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
Three pages from the late 1999/early 2000 version of radiohead.com featured lines that seem to be part of a set of lyrics, that was already more developed than the one posted above. Each of them appeared in two designs.

This here was titled 'packed nightclub':


Dance you fucker. Don't look in the mirror at the face you don't recognise.
Let me back. I made a big mistake.
No time to say goodbye . What gives you the
right what
gives you the right gives you the right gives you the right gives you the right gives you the right gives you the right gives you the right
dance you FUCKER





Dance you fucker. Don't look in the mirror at the face you don't recognise.
Let me back. I made a big mistake.
No time to say goodbye . What gives you the
right what
gives you the right gives you the right gives you the right gives you the right gives you the right gives you the right gives you the right
dance you FUCKER


A second one was called 'bad credit rating':


This is the house of the stars! Have a look
have a laugh. Enjoy yourselves.
Step up , get the gunge get the eggs get the flan inner face dance you fucker
are you on the list are you on the list
in the head in the neck
your credit cards takes








This is the house of the stars!
Have a look
have a
laugh. Enjoy yourselves.
Step up
, get the gunge get the eggs get the flan inner face dance you fucker

are you on the list are you on the list

in the head in the neck your credit cards takes





The third was titled "byebye byebye byebye":


sure you don't wanna hear
no time to make your peace
i want to start again
i want to start again
take it with a pinch of salt
let me show you round my home

and i wont forgive you won't




sure you don't wanna hear
no time to make your peace i want to start again
i want to start again

take it with a pinch of salt

let me show you round my home


and i wont forgive you won't

Q: "So presumably you were a well-behaved student, if only out of embarrassment?"

Thom: "If I was going to throw up I did it in the privacy of my own room. It was the same in Oxford seeing these fuckers walking around in their ball gowns, throwing up on the streets, being obnoxious to the population. The little guys in the bowler hats will clear up their puke and make their beds for them every night. They don't know they're born and they're going to run the country. It's scary. Of all the towns in the country it's one of the most obvious examples of a class divide."
Thom: "It was quite weird. That song's been kicking around for a while and I not really thought about how violent the images were for ages, until we came to trying to put the record together working out where it went. And I was also typing up the words for Stanley. And suddenly I was like 'wow, this is pretty bitter stuff'. You know, all the stuff about 'cold wives and mistresses, cold wives and sunday papers, city boys in first class', all that stuff. I was like 'bloody hell, that's pretty serious'. I guess it's just very, very angry, cause I couldn't help it, really. A good place to put anger in is in music. I think better than a lot of other places. But again, the crazy thing about it is, I'm only able to put the anger in that song, because the melody itself is so sweet, you know. Jonny wrote this really sweet guitar melody. Where the words came from was just... that's just where they came from. I mean, it wasn't... I wasn't even thinking that I was angry. I mean, I was just feeling like I was going a bit mad. So, I'm used to that now, I go through phases like that. But that was a particularly bad one. But you know, we were kind of reluctant to put it on the record for ages, because it was just so... we end every record with a nice sort of ending. But really, this wasn't... the whole atmosphere and where this whole record comes from, is not that. It would have been false to do that. In the record there's a lot of sort of fairy tale, children's story things going on in it. And then that one at the end... again, it's obviously a wolf at the door and so on, but it's kind of the most sort of ordinary life, realistic place in the whole record. And it's sort of like waking you up at the end, really. And waking you up is something really not that pleasant. Rather than waking you up and it's like 'uhh, it's all been a lovely dream'... no, it's all been a nightmare and you need to go and get a glass of water now. You know, that's kind of what it is."
NME: A pretty song, with a sinister monologue over the top of it. 'Hail To The Thief' concludes with this stream of aggrieved mutterings.

Thom: "Well, that's me. The image seems violent, but the music is quite pretty. If you took it out of context it would sound like a children's toy but it made me want to do this rhythm thing in the words..."

