Main Index Pablo Honey The Bends OK Computer Kid A Amnesiac Hail to the Thief In Rainbows The King of Limbs A Moon Shaped Pool Thom Yorke Jonny Greenwood Ed O'Brien Colin Greenwood Philip Selway
An early draft of lyrics can be seen in this page of radiohead.com from the OK Computer period:
i swallow glass
a dream palace in the sun for stressed out executives
there are spies
pinhole cameras in every room

everybody wants a piece of windowpane
everybody wants a piece of broken glass
everybody wants a shattered piece of the windows/splinters
to show their friends
to take home with them
and watch the light turning into windows

a strange mistake to make
turn the other cheek
the sirens in the sea
i
swallow glass

uniforms
with your name on (the side of the can)
never a dull moment
he's in charge (personnel)
freezeframed inert wandering bumping into things




well
well ofcourse id love to sit and chat
well ofcourse ide love to stay and chew the fat
well ofcourse ide love to stay and chat
but theres someone listening in
This page, titled 'stuck in a frozen lake', appeared in radiohead.com during the recording of OK Computer and features a text by Thom with notes about songs that were around then. The title phrase of 'Life In A Glasshouse' appears in the entry for 'Karma Police, suggesting that the song might have been attempted during the sessions for OK Computer, and that in terms of its theme it could be related to 'Karma Police'.
The relevant section was not highlighted in red letters in the original page:

an airbag saved my life* in an interstella burst i am back to save the universe computer drums bass wrong lift* is hard work you been stuck in a lift we been trying to reach you thom the belly of the whale (thanks Rei xxxx) paranoid android* get busy with the shakers while im fast asleep could you stop the noise im trying ta get some rest this the place it wont hurt ever again karma police* girl with hitler hairdo everybodys friend life in a glasshouse phew for a minute there i lost myself i lost myself sit down your safe now polyethelene*will never break down swirly self announcements. stuck in a frozen lake. the penultimate place in dante's hell. last flowers till the hospital*is a sign discovered in oxford -my unhealthy obsession with these institutions. analysts may get the connection. ambulances scream past my house at all hours of the day and night like the confessionals of Larkin's "Ambulan s." let down*in the midst of monster tour the momentum getting drunk to talk bombarded by dangerously high levels of radiation from xray machines. one day, one day... climbing up the walls*both managers and record company are nervous about such a nasty sound coming out of the speakers. this is a good sign. dogwander* bring on another take better than another cake. nude* it is a mans world. and this one is very confused and will have sex with anything woman who comes within a mile radius. but feels bad about it. so doesnt. exit song (for a film)* cannot be listened to more than once in a row. which made recording it easy. or not. but what film? big boots* it was a long time ago and i cant remember. a whole orchestra watching the film and playing along. real life is dull. i am i the white lotus flying off the quay with barbara bach.
(information incomplete)
....>>>>i like the idea of you listening to our recordings with your head resting gently in emptiness. or before going out. or when you've come back. i dont like the scientists breaking down its molecular structure and teaching it in O level chemistry i ont want to have expain it but it worries me stupid. there is a lot of crying goes into making things.<<<<.... the masters tell us that there is an aspect of our minds that is its fundamental basis, a state called "the ground of the ordinary mind." It functions like a storehouse, in which the imprints of past actions caused by our negative emotions are all store like seeds. when the right conditions arise, they germinate and manifest as circumstances and situations in our lives. if we have a habit of thinking in a particular pattern, positive or negative, then these tendencies will be triggered and provoked very easily and recurr and go on recurring. With constant repetition our inclinations and habits become steadily more entr ched and continue, increasing and gathering power even when we sleep. This is how they come to determine our life, our death our rebirth.
Thom is handed his black acoustic guitar, and he begins to play a quite exquisite song that lies somewhere between 'Exit Music' and 'Climbing Up The Walls'. "Once again", he sings, "I'm in trouble with my only friend/She's been smashing up my house again...living in a glass house."

His two trademark elements are in place: dreamlike fragility, along with the ability to evoke all kinds of images while using alarmingly straightforward vocabulary. And then his normal voice cuts through the music again, still Jagger-esque, but conveying an altogether more positive sentiment than before. "Fuck me!" says Thom Yorke. "That's nice. Can we tape that?"

Phil Selway - the drummer who unerringly adopts the clenched posture of a man operating highly complex machinery - has started playing behind him, dispensing a clattering, pared-down rhythm apparently pulled from the sky. As requested, it gets recorded - to be listened to, looped, and played back in the bus-based studio.

