow down' comes from. It sounds like it's all about technology and stuff, but it's not."
  • Jonny Greenwood played the main melody on a Mellotron, a vintage keyboard that plays sounds recorded onto tape loops.

Comments: 7

  • Hlemma from PhoenixOne of the greatest closing tracks on any rock album. My favorite Radiohead song.
  • Garett from Aurora, IlOn the album Greenwood gets sole authorship, while Pandora lists the entire band. Song is left off the sheet music book entirely when it is certainly in their top 20. A good song to end the album I agree.
  • Matt from Toronto, CanadaYeah, your definately right Anthony, Jonny Greenwood wrote it and it is about tourists he observed in france... it would be nice to change that WRONG songfact, but o well.
  • Anthony from Huntsville, TnI read somewhere that Jonny Greenwood(the guitarist)was in Paris at the Louvre observing American tourist.Like they were running around trying to see everything in a short amout of time ("idiot slow down"). So he thought your in such a beautiful place with beautiful art just take your time slow down and enjoy it. It also speaks of how the tourist seems to get overcharged."They ask me where the hell im going, at a thousand feet per second",a reference to hearing the French language and not understanding it. I love Radiohead and "O.K. Computer" is one of my favorite albums.
  • Keegan from Richmond, EnglandI was under the distinct impression that the entire album of OK computer was written as a near death experience and how your life is supposed to flash before your eyes i.e. Airbag- this is a car crash (the near death experience) all of the middle songs are different times or parts of this persons life which flash before his/her eyes e.g. No surprises- about a time when they contemplated suicide, Electioneering- politics etc and finnaly that the tourist being the last song was the moment just before the car crashes and airbag starts, so i suppose it could be seen as a cycle
  • Christine from Sunderland, EnglandIt's the perfect end song too finish the album.
  • Andrew from St. Louis, MoThis might be my favorite song off of OK Computer...so beautiful.
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