Fog – Unveiling the Layers of Obscurity


You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Radiohead's Fog at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning
  4. A Haunting Childhood Specter
  5. From the Sewers: A Tale of Transformation
  6. The Pervasiveness of Regret
  7. The Lyrical Echo That Bind Us
  8. Dissecting ‘Fog’s’ Intricate Soundscape

Lyrics

There’s a little child
Running round this house
And he never leaves
He will never leave
And the fog comes up from the sewers
And glows
In
The dark

Baby alligators
In the sewers
Grow up fast
Grow up fast
Anything you want, it can be done
How
How did you go bad?
Did you go bad?
Did you go bad?

Some things will never wash away
Did you go bad?
Did you go bad?

Full Lyrics

In the murky depths of Radiohead’s discography lies a track that is as enigmatic as it is evocative. ‘Fog,’ a b-side from the ‘Knives Out’ single and later appearing on the ‘Com Lag (2plus2isfive)’ EP, is a haunting melody wrought with cryptic lyrics and a sombre piano tune. Its subtle build-up and misty ambience envelop listeners, inviting them to sift through the figurative fog for meaning.

Radiohead, known for their complex compositions and poetic obscurity, often leaves much to interpretation in their music. ‘Fog’ presents an intricate narrative that seems to explore themes of innocence, corruption, and the inescapable nature of certain memories or experiences. Its lyrics elicit visceral imagery that can resonate differently with every listener, sparking endless discussions about its true meaning.

A Haunting Childhood Specter

The opening lines, ‘There’s a little child running round this house / And he never leaves,’ immediately introduce us to a scene tinged with an unsettling permanence. This spectral child could symbolize the lingering of childhood memories, traumas, or a purity that once was. Radiohead has a knack for using childlike imagery to evoke deeper emotional truths, and here, that motif serves as an anchor throughout the song.

The child as a metaphorical device could also represent the eternal inner child within all of us, suggesting that no matter how far we stray into adulthood, the echoes of our younger selves remain, perpetually ‘running round this house,’ a house that could be the mind or the soul.

From the Sewers: A Tale of Transformation

When Thom Yorke croons about the fog rising from the sewers, there’s a palpable shift in the atmosphere. The fog, with its slow, creeping nature, could be emblematic of subconscious thoughts or suppressed realities emerging to the surface. It’s as if these formless thoughts manifest into a physical obscurity, illuminating the dark with their eerie glow.

The sewers here might also allude to the grimier, hidden parts of society or oneself—the dark and ignored passages where unpleasant truths fester. Baby alligators ‘growing up fast’ in this environment suggest a rapid loss of innocence or the mutation of pure intentions into something more sinister. The song leaves one pondering about the influences that lead to such transformations.

The Pervasiveness of Regret

The haunting repetition of ‘Did you go bad?’ serves as a chilling refrain that echoes throughout the song. This rhetorical question to an undefined subject invites listeners to reflect on personal moments of moral ambiguity or downturns. It’s a question that pokes and prods at the listener’s conscience, reminding us that the path from grace is often invisible until one has arrived at an unintended destination.

The song nudges us to consider the nature of corruption—whether it’s a slow descent or a sudden flip of a switch. It asks us to consider that perhaps our choices, like fog, can shroud our lives in ways that are hard to predict or understand.

The Lyrical Echo That Bind Us

‘Some things will never wash away’ is a line that encapsulates the enduring theme of the song. There’s an acknowledgment here of an indelible mark left by certain experiences, a stain that no amount of time or effort can erase from the slate of our consciousness.

Through this refrain, Radiohead taps into a universal sentiment—the idea that despite the constant flow of life, there are moments cemented within us, creating our own personal fogs that we navigate, perhaps forever. It is an admission of the scars we carry and the sometimes futile attempt to forget or cleanse them.

Dissecting ‘Fog’s’ Intricate Soundscape

Beyond the lyrical content, ‘Fog’ astonishes with its simplicity and complexity. The plaintive piano arrangement is sparse, yet it carries a weighty emotional pull—a hallmark of Radiohead’s ability to convey mood through music. The song doesn’t adhere to a traditional structure, rather it drifts and meanders much like the fog it describes, allowing the haunting atmosphere to take precedence over melody.

Radiohead’s choice to leave ‘Fog’ off a main album speaks volumes to the song’s raw intimacy. Sometimes the tracks that are tucked away reveal the richest insights into a band’s psyche, providing a rare glimpse into the inner workings of their artistic vision. As the notes linger in the air, one can’t help but feel the subtle power of ‘Fog,’ a reminder of the band’s masterful musical narration.

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