Then enacting what turns out to be a daily ritual, each of the members of Radiohead cagily add their signatures to the song. Colin Greenwood goes first. Then comes Ed O'Brien, picking his way away Thom's guitar in the manner of someone else's flower beds. Jonny Greenwood joins in last, playing in equally hesitant fashion. The song stops, starts and eddies along for the best part of ten minutes.

"It's sort of called 'Life In A Glass House', I think," Thom says the following day. "Bits of it have been kicking around for a while. It's not really done at all. But we won't finish it on the road. You can't. When you're at a soundcheck, you've got people watching you, and you can't really do what you want. It doesn't work."

The 'studio', it transpires, is actually an extremely expensive stack of hardware, connected to a pair of headphones, that the group use to store work in progress and tutor themselves in the art of programming. It will not be used to record the follow-up to 'OK Computer', for reasons that are entirely understandable.
Q: "How many new songs have you written since OK Computer?"

Jonny: "About eight or nine Maybe. 'Life In A Glass House' is one of those. I don't know how to do it, though. It could end up sounding like a bad Cure song, or it could end up sounding brilliant. It's difficult to tell."
In a recent interview on Australian radio station Triple J, guitarist Ed O'Brien compared the album to the band's 1995's The Bends. Several of the album's songs were recorded during the Kid A sessions. And while a full track listing has not been confirmed, a song titled 'Po Pad' will be the album's first song. 'Pyramid Song (a.k.a. Egyptian Song)' and 'Living in a Glass House', two songs that the band had played earlier this year, will also be included on the album. The latter features a special guest appearance by British jazz writer and musician Humphrey Lyttleton.
Brit jazz veteran Humphrey Lyttleton helps out on new album's free-form epic. Eight months ago, Radiohead were in the midst of the lengthy recording sessions that preceded Kid A. However, one track in particular - a predictably free-form, experimental number called Living In A Glass House - was proving tricky to complete. Unable to find a solution, guitarist Jonny Greenwood sat down and wrote a letter to the man he believed could help them out: Humphrey Lyttleton, septuagenarian jazz trumpeter and presenter of Radio 4's long-running panel show I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue. "It's probably an awful cheek and we're sure you're very busy," read Greenwood's suitably deferential missive, "but we're a bit stuck." Such politeness paid off and with Lyttleton's help 'Living In A Glass House' was eventually completed last summer. It's now set for release on Kid A's successor, Amnesiac, due for release on 4 June. "It's wild", says Lyttleton, sat in the dimly-lit back room of the Bull's Head, the Barnes pub where he and his band have enjoyed a 20-year residency. "It starts with me doing a sort of ad-libbed, bluesy, minor key meandering, then it gradually gets so that we're sort of playing real wild, primitive, New Orleans blues stuff." He lifts his trumpet and gives Q a short blast by way of explanation. "Skronnnk!"

Inevitably, Lyttleton, who during the 1950s was at the forefront of the trad jazz movement in Britain, had never heard of Radiohead before their collaboration. After borrowing OK Computer from his daughter and a brief meeting with Greenwood, the trumpet master and his usual quintet joined the rest of the band in a recording studio in Bayswater. "People had said that they were all crazy but in fact we had a good time", he says. But it took a while for both parties to get familiarized. "Nobody knew what anybody was going to do!" says Lyttleton. "They didn't want it to sound like a slick studio production but a slightly exploratory thing of people playing as if they didn't have it all planned out in advance. However, I detected some sort of eye-rolling at the start of the session, as if to say we were miles apart. They went through quite a few nervous breakdowns during the course of it all, just through trying to explain to us all what they wanted. Thom Yorke's behaviour was especially curious. "Thom was doing his vocals and he'd have vanished from view altogether", says Lyttleton. "He'd be sitting cross-legged in some sort of meditative posture at the bottom of the vocal booth."

The session lasted seven hours, leaving Lyttleton exhausted. "My chops were getting in a very ragged state," he says. "So when we finally got a take that sounded good to me, they said, 'Good, we'll go and have some food, then we'll come back and do some more'. I said, 'Not me'. It was a very heavy day."

