Knives Out

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"Knives Out"
Radiohead knivesout.jpg
Single by Radiohead
from the album Amnesiac
Released 5 August 2001
Format CD, 12"
Recorded 10 March 1999 - 17 March 2000[1]
Genre Alternative rock
Length 4:17
Label Parlophone (UK), Capitol (US), Toshiba-EMI (Japan)
Songwriter(s) Radiohead
Producer(s) Nigel Godrich, Radiohead
Radiohead singles chronology
"I Might Be Wrong"
"Knives Out"
"There There"
"I Might Be Wrong"
"Knives Out"
"There There"
Amnesiac track listing

"Knives Out" is a song by English rock band Radiohead. The composition features electric and acoustic guitars, complemented by singer Thom Yorke's vocals. It appears on Radiohead's 2001 album Amnesiac, recorded during the same sessions as the previous album Kid A. It was also released as the second Amnesiac single, receiving more radio airplay than the band's other songs of the period. The song reached number 13 on the UK Singles Chart.[2] It also topped the Canadian Singles Chart for 4 weeks.

Recording history[edit]

The song was developed during the 18-month Kid A and Amnesiac sessions, and is known for having taken 373 days to record.[3] According to Yorke, "We just lost our nerve. It was so straight-ahead. We thought, 'We've gotta put that in the bin, it's too straight.' We couldn't possibly do anything that straight until we'd gone and been completely arse about face with everything else, in order to feel good about doing something straight like that. It took 373 days to be arse-about-face enough to realise it was alright the way it was."

When guitarist Ed O'Brien played "Knives Out" to Johnny Marr (The Smiths), Marr was touched when told that the track was heavily influenced by his former group.

"Knives Out" was later covered by The Flaming Lips, on their 2003 EP, Fight Test EP. The song was also covered by classical pianist Christopher O'Riley on his album True Love Waits, and by jazz pianist/bandleader Brad Mehldau on his album, Day is Done (2006).


Yorke has described the song as being about cannibalism. In one interview he said: "It's partly the idea of the businessman walking out on his wife and kids and never coming back. It's also the thousand yard stare when you look at someone close to you and you know they're gonna die. It's like a shadow over them, or the way they look straight through you. The shine goes out of their eyes."

Music video[edit]

The "Knives Out" music video was directed by Michel Gondry. Gondry was going through a breakup at the time, and expressed his feelings in the video concept, which has Yorke grieving in a hospital room. According to Gondry: "I generally find a good way of communicating to prevent clash, but I had one terrible experience with Radiohead. I showed [Yorke] a storyboard and every single detail: he was completely excited and happy for it – and then, it turned out, they all criticize me for being selfish and putting my own views on it and my own introspection ... It did not go smooth, but if it went smooth, it would be mediocre."[4]


Chart (2001) Peak
Australian Singles Chart[5] 56
Canadian Singles Chart 1
Dutch Top 100 63
French Singles Chart 46
Irish Singles Chart 25
Italian Singles Chart 17
UK Singles Chart 13

Track listing[edit]

  • All tracks written by Radiohead.


  1. ^ "Ed's Diary Archive". Retrieved 2016-01-30. 
  2. ^ "UK Top 40 Chart Archive". Retrieved 2006-10-02. 
  3. ^ Radiohead Press Cuttings -> Q Magazine - October 2000 - By Danny Eccleston Archived 1 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ "Michel Gondry Hearts Himself Some Music Videos, Spike Jonze & Micheal Jackson; Hates Radiohead". The Playlist. 2008-06-26. Retrieved 2017-07-16. 
  5. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988-2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"There You'll Be" by Faith Hill
Canadian number-one single
31 August 2001 (4 weeks)
Succeeded by
"There You'll Be" by Faith Hill