Climbing Up The Walls

Premier live : 14 août 1996
Sortie sur album : 21 mai 1997 (OK Computer)
Remixes : 25 août 1997 (Zero 7 / Fila Brazilia)


C’est assurément une chanson qui parle des peurs profondes enfouies au plus profond de nous-mêmes… de nos monstres cachés. Thom s’est peut-être inspiré pour cette chanson de son expérience de garçon de salle en hôpital psychiatrique, un de ses petits boulots quand il était jeune.

[quote cite=”Thom Yorke / The Times, 13 juin 1997″]You don’t need drugs to make extreme music,” Yorke chides. “Just reading the papers makes you feel extreme. Climbing Up The Walls, for instance. I used to work in a mental hospital around the time the Government was getting passionate about Care in the community, and everyone just knew what was going to happen. It was one of the scariest things that ever happened in this country, because a lot of them weren’t harmless. It’s like those huge 18th-century paintings, if you get really close to them, you ca see these little figures in the corners, these amorphous little monsters. And that’s what some big towns are like now: the shadows contain amorphous little monsters.[/quote]


Il dit d’ailleurs dans Select en juin 1997 :

[quote cite=”Thom Yorke / “]This is about the unspeakable. Literally skull-crushing. I used to work in a mental hospital around the time that Care In The Community started, and we all just knew what was going to happen. And it’s one of the scariest things to happen in this country, because a lot of them weren’t just harmless… It was hailing vilently when we recorded this. It seemed to add to the mood.[/quote]


La musique classique semble avoir pas mal inspiré l’œuvre du groupe, et c’est d’autant plus remarquable à la fin de cette chanson, où sur le dernier accord, seize violons jouent tous ensemble, mais tous à un quart de ton d’écart.


[button icon=’iconic-cd’ fullwidth=’true’]  le mercredi 14 août 1996 [/button]

La chanson est jouée pour la première fois en live, à Mansfield. Radiohead ouvre alors pour Alanis Morissette.


[quote cite=”Q #133, octobre 1997″]Between tracks Yorke’s light, accentless tones explain how the Radiohead had all bought (presumably OK) personal computers in a fit of “resigned panic”. In connection with Climbing Up The Walls he describes their experience of early evening support spots in America, “screaming about domestic murder while the audience is eating popcorn. Nothing’s happening. It’s brilliant”.[/quote]


Les premières versions sont beaucoup plus « acoustiques » que ce que l’on connaîtra par la suite. De même que les paroles ne sont pas encore bien fixes.


[button icon=’iconic-cd’ fullwidth=’true’] en 1997 [/button]

A la période de l’enregistrement d’OK Computer, Radiohead, assez en avance sur l’utilisation de l’Internet, distille sur son site officiel des textes et dessins assez énigmatiques sur le coup, que l’on comprendre mieux ensuite.

C’est le cas sur la page ’stuck in a frozen lake’ où l’on trouve ces mots :
[quote ]climbing up the walls*both managers and record company are nervous about such a nasty sound coming out of the speakers. this is a good sign.


[button icon=’iconic-cd’ fullwidth=’true’] le 21 mai 1997 [/button]

La chanson sort sur  Ok Computer.


En live, Jonny utilise une radio portable dont il met en mémoire des stations qui parlent avant le concert ; et pendant celui-ci, il passe de l’une à l’autre en ajoutant des tonnes d’effets par dessus. C’est un procédé qu’il a repris dans The National Anthem.

[quote cite=”Jonny Greenwood / Select, janvier 1998″]When you play the radio onstage during ‘Climbing Up The Walls’, what are you doing?
I’m tuning at random. I find two or three classical stations and two or three talking stations at the soundcheck and use them during the gig. I know what kind of music it is advance – I don’t want ‘Size Of A Cow’ to come out during the show [laughs].[/quote]


Le groupe communique alors sur la genèse de la chanson, son enregistrement  et le sens des paroles. L’enregistrement s’est fait dans la salle de ball du manoir de Jame Seymour, d’où une ambiance gothique… Thom éclaire la phrase “In the crack of your waning smile/15 blows to the skull…” avec une citation :


