Saturday, January 26, 2013

Fake Plastic Trees By Radiohead Lyric Review

By JccKeith

It’s lyric review time!  Now normally I would do a more well known and popular song.  I like to review songs that I feel most people anywhere and everywhere have heard.  Radiohead is an English rock band and although some of their songs are popular, not all of them have as much air time on the radio.

I could have done a review of their uber popular song Creep but I like this one better.  I don’t know why that is because I find the video extremely odd and a little creepy.  Here it is so you can see for yourself:

Fake Plastic Trees as written by Thomas Edward Yorke, Edward John O’brien, Colin Charles Greenwood, Jonathan Richard Guy Greenwood, and Philip James Selway:

Her green plastic watering can for
Her fake Chinese rubber plant
In the fake plastic earth

That she bought from a rubber man
In a town full of rubber plans
To get rid of itself

It wears her out, it wears her out
It wears her out, it wears her out

She lives with a broken man
A cracked polystyrene man
Who just crumbles and burns

He used to do surgery
For girls in the eighties
But gravity always wins

And it wears him out, it wears him out
It wears him out, it wears him out

She looks like the real thing
She tastes like the real thing
My fake plastic love

But I can’t help the feeling
I could blow through the ceiling
If I just turn and run

And it wears me out, it wears me out
It wears me out, it wears me out

If I could be who you wanted
If I could be who you wanted all the time

All the time…
All the time…

For anyone who has read any of my previous reviews, you will know that I normally break the song down line by line.  I have even done so for very simple lines in some songs just to be humorous.  This song on the other hand is slightly unique.  For many songs, a line by line analysis is necessary as the overall theme is not so consistent from line to line.

Fake Plastic Trees has very easily understandable lyrics line by line.  The song as a whole has the greater meaning.  I did a little bit of digging to look up varying opinions on the meaning of the song.
Some people felt the song was about how people in general are fake and the world is on its way to destruction.  They see references to people seeking to be more plastic, more fake and the unhappiness this ultimately brings.

Others feel the song is about a plastic surgeon who is unhappily married to a woman who over the years has become more and more fake and plastic.  This surgeon is a broken man.  Still others feel the song is about one guy, the singer, and his unhappy relationship with a woman who is very fake herself and wants him to be something he is not.

Then there are always the few and far between who ignore half the lyrics and say the entire song is about a toy display.  You have Barbie with one of those little fake plastic trees to go with her fake plastic yard for her Barbie Dream House and then there is Ken who is also plastic but is somewhat broken.  And last but not least, there were a couple of really out there political theories.  I have discovered that every song ever written could be interpreted by someone somewhere in some conspiratorial and/or political way.

The clearest and what I believe to be the best interpretation of the song was one that incorporated two different stories.  The first part of the song features a husband and wife.  The wife lives in a very fake environment, which many people today do with the fake plants, fake lawns and somewhat shallow existences.  She is living the façade of a happy life in a town/city full of people living shallow lives. 

We are then told that she is not happy.  She lives with a broken man, her husband.  We find out next that the husband used to be a plastic surgeon in the eighties.  Eventually, after years of repeat customers, since “Gravity always wins,” he got burned out on plastic surgery.  He has now “crumbled.” 

Overall the story of the man and wife could very well be a metaphor for the general state of being for society today.  People are disillusioned as they realize that life isn’t what they thought it would be.  Things are not what they seem. 

The second part of the song is about the singer himself.  He is in a relationship with a woman that seems like it should be the real thing.  She seems like the perfect woman for him and they should be in love.  Deep down, he “can’t help the feeling,” that it is not love.  The relationship is not what it should be but for whatever reason, he can’t or won’t walk away from it.  Part of him knows he could find the real thing, could find love but the rest of him doesn’t want to take the chance and stays in the current relationship.

And that wraps up this lyric review.  

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