Interpretation of Paranoid Android

Paranoid Android – my personal interpretation.

To me one of the most intriguing songs is Paranoid Android by Radiohead. Because of its complicated and diverse musical structures and texts on the one hand, and on the other hand because I feel that it makes sense on a very profound level. To be honest, I never had the feeling to truly understand the song. But today I think that I may have found an explanation which to me makes sense. However, before I can start, I need to put this song into the context of the album OK Computer as a whole. To me this album describes the struggles of modern day man in a digitalized society. How can he be in touch with his emotions, body, mind and spirit in these times full of ego bloated social madia, an overflow of information and a continuous demand for attention?

Please could you stop the noise, I’m trying to get some rest,
from all the unborn chicken voices in my head.
What’s that…?
(I may be paranoid, but not an android)
What’s that…?
(I may be paranoid, but not an android)

To me this song describes the start pf a spiritual awakening process (maybe even Thom Yorke’s one). A person slowly getting crazy of the chicken voices in his head (media? uncontrollable thoughts? unprocessed emotions?). He then becomes conscious and asks: ‘what’s that [in my head]’? And a robotic voice states: ‘I may be paranoid, but I am no android.’ This first start of becoming conscious and awake which is accurately shaped by the robotic voice.

When I am king, you will be first against the wall,
with your opinion which is of no consequence at all

Here arises the first twist of this song. What the narrator mentions here is nothing short of pure aggression and anger. What is this all about? Where does this anger come from? Could the narrator be his Higher Self talking to his Ego?

Ambition makes you look pretty ugly,
Kicking and squealing gucci little piggy.

The conversation continues. The Higher Self blames his Ego to be a shallow and materialistic pig.

You don’t remember!
You don’t remember!
Why don’t you remember my name?
Off with his head, man!
Off with his head, man!
Why don’t you remember my name?
I guess he does…

The twist continues on a higher level. Interestingly, the Higher Self blames the Ego not to remember its true cause by not remembering its true name. Remembering your Higher Self is very high regarded in many mystical traditions. So his head, the logical reasoning of the Ego, must come off. In Medieval alchemy the severing of the head of the king was a phase of purification. The statement ‘I guess he does…’ indicates that indeed the cutting off the head has resulted in a change. At this moment in the song a massive guitar solo bursts loose as if to indicate that the souls is indeed going through some severe purification processes. Sizzling and shouting the Ego seems to die.

Rain down, rain down,
Come on rain down on me.
From a great height
From a great height…
height…
Rain down, rain down
Come on rain down on me
From a great height
From a great height…
height…
Rain down, rain down
Come on rain down on me

Suddenly, in a second twist all falls silent. It is a heavenly break with angelic singing. It is as if the higher Self, now loose from the weight of the Ego, is received in Heaven. Here it receives from a great high, maybe the greatest high, Gods heavenly manna, his Blessing. This is a mystical experience of the soul. An experience of Pure Love. So strange, and yet so familiar. It feels like coming home.

That’s it, sir
You’re leaving.
The crackle of pigskin.
The dust and the screaming.
The yuppies networking.
The panic, the vomit.
The panic, the vomit.
God loves his children,
God loves his children,
Yeah.

While still in this heavenly sphere, a second voice starts to sing. It is a resolution of the Higher Self or maybe even an instruction of an Angel of sorts. That’s it, sir. You’re leaving. The crackle of pigskin. This soul has resolved not to return to his Ego but still to face the ‘panic and the vomit’ of the profane earth.

With this last statement the soul returns to the earth plane. Here musically the war continues with heavy guitars. Back on earth again the Higher Self and the Ego are in battle. There is one change however: the Higher Self is determined to destroy its Ego, because it has received the mystery of the Love of God from Heaven. God loves his children so much that he gives everyone of us the privilege to enlighten ourselves.

To me, the reason why this song is such a masterpiece is that it not only realistically describes the spiritual struggle of modern man. More than only that, it also provides a deep clue to regain our spirituality in a modern world.

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