Yorke recently described Amnesiac as "the sound of what it feels like to be standing in the fire". The album was recorded at the same time as Kid A but, according to the singer, "it comes from a different place" and is reputed to be more accessible than its predecessor. But if 'Living In A Glass House' is anything to go by, Yorke's lyrics May still be of the lemon sucking variety. "The words are very surreal, rather like Procul Harem's 'Whiter Shade Of Pale'", says Lyttleton, who received a letter of thanks from the band. "I wouldn't compare them, because I think Thom's are slightly better, but they're coming from the same sort of area."
Q: "The words this time around: you don't hear so many of them."

Thom: "Oh really! Fuck! I thought I was being really clear."

Q: "Certain lines are clear, others aren't. It gives the music an added mystery."

Thom: "That's funny because the mystery is not intended. On 'Life In A Glasshouse' I'm desperate for people to understand all the words because they're really important. It began after I read this interview with the wife of a very famous actor who the tabloids completely hounded for three months like dogs from hell. She got the copies of the papers with her picture and she posted them up all over the house, over all the windows so that all the cameras that were outside on her lawn only had their own images to photograph. I thought that was brilliant, and that's where the song started from. It was just a really sad, awful story about her desperately trying to cope while he's off filming, and the only reason she was being hounded was becouse it was rumoured he was having an affair with his leading actress. I just thought, 'Nobody deserves this'. Especially when they're a completely innocent party. From there, it developed into a complete rant about tabloid journalism destroying people at will, tying people to the stake and watching them burn - an activity that seems to be particularly rife in this country. It's funny.... This is the longest we've actually spent in Britain since we were all about 21. For the past three years, we've been here most of the time. To be honest, it's all been a bit of a shock." [bursts out laughing]
Jonny: "I guess that, well, we realised that we couldn't play jazz. You know, we've always been a band of great ambition with limited playing abilities. So the final product you get to when you work under those expressive parameters, with those creative concepts, is something I quite like. In that sense, our main inspiration has been Miles Davis and Bitches Brew, how he and his band are capable of filling up the recording with sound from beginning to end... oh god! Now that felt sort of awkward... if a Miles Davis fan hears me talk about him that way he might get really mad at me. He'd be entitled to really. Don't get me wrong, I have too much respect for Miles Davis. None of us plays trumpet or sax very well, we're definitely not skilled instrumentalists. What we take from these records are things that other people May overlook, Maybe things they don't feel that passionate about. Like the chaos in those records which is fantastic... an amazing thing. And with Charles Mingus it's utter chaos all the same, the things happening in their music and the way they happen... This kind of music that's supposed to be, somehow classical, calmed... I don't know, when you're younger, you grow up picturing the image of big bands like Glenn Miller's, and when you listen to Mingus he makes you change your perception of jazz. So jazz is a grand thing, but we're not trying to play jazz in these songs [my question refers to 'The National Anthem' and 'Life In A Glasshouse basically] but if we were we'd call 'real' musicians to help us out."
And 'Life In A Glasshouse', the album's finale, can be very hard going indeed, at least to begin with. Imagine Thom Yorke singing at a New Orleans funeral serenaded by Humphrey Lyttelton and a similarly grizzled-looking horn-playing chum of his who - according to Jonny Greenwood - had been let out of hospital, after undergoing open-heart surgery, the day before the session.
Question from Paul: "Was it interesting working with Radiohead?"

Humphrey Lyttelton: "Yes Paul - it was very interesting indeed. When they asked me to bring some members of my band along and do something with them for their new CD, I had to ask my daughter who they were. I then met up with Jonny Greenwood and heard a tape of their music. And if you'll pardon the expression, I thought to myself, "What the Hell?" - this is a kind of music new to me and it presented a challenge. In the process I got to appreciate their music and I think they got to appreciate mine and I think that can't be bad."
Asked about the live version from Later... with Jools Holland:

Colin: "Oh, brilliant! It's like, we did that BBC2 thing, didn't we? And it was live. And it was like every boy's dream to be on that public broadcast thing in this country. And it was just amazing, with Humphrey Littleton and all these amazing players, and it was just a privilege to be there with them."
The earliest available recording of this song comes from the soundcheck at the Vox Club in Nonantola, Italy on october 29th 1997. Three run-throughs have been captured by the taper:



Another soundcheck from november 3rd 1997 in Berlin appeared in Meeting People Is Easy. Thom plays the song acoustically, with Jonny joining in on Fender Rhodes. The recording is obstructed by an interview with Colin, which was reduced as much as possible by eliminating the center of the stereo signal. Following this there's also another clip of the full band working on the arrangement:



