Like Spinning Plates

Like Spinning Plates

Song infobox
Name = Like Spinning Plates
Artist = Radiohead
Album = Amnesiac
Released = 4 June 2001
track_no = 10
Recorded = Late 2000
Genre = Electronic
Length = 3:57
Writer =
Label = EMI, Parlophone, Capitol
Producer = Nigel Godrich, Radiohead
Tracks =
# Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box
# Pyramid Song
# Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors
# You and Whose Army?
# I Might Be Wrong
# Knives Out
# Morning Bell/Amnesiac
# Dollars and Cents
# Hunting Bears
# Like Spinning Plates
# Life in a Glasshouse

"Like Spinning Plates" is a song written by the English alternative rock band Radiohead that appears on their 2001 album "Amnesiac". It also appears on .

ong Structure

The song is built over the reversed backing track of an electronic version of the then unreleased "I Will" (which would later be released in a much different form on Hail To The Thief). According to Thom Yorke, in an interview with The Wire, "We'd turned the tape [of "I Will"] around , and I was in another room, heard the vocal melody coming backwards, and thought, 'That's miles better than the right way round', then spent the rest of the night trying to learn the melody." [ Like Spinning Plates ] ]

To achieve the song's distorted vocals, Yorke learned to sing the vocals backwards. Then, after hearing them back, he sang the backwards vocals backwards again, giving them an uneasy sound. This technique is similar to ones used by The Beatles and The Stone Roses on some of their songs. []

Colin Greenwood said of the vocals, "In Copenhagen, I was listening to Woman's Hour. They were talking about this English composer, whose name I can't remember, who wrote a piece of music for a singer where all the phrasings were backward but she sung it forward. Thom sung the backwards melody. It was recorded forward then listened to backwards and he did the phrasing so as to create backward sounding words but it's sung forwards. It's kind of my favourite track."

On Amnesiac, the song segues into the final track on the album, Life in a Glasshouse through the electronic noises at the start of the latter.


Due to the difficulty of performing this (along with many other songs from that era), the band had to rethink how to perform Like Spinning Plates, without any in-studio wizardry. On live performances, Thom Yorke usually plays on upright piano, and is sometimes joined by synths from Jonny Greenwood or other members, bass from Colin Greenwood and without any vocal editing. Despite the differences between studio and live, live version usually maintain the melody from the album version (in fact, the melody on the version is the album version's reversed).

The song was first performed live on August 8th, at the Blossom Music Center in Cleveland (Indeed, this is the version found on I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings). [ [ Radiohead At Ease [In Rainbows ] ] [ [ radiohead discography ] ]

Music Video

A video was commissioned for this song, along with Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors, as a promo. It was directed by Johnny Hardstaff and Black Dog Films. It features 3D computer graphics of complex machinery and diagrams, and culminates with two Siamese twins's chests being ripped apart. [ [ YouTube - Push Pulk / Spinning Plates (better quality) ] ] [ [ radiohead videos ] ]


The lyrics, "I'm living in cloud-cuckoo-land" reference the saying Cloud cuckoo land, originally taken from the Greek play The Birds, written by Aristophanes.

Hidden Booklet

The hidden booklet found underneath the CD tray of Kid A has a page that references the above lyrics, "Cloud cuckoo land".


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