chansons

A Wolf At The Door

Inspiration pour la chanson : 1998-1999-2000 (frustration divers « for a while » + riff de guitare de Jonny)
Première approche  en studio : 8 décembre 1999
Nouvelle inspiration : 8 mars 2000 (agression subie par Thom)
Nouvelles tentatives en studio : mars 2000 (plusieurs arrangements, mais rien de probant)
Écriture des paroles : vers 2001
Travail en studio : mars 2002
Premier live : 23 juillet 2002
Sortie sur album : mai 2003

 

Titre alternatif : It Girl. Rag Doll
Autres titres envisagés : Keep the Wolf From the Door

A Wolf At The Door étonne déjà par le « flow » de Thom Yorke, qui débite les paroles en les disant plus qu’en ne les chantant, sans prendre beaucoup de temps de pause… Ce titre nous balade dans les différents styles de la musique pop. Tantôt calme et langoureux, il devient tendu et lourd pour finalement revenir sur une mélodie apaisante. Le titre met bien sûr en évidence la voix de Tom Yorke et les guitares, l’électronique étant pratiquement absente du morceau. L’ambiance est vraiment inquiétante, sombre, paniquante, alors que les versions live sont en général assez péchues (surtout en 2008, où Thom prend un grand plaisir à phraser !)
« Wolf at the door », c’est un peu une angoisse d’enfant : le mythe du loup qui attend derrière la porte, celui qui terrorise la nuit. Le rythme de départ peut rappeler celui d’une autre chanson, superbe, mais délaissée : « You never wash up after yourself ».

On a souvent rapproché le riff de guitare du début de celui d’ « I want you (so bad) des Beetles : (merci Yann)

 

Les paroles, très violentes, sont le fruit d’un tas de frustrations. Comme souvent, Thom a rédigé un tas de petites phrases, au fur et à mesure de son inspiration, sur un petit carnet, qu’il a ensuite tenté de réunir pour faire une chanson.

L’inspiration pourrait être venue à Thom suite à un voyage très bruyant en train… qui l’a particulièrement énervé !

Q: « Have you deliberately ignored ‘A Wolf at the Door’? I played it on the train from England’s Bath to Oxford, with the scenery drifting by… perfect. »

Thom: « Really? Do you know how close that track was to not being on the record? It’s odd that you mention the train from Bath, because I wrote the lyrics on that very same train. I got on the train one night, and because of what I do… Well… If I want some peace and quiet… I, eh… paid my full, eh, ticket, to get up the front… »

Q: « Are you trying to say you travelled first class? »

Thom: « [laughs] Yeah, it’s criminally expensive, but I needed some time, some peace and quiet. But what I got was a bunch of rowdy, posh city boys, obviously rich as hell, who were going to some fucking stag party. Thirty of them in first class – and me. These guys had two crates of Stella, a ghettoblaster, and the guy who was getting married was dressed as Elvis. And for three hours, I sat there while they ‘enjoyed’ themselves. They were awful, aaaaaaahhhhh! And the whole lyric is just about my revenge on them [laughs].

— Thom Yorke / Rolling Stone, avril 2004

 

En plus de cette histoire de train, on a aussi entendu parler d’inspiration « ragga » pour le flow de paroles :

Yorke had been listening to a CD of ragga freestyling when he flipped open his notebook of collected phraseology and constructed its extraordinary, splenetic rant. « It’s a beautiful song, and then he starts shouting, ‘Dance you fucker/Flan in the face’, » laughs Jonny. « I mean, fantastic, but what’s he on about? »
— Jonny Greenwood / Q magazine, juillet 2003

 

Autre source potentielle d’énervement, les dettes :

I keep the wolf from the door. But he calls me up! He calls me on the phone, tells me all the ways that he’s gonna mess me up. Steal all my children, if I don’t pay the ransom and I’ll never see them again if I squeal to the cops’ It’s kind of blackmail… I was gagged. I had a gagging order served on me. Indirectly, at one point. Over something, which I obviously can’t tell you about. But I have to say gagging orders are the most unpleasant legal invention known to man. They are sick. They are bad news… It just amazes me that if one lives in democracy you are still… you can basically be gagged. And when you’re gagged, you’re gagged. That’s it.
— Thom Yorke / XFM, printemps 2003