[quote cite=”Melody Maker, 31 mai 1997″]
Even bigger, even scarier rock track. Thom Yorke does his best to sound demented, but is out-done by the monumental chaos going on behind him.
Colin: “It’s quite horrible, isn’t it?”
Ed: “We always knew that song had an atmosphere and it was very easy to capture. The white noise is loads of violins.”
Colin: “We recorded it in the ballroom of this old stately home. Dare we say there was something Gothic about the environment? It was certainly very New Grave of New Grave.”
Key Lyric: “In the crack of your waning smile/15 blows to the skull…”
Thom: ” ‘Was it an accident that of the 10 largest mass-murderers in American History, eight have occurred since 1980, typically acts of middle-aged white men in their 30s and 40s after a prolonged period of being lonely, frustrated and full of rage and of 10 precipitated by a catastrophe in their lives such as losing their jobs or divorce?’ “New York Times October 17 1991 – quoted by Eric Hobsbawn in ‘Age of Extremes’.”[/quote]


Seize violons ont été utilisés pour faire le bruit sur le refrain et vers la fin de la piste. En fait, le groupe n’avait pas l’intention de rendre la chanson terrifiante, mais c’est plus ou moins venu tout seul.

[quote cite=”NME, 31 mai 1997”]Another particularly noisy track, “Climbing Up The Walls,” is distinguished by the use of several tape loops (Thom: “We had tape running around the room on that one”), as well as a bassline played by Colin on a Novation Bass Station synth. “There’s no distortion on it; it just gets that squelchy analog sound naturally. Jonny told me the notes to play,” Colin says dryly, “’cause I’d never seen a keyboard. Now for the gigs we’ve got colored dots on the keys so I don’t get it wrong.” “Karma Police” ends with an explosion of distorted guitar peppered with ugly dropouts, courtesy of a rackmount AMS digital delay. “That machine malfunctions wonderfully,” Thom says. “Ed played the notes that started it, but basically it’s the machine playing itself.” Ed explains that the noise was made by turning up the delay’s regeneration, then slowly turning the delay speed down.[/quote]


[button icon=’iconic-cd’ fullwidth=’true’] juin 1997[/button]

Des rumeurs courent sur des futurs remixes de la chanson. On parle alors de Massive Attack !

[quote cite=”Jam Showbiz !” avatar=”2 juin 1997″]In the meantime, look for Radiohead to return to Canada in August. They’re also teaming up with influential British band Massive Attack, who will likely end up remixing the claustrophobic track “Climbing Up The Walls” for future release as a single.[/quote]


[button icon=’iconic-cd’ fullwidth=’true’] le lundi 25 août 1997 [/button]

On trouve un remix de la chanson par Zero 7 (Henry Binns & Sam Hardaker) sur le CD 2 de Karma Police.


On trouve également un remix dit « Fila Brazilia » sur plusieurs supports du groupe. D’abord le single 2 de « Karma Police », mais aussi sur le single « Lucky » destiné uniquement au marché français.


[button icon=’iconic-cd’ fullwidth=’true’] le mercredi 1er décembre 1999 [/button]

Alors que le groupe enregistre les titres du futur album Kid A, Ed parle de « Climbing Up The Walls » :

[quote cite=”Ed O’Brien / journal en ligne”]wednesday, december 1st 1999
phil is presently putting down drums on ’how to disappear’ – we’re doing a demo of the song to present the song to an ’orchestral fella’. we’ve kind of shirked away from strings in the past as they seem to have been recorded in the same manner for the last 30 years (ever since the beatles). jonny is particularly keen to use an orchestra but not in the standard cliched way……..more like the end of ’climbing up the walls’. thom’s vocal on it was jaw-dropping. it’s very strange to be playing that song again as we played it frequently on the ok computer tour…………………….. suddenly you’re back there.[/quote]

Previous post

14 aout 1996, Mansfield, Great Woods

Next post

24 aout 1996, Manassas, Pavillion at Stoneridge



Amatrice du groupe, surtout en concert. Travaille sur ce site depuis 10 ans.


  1. 18 mars 2024 at 21 h 03 min —

Leave a reply