Radiohead – Give Up The Ghost – Into Your Arms

Give Up The Ghost - Radiohead

The phrase “give up the ghost” has been in use for hundreds of years. In 1535, in his interpretation of Acts 12:23 of the Bible, Miles Coverdale wrote, “Immediatly the angell of the LORDE smote him, because he gaue not God the honoure: And he was eaten vp of wormes, and gaue vp the goost.” To give up the ghost is to die, to free the soul of the body.

In February of 2011 Radiohead released what Thom Yorke described as an expression of “wildness” and “mutation.” King Of Limbs, in contrast to the more conventional approach of their previous In Rainbows, is highlighted by the use of samples, beats and loops that swirl together to create an alien backdrop for Yorke’s haunting but seductively lush falsetto. That musically exotic setting, imbued with dark atmosphere, also serves to enhance the album’s themes of loneliness, alienation and mortality. The repetitious chirp of cricket like sounds begin to take on an oddly eerie tone as Yorke, floating mysteriously above, reflects on the afterlife and disappearing from life,  

“Slight of hand
Jump off the end into a clear lake
No one around”

“Give Up the Ghost” is a chilling and achingly melancholy song presented masterfully by Yorke. The underlying chant strangely serves almost as supplication, emphasizing the theme of finally relinquishing the hold of the body. Yorke, as if not convinced, futilely pleads above the chant, “Into your arms…Into your arms.” The song emotionally captures both a sense of resignation attached to being part of a world that offers no comfort and the psychologically chilling consequence of leaving the body behind and facing the unknown.

“Don’t haunt meKing of Limbs
Don’t haunt me
Gather up the lost and sold
Into your arms…Into your arms
Gather up the pitiful
Into your arms…Into your arms
Into your arms..Into your arms
What seems impossible
In your arms…In your arms
I think I have had my fill
In your arms…In your arms
In your arms…In your arms
I’ve think I should give up the ghost
Into your arms…Into your arms”

  • Not Yours

    Don’t be silly.
    It’s just like that Cutting Crew song….” I, I just died in your arms tonight
    It must have been some kind of kiss…” except in the future tense. It’s a love song people.