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
During the Kid A period, the phrase "you will not put the world to rights" appeared in a text that was the basis for the lyrics of 'Optimistic'. It appeared on the page below, called 'Little Crocodiles!', which appeared in radiohead.com. This sketch would be edited and restructured to form most of the actual lyrics to 'Optimistic', but it also contains fragments, that would be used in 'Where I End And You Begin' and '2+2=5':

flies are buzzing round my head flies are buzzing round my head picking up every last crumb the big fish eat the little ones the big fish eat the little ones not my problem give me some. not my problem give me some. you can try the best you can try the best you can money for the generals. how could you be so naive? digging deep into your pockets the will of allah the word of god you can try the best you can try the best you can
the best you can is good enough. why dont you stop beating yourself up? this one isnt jesus turn that hippy bullshit off. i find it difficult to be optimistic. id really like to help you but its just not convenient call me back
some other time. burnt spaghetti wires i am an optimist the best you can is good enough this will not save you will not put the world to rights will not solve your
marriage this wont be on sky tv i dont believe you you you mean it the best you can is good this wont tell you what you need to know optimistic foolish
arseholes tell you what you want to know this one drops a payload this wont cure your loneliness this wont bring the disappeared fodder for the animals living on animal farm
you can try the best you can you can try the best yo can the best you can is flies are swarming round my face. flies are swarming round my face. not now man i got problems of my own. howd i ever get into this mess? unless ofcourse youre trying to hide something. the flies buzz around me picking up evry last crumb when will you ever get out of bed? the optimist will drink and drive the really nervous wont survive optimistic auto-suggestion. hello hello made no difference at all nothing has changed at all this is the new cold war same as the cold old war the names have changed the innocent the innocent have been used to thicken the soupy the soupy can be used to feed the troops from tin cans food is food and sex is sex ivehadmy fill i want to defect. dinosaurs roam the earth shot by monks diplomatic answers to diplomatic questions. the murdered will come back to life tthe blind will cut you with a carving knife the evidence is there too see if you turned a blind eye now your not even human whats your real motivation? cnsequences ff your actions. red ants black ants no idea what your doing viruses mutating mind constipation turn that hippy bullshit off. cogs sarcy cogs swrking round
A few lines of early lyrics can be seen at the top of a page from Thom's sketchbook, that appeared in the 'scrapbook' section of radiohead.com:

In the summer of 2002, the lyrics of the second verse were different.

On August 1st 2002, the song was performed in Salamanca, Spain:
(video by Smythe)
On August 7th 2002, the song was performed in Salamanca, Spain:

I'll lay down some tracks
and wait for a train
january has april's showers
and two and two always make up five


This second verse can also be seen in this handwritten lyric sheet, taken from ateaseweb.com:

In September 2002, '2+2=5' was the first song the band recorded at Ocean Way. A short video clip from that day's session can be seen in one of the Radiohead.tv episodes. It consists of the band tuning up and rehearsing, a playback in the control room and the finished mix:

On March 30th 2003, the rough mix of the song was leaked. It represents the state of work from February and it doesn't feature Thom's spoken words in the intro. It also misses some overdubs in the final section:

Thom: "That was quite a funny one, really, in the sense that I can't really remember doing it. It was the first day in the studio. We went to Ocean Way in L.A., which was a... Nigel Godrich, it was his idea, he's the man who operates the faders. And he had worked there with Beck, I went along to see him when he was working with Beck there. I really liked the place and the way the place sounded as well, it was really fat. Anyway, so there we were on the first day, we've plugged all the gear in, and we needed to sort of test, really. And that was it. And we hadn't eaten all morning, and we were all pretty wired. That's about as much as I remember about it. We were sort of doing a track a day, but that one actually only took a couple of hours. And then we kind of didn't really listen to it again until the end of the session. And everybody just thought it was... I mean I was like 'well, that's just throwaway'. But it actually ended up being something, that was really kind of handy, because it was a really good...flipping, sort of like... for us it was just like 'uuuhhhhhhhh'... you know, getting out a lot of frustration, really. There was something about it, that stuck. We really liked it. But our normal [???] selves would have not considered that in the running, really. I don't think realistically. If it hadn't been for the fact, that it was a test. Really would've just thrown it out on the grounds it was too silly.
It was interesting, 'cause the playlisting and the way that record was put together and stuff was... we tried this thing where basically we did like the initial 2 week session. And then we were like in our studio, and the whole record only took 7 weeks to track. And then it was a few weeks to mix after that. But a lot of that time Ed and Phil went away with the tracks and were like trying to piece them together way, way before we'd finished them. Because we sort of really needed to know what we're doing. It seemed like a really good way of finding out. It was actually like 'well, it's gonna roughly look like this'. So we had a pretty good idea how the whole thing was gonna look 3 weeks in. And '2+2' was so obviously a sort of statement of intent, but equally in true Radiohead style totally misleading."

