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
Thom premiered the song on november 1st 1993 on the Canadian TV program 'Musique Plus'. At this point the song was titled 'Three-Headed Street Spirit' and the "Immerse Your Soul In Love" ending had yet to be written:

Thom said that the song was inspired by The Famished Road by Ben Okri. In that book there is a three-headed spirit that leads the main character down a road, so that's apparently where the title came from.
The song was included on this august 1994 work-in-progress tape compilation under the working title '(Fade Out)'. The handwriting is Thom's. Since a note like "rough" or "not finished" is not written next to the title, the cassette appears to contain the finished version:

Jonathan Glazer had been in contact with the band for a while, expressing his interest in producing the video if the song ever became a single.
Until 'Paranoid Android', this was the band's best-placed chart entry.
Phil: Ed's guitar playing on this track is exceptional and without equal.
Ed: Jonny's favourite I think. No other way to finish the album but with this one.
Jonny: Our madrigal as written by Dowland and arranged by Scott Walker. My favourite song, like the last song on 'Pablo Honey' was.
Colin: Personal fave on a record of 'faves'. What do you mean there's no tower of feedback/distorted guitars etc.etc.??!!
Thom: Really not sure where this cam from. I would like it to be a Christmas single, because I like Christmas so much.
Thom: "It was written around the time of My Iron Lung and was one of those songs that completely wrote itself. It was all coming out of this one riff. I love stuff like Stereolab where they repeat riffs over and over again."
"'Street Spirit' is our purest song, but I didn't write it.... It wrote itself. We were just its messengers... Its biological catylysts. It's core is a complete mystery to me... and (pause) you know, I wouldn't ever try to write something that hopeless... All of our saddest songs have somewhere in them at least a glimmer of resolve... 'Street Spirit' has no resolve... It is the dark tunnel without the light at the end. It represents all tragic emotion that is so hurtful that the sound of that melody is its only definition. We all have a way of dealing with that song... It's called detachment... Especially me.. I detach my emotional radar from that song, or I couldn't play it... I'd crack. I'd break down on stage.. that's why its lyrics are just a bunch of mini-stories or visual images as opposed to a cohesive explanation of its meaning... I used images set to the music that I thought would convey the emotional entirety of the lyric and music working together... That's what's meant by 'all these things are one to swallow whole'.. I meant the emotional entirety, because I didn't have it in me to articulate the emotion... (pause) I'd crack.... Our fans are braver than I to let that song penetrate them, or Maybe they don't realize what they're listening to.. They don't realize that 'Street Spirit' is about staring the fucking devil right in the eyes... and knowing, no matter what the hell you do, he'll get the last laugh...and it's real...and true. The devil really will get the last laugh in all cases without exception, and if I let myself think about that too long, I'd crack. I can't believe we have fans that can deal emotionally with that song... That's why I'm convinced that they don't know what it's about. It's why we play it towards the end of our sets. It drains me, and it shakes me, and hurts like hell everytime I play it, looking out at thousands of people cheering and smiling, oblivious to the tragedy of it's meaning, like when you're going to have your dog put down and it's wagging it's tail on the way there. That's what they all look like, and it breaks my heart.

I wish that song hadn't picked us as its catalysts, and so I don't claim it. It asks too much. (very long pause). I didn't write that song."
Q: "The recording of The Bends - was that the first time you felt you'd actually hit upon Radiohead's ideal sound?"

Thom: "No, it was more the usual 'No, I'm hitting a brick wall' scenario all the way through the recording." (laughs)

Q: "But there must have been cathartic moments when all the struggles finally made sense?"

Thom: "Oh yes, definitely. I'II never forget the moment we captured 'Street Spirit'. That stands out for me. The whole reason to be doing this is to arrive at those moments. It makes it worth all the scratching around for months on end in note-books and all the hundreds of thousands of ideas you compile on endless tapes. It's the sole reason you spend your entire life in your bedroom playing to yourself. If I ever forget why I started this as a career, than that's why I started. I do remember the magic moments from The Bends.. The 'Street Spirit' moment I remember very, very well. We spent a day going round in circles until I was thinking, 'This is never going to happen'. Then suddenly something happened and I was transported to a place that I'd been willing myself to be in for months on end. I'd finally made the transition. Now you might only be in that place for three minutes and for ever more life'll never be quite as good. But that's fine by me."
The song 'Street Spirit' from The Bends was completely influenced by Ben Okri's book The Famished Road, which I read on tour in America; and also by REM - it was just a straight rip-off, you know. I've ripped them off left, right and centre for years and years and years and years.
"I like the fact that The Bends was so direct, but it [required] a lot of aborted versions and starting over. For 'Street Spirit (Fade Out)', we were bashing our heads against the wall for days and not getting anywhere. We had countless versions that didn't make sense. I was being impatient."
Live performances #366 and #367 during the making of The King of Limbs:
366. january 24th 2010 The Music Box Theatre at The Fonda Los Angeles, CA USA Link
367. june 25th 2010 Glastonbury Festival Pilton UK Link
Live performances #368 to #375 during the touring for The King of Limbs:
368. june 28th 2011 Glastonbury Festival Pilton UK Link
  The Bends 09/'11 02/'12 march 2012 april 2012 05/'12 june 2012
Planet Telex [3] 11 12 17
Street Spirit (Fade Out) [7] 28 29 01 13 17 10 15
Live performances #376 to #383 during the touring for The King of Limbs:
  The Bends july 2012 september 2012 october 2012 november 2012
Talk Show Host [2] 25 27
Planet Telex [13] 25 29 22 23 25 26 29 06 09 12 16 12 17
Street Spirit (Fade Out) [8] 11 15 26 09 11 16 09 13