In Radiohead

12 Radiohead’s song titles, illustrated.

©Elena Mantovan



#01. Let Down

#02. Lotus Flower

#03. Optimistic

#04. How To Disappear Completely

#05. Myxomatosis

#06. Stop Whispering

#07. We Suck Young Blood

#08. Fitter Happier

#09. Bullet Proof (I Wish I Was)

#10. Street Spirit (Fade Out)

#11. Anyone Can Play Guitar

#12. Where I End And You Begin


01. In 2013 I started drawing and painting, self-taught. One of my first subjects was a Brandon Boyd pic: the posture, the way he kept his hand on his face, his clothes, everything inspired me. Then, thinking of a title fot the artwork, a Radiohead’s title came to my mind. “Let Down”, I thought it fitted.

Two years later (and a lot of drawings, paintings and stuff later), that so-called “Let Down” piece made me think about other titles and about visualizations, free associations of images, ideas and concepts flowing in my mind, sometimes meaningless or hard to explain.

Every piece is pencil on paper, background in watercolor.

02. For “Lotus Flower”, I couldn’t help thinking of the video, of the bowler hat and of Thom’s hands moving all around.

03. Optimistic is the way I’m always trying to live my life, despite everything. It’s something about looking fot the good inside the bad, but also about courage and control, risk, detachment from results, hope, faith, freedom, will, dreams and desire.

“Man of the air…limits exist only in the mind of people who are not able to dream”_ Philippe Petit

04. “How to disappear completely” reminded me of a dinner I had with a friend of mine. They invited us and we went even if we didn’t feel like. Everyone was enjoying, laughing and having a good time for things we simply didn’t fit in. And we passed from something like “what the hell am I doing here? I don’t belong here” to “I’m not here, this is not happening”, hoping to get superpowers and disappear.

05. “Mixomatosis” is a disease that affects rabbits. Frank the bunny, in Donnie Darko, was a very diseased one.

06. The words “Stop Whispering” made me think of someone who was yelling, angry, at a passive and shy person. In that moment I was listening to Bjork.

07. “We Suck Young Blood”, vampires, of course. And those in Jim Jarmusch’s “Only Lovers Left Alive” are my favourite and loved ones.

08. With “Fitter Happier”, I had in mind the synthetic, mechanical, frozen voice of the song, and the image of a meditating man behind bars came to my mind. Rules and rules, and bars to be happier.

09. For “Bullet Proof (I Wish I Was)” I imagined Neo stopping bullets in Matrix. But in the end I thought it was not Neo who wanted to be bullet proof, but the agent.

10. If I try not to think of the lyrics and the amazing video of “Street Spirit (Fade Out)”, what I see is an old wise man living in the street, homeless, roaming. The spirit of the street, that lives in it, that has seen it all, that nobody cares for, and that slowly disappear, unseen.

11. I chose drawing Dave Grohl at the drums for “Anyone Can Play Guitar”: I remembered a talk with a friend of mine, I was asking him if he listened to the new Foo Fighters album, and the answer was: “Actually, I don’t like Foo Fighters so much. Because one of the best drummer in the world is in a band where he sings and plays guitar.” That friend of mine is a drummer, by the way.

12. “Where I End And You Begin” is a quite sad song. But the words in the title make me think of a place, the place where Love starts, a little dot in the space between two souls that can be filled only with Love, to create a connection of unity, understanding, exchange and growth. And this is where I end my project, and you begin seeing it.


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