Phil: "Each opening track on an album always seems to be the opposite of the overall atmosphere of the last record. So '2+2', I mean, that really fulfills that for us, I think. And you know, the album is grounded so much more in the performance between the 5 of us this time, then on Kid A and Amnesiac. The fact that you're there, and you're starting up with this guitar just like cranking up at the beginning of it. For us it's a very unselfconscious way of working, and I think that comes across especially in '2+2', really."
NME: A brutal rock song, reminiscent at times of Jeff Buckley's post-'Grace' material. A 'can't you see what's happening in the world?' sort of song.

Thom: "Sort of, but not entirely serious. That song's pretty throwaway, really. It's got guitars in it- we did it in a hurry, because it was a test. Nigel wouldn't let us eat anything until we'd done it. It was four in the afternoon, and we were all starving. I didn't have any of the words, so I had to write them all down quickly."

Jonny: "It was the first thing we recorded, on the first day."

Thom: "It was the most number of syllables I've tried to get into a line, ever: 'Swat 'em like flies but the buggers keep coming back'."

NME: "Tell us about these subtitles."

Thom: "I was having trouble with titles. 'Hail To The Thief' was also called 'The Gloaming' and I wanted to subtitle that, so I decided to carry on. I have this big list that I carry around and they come from there. And from kids' programmes because I was watching a few of those. Mostly Bagpuss. I like Bagpuss."
Colin: "It was the first thing we recorded. You can hear Jonny plugging his guitar in. It was like, 'right here go'. It's brash and colourful and short, like our stay in LA, actually."
Thom: "The lukewarm is something from Dante. If I remember this rightly, it's the least nasty bit of hell, just as you walk through the door there're the 'Lukewarm'. And the lukewarm hang around and they were never really bothered about, they didn't believe in anything particularly. They were like, 'Oh, you know, whatever, there's nothing I can do about it. No, no, no'. And it's quite a curious thing that Dante presents you with. All of a sudden you have these people and you think, 'Well, they haven't really done anything wrong, they just didn't do anything'. And so he judges them and puts them there which, I think, is actually a really good way of explaining '2+2=5'."
Q: "What makes Hail To The Thief easier to embrace?"

Colin: "Well, the first song, '2+2=5', is three and a half minutes long, it's got three strong melodies in it and loud guitar halfway through, a few long choruses and guitar solos - I mean, isn't that what everyone's been saying they wanted from us in the last three years?"
'2+2=5' contains the line 'Go and tell the king that the sky is falling in'. It's from Yorke and his brother Andrew's favourite bedtime story, Chicken Licken. In it, an acorn falls on a bird's head, making it think the sky is coming down and inspiring it to tell the king. En route, the bird attracts a following of concerned poultry. Eventually, a fox says he will show the birds where the king is. He leads them into his den where he and the fox family rip their gizzards out. The end.

"At the end there's just a few feathers and that's it," says Yorke. "Goosey loosey and Drakey lakey get what's coming. I love that idea of there being no intention of a happy ending."

Yorke laughs to himself and it's a sound worth sticking around for; richly nerdy, full of stifled glee.

"And the worst thing is, they don't get to tell the king that the sky is falling in," he says, after recovering. "That could be happening everyday of our lives, the ones with the news are getting knocked on the head."
When asked about the album title 'Hail To The Thief':

Thom: "The phrase is part of '2+2=5', of course, but when I wrote that song I had another, earlier president in mind about whom I had just heard a radio program. He was called a "thief", too. At that time I wasn't aware that something like that had been going on at Bush's election, too. Honestly, I didn't."
Thom: "'2+2=5' is good, but as Nigel says, I wish I had another go at that one. We wanted to do things quickly, and I think the songs suffered. It was part of the experiment. Every record is part of the experiment."
During the Hail To The Thief period, this bit of artwork was used for the startpage of radiohead.com :

  Hail to the Thief may 2016 06/2016 july 2016 august 2016 sept./oct. 2016
2 + 2 = 5 [17] 24 26 28 03 17 02 08 26 29 31 06 08 20 21 11 30 04
The Gloaming [16] 20 23 26 28 01 17 08 27 29 31 04 06 21 11 30 07
There there [17] 20 21 24 26 28 03 17 02 08 27 29 31 04 06 20 30 07
Myxomatosis [6] 26 27 01 26 29 04