Exit Music (For a Life)

The man lay on his bed, while it was cold and foggy outside. His dreams spun around the dark and beautiful night outside and the freezing melancholy within his soul. The weather certainly did not do much to lift his spirits, and all he could think of was himself, and had a conversation with himself. He decided to play a game before he left, to an unknown destination. He tried to wake himself up in order to play the game. While his limbs and muscles wouldn’t budge he tried to nudge himself to a waking state. He asked himself to wake up so that he could leave, leave the place and his environment behind.

He coaxed himself to breathe, for breathing is important for survival. The cold that set in caused misery and froze his tears as he forced himself to wake up. While he refused to wake up and face a world that was filled with wisdom and rules, which choke not only him, but also the makers of these rules. He rose up slowly, and in unison with the voice that woke him up, he screamed out loud and pulled out a gun from under his bed and swallowed a bullet. It must have been instantaneous but he continued to whisper curses against those who suffocated him. Like the medieval punishment of “an eye for an eye” goes, he cursed them all to choke while he lay in peace, and it soon was morning and the sun shone brighter.

Radiohead may not have thought of the song as a piece sung by a dying or suicidal person’s soul to oneself, but the song certainly seems to suggest so, in an alternative interpretation. Exit Music (For a Film) has been considered one of the most depressing songs ever which was written for the 1996 film William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet. The song also appeared on the band’s “OK Computer“. Thom Yorke was inspired by the Zeffirelli version when he was just 13 and wrote with lovers escape as a theme in his mind. The lyrics certainly stay true to the intended theme of lovers trying to escape before all hell breaks lose.

However, the song on a closer look reveals a darker and more melancholic sub plot which Thom might not have had in his mind. The song may speak of a depressed or disillusioned man who convinces himself to leave it all behind before “all hell breaks lose”. The father, in this context could be an authoritarian figure which loosely reminds one of a brutal society or significant person that continues to suck blood out of an individual.

The desperate conversation that takes place within an individual about to commit suicide seems to be one of the better interpretations of this modern classic. Completely alienated and filled with fury, the sufferer curses the society and the authoritarian figure to choke on the wisdom and rules created. These were the very wisdom and rules that drove the person to pull a bullet from his gun.

Life could be a movie in itself, with various characters and the protagonist, in a traditional setting. The exit music for the film called life had to be sung this way and celebrate the end by cursing actors that did not play their parts too well, and a director who wasn’t really appreciative of the protagonist’s performance in the film.

The protagonist of the film of life leaves life behind by cursing the director to choke on the cinematic rules and wisdom beyond which he can’t really think. The director or the authoritarian figure, in this interpretation’s case, is cursed to choke on the very technicalities and bookish knowledge that he forces on his actors.


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