“How to Disappear Completely” by Radiohead 

It has been well documented that there are two main inspirations directly behind the lyrics of “How to Disappear Completely”. As far as the first verse goes, Thom Yorke had a dream where, according to his own words, he was helplessly “floating down the Liffey” (river) and “flying around Dublin”. Then concerning the chorus, where the vocalist asserts that he’s “not here” even though he is, that sentiment came to him via Michael Stipe, whom some readers would instantly recognize as the frontman of another rock band, R.E.M. And what it suggests, most simply put, is shutting one’s self off from the outside world when feeling overly stressed.

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Radiohead's How to Disappear Completely at Lyrics.org.

Now what actually lies at the foundation of all of these feelings is what was, in reality, Thom’s adverse reaction to making it big. Initially – as with most of us it can be said – Yorke was under the impression that becoming a celebrity would edify his life. But upon actually blowing up, Yorke discovered that celebrity had the opposite effect on him personally. 

So as the story goes, he almost quit the game even though at the time, as far as their profession is concerned, Radiohead was on top of the world.

That then brings us to the title and what can be deemed the central theme of this piece. The name of this track was derived from a similarly-titled book. And said text is literally about disappearing, i.e. dropping off the face of the Earth as you are and taking on a new identity.


So combining all of these ideas with the lyrics, which themselves are pretty simple, the thesis sentiment that comes forth is pretty straightforward. The vocalist is an individual who sometimes fantasizes about falling off the grid, as some would say. In other words, it can be reasonably postulated that he’s somehow depressed or perturbed, but it isn’t such that he wants to harm himself or anything like that. Instead, in a roundabout way, what Thom is basically doing is expressing a desire to effectively get away from it all.

"How to Disappear Completely" Lyrics

When was “How to Disappear Completely” released?

Radiohead is a band of rockers from England who hit their professional peak around the turn of the century. It was also during that time, on 2 October 2000, that “How to Disappear Completely” was released. The tune was part of the group’s fourth-studio album, a project titled “Kid A”, which came to us via Parlophone Records and Capitol.

Song Credits

The title of this song was inspired by a book that came out in 1985 called How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found by one Doug Richmond.

Radiohead bandmates composed “How to Disappear Completely”. We therefore have the list of credited writers looking like this:

  • Thom Yorke
  • Ed O’Brien
  • Philip Selway
  • Jonny Greenwood
  • Colin Greenwood

The band wrote this song while working on “OK Computer” (1997), the studio album which preceded “Kid A” and that stands as the group’s most-successful LP to date.

This song was produced by the entire Radiohead crew alongside Nigel Goodrich. And contributing to the instrumental is a group known as Orchestra of St John’s. In fact said group, who holds down the string section on the track, recorded their contribution at Dorchester Abby, i.e. a church in the UK that is nearly a millennia old.

Interesting to Note:

“How to Disappear Completely” has been noted by Yorke as being one of his personal favorites amongst the band’s catalog. And that notion has been buttressed by readers of Rolling Stone, who in 2011 ranked this as one of “The 10 Best Radiohead Songs”. Accordingly this track, which by the way was not issued as a single, also appeared on the band’s 2008 compilation album, “Radiohead: The Best Of”.

How to Disappear Completely

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