 

Quoiqu’il en soit, ce sont toutes ces petites phrases, qui prises indépendamment semblent ne pas pouvoir coller ensemble, que Thom a réussi à agréger avec un riff de guitar de Jonny qui lui trottait dans la tête :

With this, it was about a rhythm. It was the rhythm that fell inside Johnny’s guitar line, which is a really sweet, beautiful melody, and one of the best things he’s come up with, you know, I think. It’s amazing. And I really sort of… I just had that rhythm, that rhythm infected my head. And what happens a lot with song writing is that a melody or a rhythm or something stays with you like catching a cold. And doesn’t go. And during that time what happens is that I can then fit things on to it, it all fits and glues together. Whatever words… Sometimes its crazy cause it can almost be anything. It can be like nonsense, total nonsense. But it’s when you get that… if you catch the cold then the nonsense makes sense. If you know what I mean. It’s like you’re getting beamed it, or whatever, or you’re doing an Ouiji board and someone’s pushing your hand. That’s what it’s like. It’s not a pleasant experience necessarily. I mean, this was a deeply unpleasant experience, actually writing the words for this track and the state of mind I was in. But what constantly carries it through is the fact that I’m sitting essentially underneath this beautiful melody that Johnny’s written. So it’s ok, you know. It makes it okay to sort of be in that state of mind. Which is what I use music for a lot of the time. Not all the time, but a lot of the time. And the actual words themselves to me don’t hold the same significance as they might do for other people, because it literally is what was in my plastic bag, that carrier bag that I was carrying around that day. If you understand what I mean. That’s just what was there. I mean, I walked around for two days, going stark raving mad, which happens sometimes… and with this plastic bag with all these notes in it. And that was the song. ‘Bagman’, that’s what it should be called
— Thom Yorke / XFM, printemps 2003

 

It was quite weird. That song’s been kicking around for a while and I not really thought about how violent the images were for ages, until we came to trying to put the record together working out where it went. And I was also typing up the words for Stanley. And suddenly I was like ‘wow, this is pretty bitter stuff’. You know, all the stuff about ‘cold wives and mistresses, cold wives and sunday papers, city boys in first class’, all that stuff. I was like ‘bloody hell, that’s pretty serious’. I guess it’s just very, very angry, cause I couldn’t help it, really. A good place to put anger in is in music. I think better than a lot of other places. But again, the crazy thing about it is, I’m only able to put the anger in that song, because the melody itself is so sweet, you know. Jonny wrote this really sweet guitar melody. Where the words came from was just… that’s just where they came from. I mean, it wasn’t… I wasn’t even thinking that I was angry. I mean, I was just feeling like I was going a bit mad. So, I’m used to that now, I go through phases like that. But that was a particularly bad one. But you know, we were kind of reluctant to put it on the record for ages, because it was just so… we end every record with a nice sort of ending. But really, this wasn’t… the whole atmosphere and where this whole record comes from, is not that. It would have been false to do that. In the record there’s a lot of sort of fairy tale, children’s story things going on in it. And then that one at the end… again, it’s obviously a wolf at the door and so on, but it’s kind of the most sort of ordinary life, realistic place in the whole record. And it’s sort of like waking you up at the end, really. And waking you up is something really not that pleasant. Rather than waking you up and it’s like ‘uhh, it’s all been a lovely dream’… no, it’s all been a nightmare and you need to go and get a glass of water now. You know, that’s kind of what it is.
— Thom Yorke / Official Hail To The Thief Interview CD, avril 2003

 

1999/2000

En 1999/2000, on trouvait des ébauches de paroles sur plusieurs pages du nouevau site radiohead.com :

– comme sur la page « packednightclub ».  Archive : http://radiohead.com/Archive/Site4/s2_d.html

