Reckoner
Radiohead Lyrics


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Reckoner
You can't take it with you
Dancing for your pleasure

You are not to blame for
Bittersweet distractors
Dare not speak its name
Dedicated to all hu-
All human beings

Because we separate
Like ripples on a blank shore
(In rainbows)
Because we separate
Like ripples on a blank shore
(In rainbows)

Reckoner
Take me with you




Dedicated to all hu-
All human beings

Overall Meaning

The lyrics of Reckoner by Radiohead are poetically intriguing, as they touch on themes of mortality, impermanence, and the interconnectedness of all human beings. The opening line, "You can't take it with you," suggests that material possessions and worldly desires will ultimately be left behind. The following line, "Dancing for your pleasure," hints at the temporary enjoyment and distraction that these desires can provide.


The second verse delves deeper into the concept of distraction, with "Bittersweet distractors/Dare not speak its name." This could be interpreted as a warning against succumbing to temporary pleasures that ultimately lead to a sense of emptiness or dissatisfaction. The song then takes a more positive turn, with the dedication to "all human beings," and an acknowledgment of our common humanity. The final lines "Because we separate/Like ripples on a blank shore" suggest that although we may feel isolated and disconnected, we are ultimately connected in the larger fabric of life.


Overall, Reckoner can be seen as a meditation on the impermanence of life, and an encouragement to find connection and meaning amidst that impermanence. Radiohead's poetic lyrics and haunting melodies invite the listener to reflect on their own mortality and place in the world.


Line by Line Meaning

Reckoner
The song's title and an address to someone, or something, that reckons or takes account of things.


You can't take it with you
A reminder that material possessions are only temporary and will be left behind when we die.


Dancing for your pleasure
A suggestion that we exist to amuse someone or something, possibly a deity or supernatural being.


You are not to blame for
An acknowledgement that no one person is responsible for all the problems in the world.


Bittersweet distractors
Things that temporarily relieve us from our problems, but ultimately only distract us from their true severity.


Dare not speak its name
A warning against giving power or legitimacy to something harmful or taboo.


Dedicated to all hu-
An indication that the song is meant to be listened to and appreciated by all humanity.


All human beings
A reiteration of the song's dedication and emphasis on our shared humanity.


Because we separate
A recognition that our individualist and tribalistic tendencies drive us apart from each other.


Like ripples on a blank shore
A metaphor for the fleeting and temporary nature of our interactions with each other, like ripples disappearing on a shoreline.


(In rainbows)
A reference to the title of Radiohead's previous album and a possible thematic connection.


Reckoner
A repetition of the title and a reiteration of the song's plea or address.


Take me with you
A request to be included or connected with something or someone direly needed.


Dedicated to all hu-
A recapitulation of the song's dedication and emphasis on unity.


All human beings
A final reminder of our shared humanity and the song's intended audience.




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:

@MC-kx2ly

[Verse 1]
Reckoner
Can't take it with you
Dancing for your pleasure

[Verse 2]
You are not to blame for
Bittersweet distractors
Dare not speak its name

[Refrain]
Dedicated to all hu–
All human beings

[Bridge]
Because we separate
Like ripples on a blank shore
Because we separate (In rainbows)
Like ripples on a blank shore (In rainbows)

[Verse 3]
Reckoner
Take me with you

[Refrain]
Dedicated to all hu–
All human beings



@saoirserosenstock8144

Song "meaning"- taken from the highest voted answer


The color of Goehte's masterpiece has rippled through the medium of Radiohead with their album, In Rainbows. The character, Faust, observes that life is not about some great search for divine light, but rather, it is about the practice of living with the enlightenment of God at your back; thus allowing it to guide you forward through your organic life, and not lead you down a dead-end path of obsession. This is essentially what the phrase "In Rainbows" means. It is the recognition that the source light which governs our world cannot really be seen nor fully understood by human beings ("dare not speak its name"). Although we have moments of clarity and deep understanding, these moments are generally temporary and don't last very long. As Thom Yorke said of the album, "It very much explores the ideas of transience. It starts in one place and ends somewhere completely different." This is the transient nature of human consciousness being described by the character Faust in the passage.;

Yet how superb, across the tumult braided,


The painted rainbow's changeful life is bending,


Now clearly drawn, dissolving now and faded,


And evermore the showers of dew descending!


Of human striving there's no symbol fuller:


Consider, and 'tis easy comprehending –


Life is not light, but the refracted color.


-Faust II



So who is The Reckoner?



At a concert in Glendale, Arizona, Thom Yorke stated:

"..it [the song, Reckoner] was born out of a very trippy dream, one of those ones you wake up from and go, 'aww man, I don't want to wake up from that, ever.'"



The Reckoner is the one who wakes you up when you wish to remain in your current perceived reality or dream-state. It is the transient way of true nature that we all need to reckon with and accept. For Faust, this means that he must live up to his bargain with Mephistopheles, who represents the Devil. Note that Mephistopheles is mentioned by-name in another song on the album: Videotape.



As the story goes, Faust becomes so obsessed with discovering the true nature of life, he summons Mephistopheles to help him in this quest. Mephistopheles agrees to serve Faust right up until the moment he reaches the height of human wisdom/happiness/fulfillment; at which point, he will claim Faust's soul. Faust agrees to the deal because he actually thinks it would be impossible for him to reach that height.



Ultimately, however, Faust does experience a moment of pure happiness, and so Mephistopheles attempts to claim his soul... that is, Faust is woken up from his happy slumber. Luckily, Faust is ultimately rescued by a group of angels who escort him to heaven before Mephistopheles can take him.



The theme of transience can also be seen in the previous song on the album, Faust Arp ("it's on again, off again, on again")... another obvious reference to the tale of Faust. The sound of the music, like Reckoner, is also heavy with percussion and transient in that it folds over on itself between piano & guitar portions.



The most accessible metaphor that I can see for this idea is how people tend to want to escape from reality (that's the "bittersweet distractor"), and would rather call in sick on their day of reckoning. They, unlike The Reckoner (or Buddha, if you prefer) cannot overcome the division between self and other (i.e. subject and object, which make for the transient/dualistic ways of human beings). Again, we have moments of clarity and understanding, but they don't last.. "like ripples on a blank shore".



@rajaiyer79

Reckoner
Radiohead
Lyrics
Reckoner
You can't take it with yer
Dancing for your pleasure
You are not to blame for
Bittersweet distractors
Dare not speak its name
Dedicated to all human beings
Because we separate
Like ripples on a blank shore
In rainbows
Because we separate
Like ripples on a blank shore
Reckoner
Take me with yer
Dedicated to all human beings



All comments from YouTube:

@0ethereal0

Used to listen to this while shooting H. Now I can enjoy it sober. Getting clean is possible. 6 years now.

@barb2162

Thanks for the POSITIVE Hope you are still there and here...

@Willymaze

Cheers for your recovery!

@jasonbarbush4991

try drinking twelve cups of coffee at 4 in the morning.

@jasonbarbush4991

8 1/2 year sober for me but i still smoke.

@balazstorok9265

Yeah, possible, but just don't worth it.

132 More Replies...

@eratoisyourmuse659

Im 36. I grew up on radiohead. Im am the mother of two teenagers. My 16 yo daughter is all into Ariana Grande, Rhianna and Lady Gaga. My 14 yo old guitar playing boy loves Iron Maiden, Megadeth and Pantara. Radiohead brings us all together to bask in the beauty of it unique sound, awesome vocals and sheer beauty. We bond. Its an amazing thing.

@ravishingravi

Interesting family

@bilalallash3905

Ok karen

@madasmax4342

I need a mother like you

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