A quote from Hermann Hesse's novel 'Siddharta', that is related to the lyrics, appeared in the 'imaginery prisons' section of radiohead.com at the time Amnesiac was released in spring 2001:
all became part of the river. It was the goal of all of them, yearning,
desiring, suffering; and the river's voice was full of longing, full of
smarting woe, full of insatiable desire. The river flowed on towards to
it's goal. Siddartha saw the river hasten, made up of himself and his
relatives and all the people he had ever seen. All the waves and water
hastened, suffering, towards goals, many goals, to the waterfall, to
the sea, to the current, to the ocean and all the goals were reached
and each one was succeeded by another. The water changed to vapour and
rose, became rain and came down again, became spring, brook and river,
changed anew, flowed anew. But the yearning voice had altered. It still
echoed sorrowfully, searchingly but other voices accompanied it, voices
of pleasure and sorrow, good and evil voices, laughing and lamenting
voices, hundreds of voices, thousands of voices............."
The working title of this song was 'Egyptian Song'. Thom premiered it as a slightly different solo piano rendition on june 13th 1999 at the Tibetan Freedom Concert. The most noticable difference are the opening lyrics:
This page appeared in radiohead.com during the Kid A period under the title 'rare':
jumped in the river and what did i see? black-eyed angels swimming with me. a
moon full of stars and astral cars. all the figures i used to see. all my lovers
were there with me. all my past and futures. and we all went to heaven in a
little row boat. there was nothing to fear and nothing to doubt.
there was nothing to fear and nothing to doubt. there was nothing to fear and
nothing to doubt. there was nothing to fear and nothing to doubt.
The song is mentioned in a number of entries from Ed's Diary:
wednesday, december 8th 1999
started by playing 'cuttooth' again - the song needs stamina - sounding better than yesterday....just have to keep playing it. one of those days when it doesn't feel as though we've done much. maybe it's because everyone's tired. there was some protool arranging on 'follow me around' and an attempt to do vocal, piano and drums on 'egyptian song'. was sounding ok. tried playing 'keep the wolf from the door but it's too late and needs thom's rant on it. a bitty day. time to go home. saw only four hours of daylight - how do they cope in scandinavia during these months?
thursday, december 9th 1999
first 'live' performance in front of an audience for exactly (and strangely) a year........it was early morning so it was the 10th. it started with jonny (aka DJ REQUIRED) and thom's dj set and then a last minute executive decision was made to play 'knives out' around the xmas tree. 'amateur hour' will hopefully become a regular night for us - but will be different each time - there will however be ongoing items like phil's puppet show. for those who don't know what i'm going on about - we did a live web broadcast to about 250 people - courtesy of tim bran and those lovely people at the ninja tunes label.
phil and thom also nailed a wonderful version of 'egyptian song' during the day. thom thinks it's the best thing we've committed to tape, ever.
friday, december 10th 1999
still high from the night before. you have no idea how excited we are about this. it's a bit like having our own tv station for three or so hours. there was little/virtually no planning for it, so everything was done on the hoof. so refreshing to do as it seems to take an eternity to get anything done quickly in this business.....and yes it was completely shambolic at times but surely there's nothing wrong with that. i'd love to see more people doing this - can you imagine tony blair and his boys and girls doing a similar thing..........prescott on the wheels of steel: "this one goes out to ken, this is 'going underground'........". 'egyptian song' sounds even better today.
friday, february 4th 2000
what an amazing day. fantastic string arrangements by jonny and what players. many many thanks are due to john lubbock(who conducted and organised) and the string players from the orchestra of st. john's, smith square. the whole session was the complete antithesis to the ok computer experience; firstly rather than de-camping to some london studio we used an old abbey near us with the most fantastic acoustics to record in. i think nigel was totally blown away by the whole sound of it. but most importantly john and the players were so enthusiastic about it all.....jonny has certain things that he wants/wanted to try out that aren't your usual string arrangaments. and rather than dismiss his ideas ( which is what happened on the ok computer session) they were open-minded enough to try them. john lubbock even handed over the conducting reins right at the end for jonny to try out an idea of his. there is no way that he would have been allowed to have done that at the abbey road session. brilliant players and people.
we needed this session after what has seemed an incredibly draining week.
monday, february 21st 2000
all back together again, a week off and our studio tans have faded nicely. everybody seems rested and refreshed for the next five weeks..........nigel wants to get his teeth stuck into mixing, so we decided to set up and record 'cuttooth'. this at eight and a half minutes (by the end) is the long one - did five or six takes of which a couple are pretty good. will review further tomorrow. nigel and jonny are at present getting stuck into going through the various string parts on 'egyptian song'. good to be back.
monday, february 28th 2000
had a funny old meeting last friday..............definitely nursing a hangover from it today.................
nigel was sidetracked last week by 'cuttooth' so he really really wants to do some mixing this week. 'egyptian song' then..........thom plays bass and it sounds pretty much finished. i haven't really been involved in this song so when i hear it i think i'm able to be fairly objective about it.........it has the feel of one of the tracks on the last mark hollis album and it is definitely one of the highlights so far. meanwhile downstairs...................jonny and i are let loose on fucking up phil's drum sound. hours of fun as coz might say. starts off by phil doing some drums on 'kinetic'...................keep getting that ground hogday sensation writing this diary. can't help feeling that this must be an exceptionally boring read except to maybe the diehard muso............
tuesday, february 29th 2000
I froze up upstairs after Nigel has done a good mix of 'Egyptian song'. pick up on 'i will' downstairs.......jonny plays some cool organ on it. trying to do some rhythm stuff on it.
This piece of artwork appeared in the Dead Children Playing book that accompanied the exhibition of artwork that Stanley held at Iguapop Gallery in Barcelona in 2006 (click image for full size):