15 Step
Radiohead Lyrics


Jump to: Overall Meaning ↴  Line by Line Meaning ↴

How come I end up where I started
How come I end up where I belong
Won't take my eyes off the ball again
You reel me out then you cut the string

How come I end up where I started
How come I end up where I belong
Won't take my eyes off the ball again
You reel me out then you cut the string

You used to be alright
What happened?
Did the cat get your tongue
Did your string come undone
One by one
One by one
It comes to us all
It's as soft as your pillow

You used to be alright
What happened?
Etcetera etcetera
Facts for whatever
Fifteen steps
Then a sheer drop

How come I end up where I started
How come I end up where I belong




Won't take my eyes off the ball again
You reel me out then you cut the string

Overall Meaning

The lyrics of Radiohead’s “15 Step” are full of ambiguity and uncertainty, inviting diverse interpretations. At its core, the song is about the cyclical nature of life, relationships, and patterns of behavior. The first two lines of the song, “How come I end up where I started? / How come I end up where I belong?” suggest a feeling of frustration and repetition. The singer seems to be trapped in a cycle of behavior that keeps bringing him back to the same place. The line “Won't take my eyes off the ball again” implies a sense of focus and determination to break out of the cycle, but the following line “You reel me out then you cut the string” suggests that external forces keep pulling him back.


The second verse shifts to address an unknown “you” who “used to be alright” but seems to have changed for the worse. The singer asks what happened and poses two possible explanations: “Did the cat get your tongue / Did your string come undone.” These phrases paint pictures of someone who has lost the ability to speak or has lost control of their actions, respectively. The repetition of “one by one” reinforces the idea that things are falling apart, and the phrase “It comes to us all / It's as soft as your pillow” suggest that whatever has happened is both inevitable and peaceful (at least on the surface).


Some have interpreted the line “15 Steps / Then a sheer drop” as a reference to distance or travel. Others see it as a metaphor for the risks involved in taking steps towards change or in any kind of progress. The final repetition of the first verse and chorus reinforces the idea that change can be difficult and that we can be pulled back into old patterns despite our best intentions.


Line by Line Meaning

How come I end up where I started
Why do I keep returning to the same place?


How come I end up where I belong
Why do I always end up back in my comfort zone?


Won't take my eyes off the ball again
I need to stay focused on my goals this time around.


You reel me out then you cut the string
You keep pulling me in and then abandoning me.


You used to be alright
You were once good enough for me.


What happened?
What changed?


Did the cat get your tongue
Have you lost your ability to communicate?


Did your string come undone
Did you lose control of the situation?


One by one
All things unravel eventually.


One by one
Again, all things unravel eventually.


It comes to us all
We all face challenges and setbacks in life.


It's as soft as your pillow
These setbacks can feel comforting, but they won't lead to growth.


Etcetera etcetera
And so on and so forth - this is just one example of many.


Facts for whatever
The truth is, it doesn't really matter what happened.


Fifteen steps
This repetition of the same mistakes is a pattern I need to break.


Then a sheer drop
Otherwise, I risk falling off a cliff and hitting rock bottom.




Lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc.
Written by: Colin Charles Greenwood, Edward John O'Brien, Jonathan Richard Guy Greenwood, Philip James Selway, Thomas Edward Yorke

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind
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Most interesting comments from YouTube:

@t0ki0.h0tel._.

Lyrics if you need them :) :
How come I end up where I started?
How come I end up where I went wrong?
Won't take my eyes off the ball again
You reel me out then you cut the string

How come I end up where I started?
How come I end up where I went wrong?
Won't take my eyes off the ball again
You reel me out then you cut the string

You used to be alright
What happened?
Did the cat get your tongue?
Did your string come undone?

One by one
One by one
It comes to us all
It's as soft as your pillow

You used to be alright
What happened?
Etcetera etcetera
Fads for whatever
15 steps
Then a sheer drop

How come I end up where I started?
How come I end up where I went wrong?
Won't take my eyes off the ball again
You reel me out then you cut the string



@fany7574

How come I end up where I started?
How come I end up where I went wrong?
Won't take my eyes off the ball again
You reel me out then you cut the string

How come I end up where I started?
How come I end up where I went wrong?
I won't take my eyes off the ball again
First you reel me out and then you cut the string

You used to be alright
What happened?
Did the cat get your tongue?
Did your string come undone?

One by one
One by one
It comes to us all
It's as soft as your pillow

You used to be alright
What happened
Et cetera, et cetera
Fads for whatever
Fifteen steps
Then a sheer drop

How come I end up where I started?
How can I end up where I went wrong?
Won't take my eyes off the ball again
You reel me out and you cut the string



@leiydik3966

How come I end up where I started
How come I end up where I belong
Won't take my eyes off the ball again
You reel me out then you cut the string
How come I end up where I started
How come I end up where I belong
Won't take my eyes off the ball again
You reel me out then you cut the string
You used to be alright
What happened?
Did the cat get your tongue
Did your string come undone
One by one
One by one
It comes to us all
It's as soft as your pillow
You used to be alright
What happened?
Etcetera etcetera
Facts for whatever
Fifteen steps
Then a shear drop
How come I end up where I started
How come I end up where I belong
Won't take my eyes off the ball again
You reel me out then you cut the string



All comments from YouTube:

@scarymonsters9130

Finally an anime more confusing than Evangelion

@SugarJesus

Tokyo ghoul is pretty confusing too lol

@scarymonsters9130

Read the manga pleb😭

@mariamman

Oh, you probably haven't tried paranoid android or burn the witch, or weird fishes. They're definition of confusion

@Blue-du4cn

@Mariam man burn the witch is pretty straight forward and weird fishes is more of an artsy thing, not to be understood
this is just mental...

@nicktheunthicc

@Mariam man tbh I feel like this one's mor confusing.

32 More Replies...

@papertoymonsters2748

Radiohead really saw this and was like "yeah this looks great"

@marquisoflabyrinths

Ye it does

@versalgraphics

It does

@popisdeadisagoodsong9997

I bet you it was Ed's idea to keep this

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