– sur cette page : http://www.radiohead.com/Archive/Site7/primelist08.html

– ici aussi :http://www.radiohead.com/Archive/Site7/primelist07.html

 

8 décembre 1999

Dans le blog en ligne qu’Ed tenait pour les fans, il évoque la chanson une fois, simplement pour dire qu’elle recourait à toute l’amplitude de la voix de Thom :

Tried playing ’keep the wolf from the door but it’s too late and needs thom’s rant on it. a bitty day. time to go home. saw only four hours of daylight – how do they cope in scandinavia during these months ?
— Ed O'Brien / journal en ligne

 

La répétition n’avait pas eu l’air de le marquer à l’époque… rien de plus… La chanson a du être lentement réfléchie avant de prendre une forme satisfaisante.

 

8 mars 2000

Dans le journal qu’il tenait en ligne, Thom parle d’une agression physique dont il a été la victime à Londres, et contre laquelle il a du porter plainte auprès de la police. L’épisode pourrait être à l’origine de la hargne que l’on retrouve dans la chanson.

<<<8/3/2000>>> got beaten up in the middle of oxford last week by someone who recognised me and saw me as easy target. only bruises so okay didnt go to police tried that once before and was accused of willing it on myself. a bit freaked out.magnets pinned to my body for shock. anyone going to tibetan freedom march in london this weekend ? http://www.freetibet.org lots of wierd things happening around me which i am trying not to be concerned about. also much love. am in need of protection. working very fast and very hard. aphex twin used to lie on a sopha hidden and play sandpaper records when he was supporting Bjork in uSA. …who do you think is gonna support us ? whos gonna want to. havent heard new Clinic single yet. just remember john peel was there first. before it got onto……..daytime 🙂
— Thom Yorke / Thom’s radiohead.com diary, march 8th 2000

 

mars 2000

Le groupe s’est mis à retravailler en studio à partir de 2000, en particulier en début mars, à l’époque où ils étaient sur l’enregistrement de KID A. Comme toujours, 3 ou 4 versions avec des arrangements différents ont du être tentése. Mais apparemment, le travail n’a pas été satisfaisant puisque la chanson a été reléguée sur la pile des chansons à l’abandon…

Ed: « This was a song we had… we recorded it on the Kid A sessions. But it never sort of… it never happened really, did it. And this is the best… you know, it’s one of those… it’s an example of a song, that we caught at the moment. It was probably the best version we’ve ever done of that song. And we recorded it in LA. »

Q: « How many versions were there? »

Jonny: « I suppose about three? »

Ed: « Yeah. »

Jonny: « Three or four. There was like a Heavy Metal one, a bit like The Darkness.

— CD d'interviews pour Hail To The Thief, 2004
2001

Les ébauches des paroles apparaissaient vers 2001 sur radiohead.com :

 

 

mars 2002

De retour en studio pendant l’été, le groupe travaille à nouveau sur « A Wolf at the door », et réussit à en faire quelque chose cette fois.

 

 

23 juillet 2002

Premier live de la chanson à Lisbonne.

Une des premières versions :

 

2003

Au printemps 2003, dans la section ’imaginery prisons’ de radiohead.com :



 

mai 2003

La chanson figure sur Hail To The Thief, nouvel album du groupe.

 

 

septembre 2014
Thom Yorke et Stanley Donwood font un peu de ménage à Oxford et publie du vieux matériel, parmi lequel la feuille des paroles modifiées de A Wolf At The Door:

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  1. 31 mars 2009 at 0 h 22 min —

    Quelqu’un a déjà remarqué des similitudes entre cette chanson et « I want you » des Beatles?

  2. 17 août 2010 at 11 h 35 min —

    A noter que Wikipedia nous indique que ça serait Jonny quii aurait trouvé la mélodie (je ne pense pas que les paroles soient de lui, mais qui sait ;))

  3. 27 juillet 2012 at 15 h 25 min —

    Ca fait un ptit moment qu’elle existe, pour ceux qui ne la connaisse pas: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0g9NCFHw4c

    « Simple » mais éfficace je trouve!!

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