The following piece of text comes from a page from the Kid A era version of radiohead.com, titled 'somepeoplelikeweatchingothersskwirm'. The second and third paragraph were repeated many times in that page, and the whole of it was presented as one massive continuous text without any paragraphs. But here it is simplified by omitting the repetitions for the sake of readability and better overview. The third paragraph has much in common with the text from radiohead.com that is posted at the top of this page:

get in lift joking with people in lobby, lift is very broken ha ha. i go up to five, it misses and plummets back down. just as i realize what is happening i get free and catch the side as we fall.

she is smashing up the house again she is papering the window panes she is putting on a smile once again packed like frozen food and battery hens think of all the starving millions better eat up all your greens living in a glasshouse once again pinhole cameras in every room thats a strange mistake to make living in a glass house you should turn the other cheek living in a glasshouse once again we are hungry for a lynching you are part of the distraction dont throow stones and dont talk politics your royal highnesses. diplmatic answers to diplomatic questions dont throw stones and dont get in a tiz your royal highnesses. cctv in every room zooom lng lense in the trees the walls have electronic ears drwn the witches in the river burn the heretics they are going through your shit throwing flowers at the herse stop the traffic motorcade police escort we move n a higher plane the blody power of kings

you have such an aura dahling the snide remarks of the middle class r yor too stupid to tell the difference you are a depressive you are part of a genetic experiment you are a muurderer a serial killer you a re a depressive you are being optimistic you are being very negative. rummage through the rubbish fro something they can sell to the newspapers well of course id like to sit around and chat well ofcourse id like to sit here and chew the fat but theres someone breaking in the quiet blue gas flames gently hissing the fingers of my heart who is going to forgive me? not the shadows that follow(only) the damned not the parents of the deceased close friends or relations im a white mouse, pink nose, pink eyes hungry for food. trapped in a cage. your royal highness living in glasshouse. nosey parkers sniffing round satellite dishes zoomlonglenses dont talk politics and dont talk back living in a glasshouse i swallow glass in the eye of the tornadoe cezarian a dream palace in the sun for stressed executives there are spies pinhole cameras in every room think nice th\oughts living in a glasshouse everybody wants a piece of window pane everybody wants a piece of broken glass everybody wants a shattered piece of the windows to show their frineds to take it home with them and watch the light turning into rainbows. a strange mistake to make turn the other cheek and the sirens in the sea i swallow glass cross my heart and hope to die the opportunity of a lifetime never a dull moment living in a glasshouse dont throw stones living in a glasshouse freezeframed inert and wandering bumping into things well ofcourse id love to sit around and chat well ofcourse id love to stay and chew the fat well of course id love to sit around and chat but theres someone listening in. eat up all your food think of the starving millions such a terrible w.a.s.t.e. living in a glasshouse. no questions are allowed. we are run to make you richer huurling further into hell living in a glasshouse. lock yoou in until you have cleaned the house the sun says keep gays out of government iam sick of fucking mind games i am sick of getting blamed sky says its what you have been missing in your life liv ing in a glasshouse., a hall of mirrors see reflections amillion times projections none of them are right shattered splintered mirrors reflecting nothing right. this is the opportunity of a lifetime. i can find always distractions. hung by the mob now yor yesterdays news everywich fulfilld living in a glasshouse think nice thoughts living in a glasshouse once again do we have to go through this again? we are not impressed lliving in a glasshouse unforgiving and pencil sharp well at least you look the part starta new life on a condo on the moon slaveships across the universe packed like battery hens and frozen food. propogandas very cheaP living in aglasshouse.
Excerpts from the above text can be found in the hidden Kid A booklet [click to enlarge]:
Excerpts of the lyrics appeared in the Kid A era version of radiohead.com in a page titled 'no long complicated words':


Then surround yourself
with sycophants
, your
Royal
Highnesses
.


This page was titled 'constricting wallet':



then surround yourself
with sycophants
, your
Royal
Highnesses





things aren't
so bad.
give them the benefit of the doubt.
i am an optimist.
when I looked into the mirror I found I
had turned into a




often lose
my train of thought
when am above me observing me
going
through my
life.


:
please remove
This song was played live only once, the main reason obviously being its arrangement. The band never rearranged the song for a full band performance, so this recording from the 'Later... with Jools Holland' Radiohead special from june 9th 2001 probably captures the only live performance ever of this song:

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A "full length version" of 'Life in a Glasshouse' was released as a b-side on the Knives Out single on august 6th 2001.