Thursday, December 13, 2018

Spacecraft Blocking the Sky

Radiohead's A Moon Shaped Pool dives deep into the realm of the human condition and the bounds of earth and space. One of my favorite songs on the album, and it really is a FULL album, is called "Decks Dark." In "Decks Dark," Thom Yorke, one of the masterminds behind Radiohead's brilliant pieces, speaks about the human perception of our darkest moments. In a way, his point of view is existentialist; he argues that even the darkest moments of human life are a construction of what society deems dark. Being trapped underneath a societally forced perception is crippling and constricts humanity to view the moment as even darker. He sets the scene with powerful space diction.
And in your life, there comes the darkness
This spacecraft blocking out the sky
And there's nowhere to hide
Radiohead first sets the tone by creating literal and figurative meaning attached to darkness. In one sense, darkness is a time in life when nothing goes in a desirable way. On a separate level, Radiohead establishes a very literal sense of darkness, where a spacecraft of some kind (maybe you can imagine it as an F-15 if you're as nerdy as me) has blocked over the sun, making the surroundings dark. However, unlike a gorgeous, sleek F-15 crossing over the path of the sun at three times the speed of sound, Yorke describes a process of gradual darkness, where it creeps in without being noticed until it is all consuming. The most interesting part of this stanza, however, is the part at the end that states that the darkness cannot be hid from. In a literal sense, darkness would be the easiest to hide in because it conceals the possibility of being found. The way Radiohead uses darkness is fully captured here because the reader is made to feel the consuming nature of the darkness, mercilessly taking down everything in its path. Later in the verse, Radiohead elaborates on the all encompassing nature of darkness:
You run to the back and you cover your ears
But it's the loudest sound you've ever heard
Now we're trapped, we're dark cloud's people
We are helpless to resist
In you darkest hour
In this part of the song, Radiohead transitions to an extended metaphor of darkness in life as "the loudest sound you've ever heard," which also works along the same lines as comparing it to a majestic spacecraft because both are overwhelming and large in size. After the comparison is made, Yorke uses constricting diction to emphasize the overpowering nature of darkness. In the use of the words "trapped," 'helpless," and "resist," Radiohead establishes that darkness cannot be escaped. In the following verse, Yorke takes this relatively simple message and puts it behind an existentialist lense. Right after repeating "it was just a lie" four times, the song dives into this deeper lens:
Even at this angle
And so we crumble
Still turning heads, you know where it's at
The dread still covers us
You gotta be kidding me
The grass grows over me 
I interpreted this part of the second verse to mean that darkness is a perception, and no matter how hard people try to look at their bad moments in a different light, they still succumb to its power because it is human nature. Specifically, the use of "You gotta be kidding me" shows a human element to the struggle because I can picture myself saying those very lines in the face of disappointment. Yorke describes the moment after he realizes his darkness is constructed. The following emotion is even more constricting than the previous verse; Yorke is beyond just trapped, he is beneath the dirt with thick rooted grass. "The grass grows over me" is my favorite line of the entire song because it a strange image to think of; each individual grain of grass is rooted in the dirt, securing a strong hold in the Earth. Imagine being underneath a field of deeply rooted and growing grass over you. This image is a level of trapped that only this metaphor describes. Hence, Radiohead establishes that when you realize your darkness are miniscule in the grande inner workings of life, you become intensely restricted by the possibility of not living a meaningful life.

You should really listen to Radiohead more often. 



  1. I love your analysis of this song!

  2. The way that you block quoted really creates an alternative perspective for the reader to interpret the quotes.