Jonny: "It reads like a Grimm's fairy tale..."
Thom: "With this, it was about a rhythm. It was the rhythm that fell inside Johnny's guitar line, which is a really sweet, beautiful melody, and one of the best things he's come up with, you know, I think. It's amazing. And I really sort of… I just had that rhythm, that rhythm infected my head. And what happens a lot with song writing is that a melody or a rhythm or something stays with you like catching a cold. And doesn't go. And during that time what happens is that I can then fit things on to it, it all fits and glues together. Whatever words… Sometimes its crazy cause it can almost be anything. It can be like nonsense, total nonsense. But it's when you get that… if you catch the cold then the nonsense makes sense. If you know what I mean. It's like you're getting beamed it, or whatever, or you're doing an Ouiji board and someone's pushing your hand. That's what it's like. It's not a pleasant experience necessarily. I mean, this was a deeply unpleasant experience, actually writing the words for this track and the state of mind I was in. But what constantly carries it through is the fact that I'm sitting essentially underneath this beautiful melody that Johnny's written. So it's ok, you know. It makes it okay to sort of be in that state of mind. Which is what I use music for a lot of the time. Not all the time, but a lot of the time. And the actual words themselves to me don't hold the same significance as they might do for other people, because it literally is what was in my plastic bag, that carrier bag that I was carrying around that day. If you understand what I mean. That's just what was there. I mean, I walked around for two days, going stark raving mad, which happens sometimes… and with this plastic bag with all these notes in it. And that was the song. 'Bagman', that's what it should be called.
It's kind of blackmail... I was gagged. I had a gagging order served on me. Indirectly, at one point. Over something, which I obviously can't tell you about. But I have to say gagging orders are the most unpleasant legal invention known to man. They are sick. They are bad news… It just amazes me that if one lives in democracy you are still… you can basically be gagged. And when you're gagged, you're gagged. That's it."
Ed: "This was a song we had… we recorded it on the Kid A sessions. But it never sort of... it never happened really, did it. And this is the best… you know, it's one of those… it's an example of a song, that we caught at the moment. It was probably the best version we've ever done of that song. And we recorded it in LA."

Q: "How many versions were there?"

Jonny: "I suppose about three?"

Ed: "Yeah."

Jonny: "Three or four. There was like a Heavy Metal one, a bit like The Darkness."
Yorke had been listening to a CD of ragga freestyling when he flipped open his notebook of collected phraseology and constructed its extraordinary, splenetic rant.

"It's a beautiful song, and then he starts shouting, 'Dance you fucker/Flan in the face'," laughs Jonny. "I mean, fantastic, but what's he on about?"
Colin: "It's one of my favourites, too, and it nearly didn't get on the record. I don't know why. I can't remember. I think it would have been terrible, though. That's the thing, if you spend too long doing things, you don't have a clue do you?"
Q: "Have you deliberately ignored 'A Wolf at the Door'? I played it on the train from England's Bath to Oxford, with the scenery drifting by… perfect."

Thom: "Really? Do you know how close that track was to not being on the record? It's odd that you mention the train from Bath, because I wrote the lyrics on that very same train. I got on the train one night, and because of what I do… Well… If I want some peace and quiet… I, eh… paid my full, eh, ticket, to get up the front…"

Q: "Are you trying to say you travelled first class?"

Thom: "[laughs] Yeah, it's criminally expensive, but I needed some time, some peace and quiet. But what I got was a bunch of rowdy, posh city boys, obviously rich as hell, who were going to some fucking stag party. Thirty of them in first class - and me. These guys had two crates of Stella, a ghettoblaster, and the guy who was getting married was dressed as Elvis. And for three hours, I sat there while they 'enjoyed' themselves. They were awful, aaaaaaahhhhh! And the whole lyric is just about my revenge on them [laughs]."
As suggested by the appearence of all the lyrics above in radiohead.com, the song was around during the sessions for Kid A already, it was even mentioned once in an entry of Ed's Diary, which reveals the working title of the song:
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?


Apparently the band tried three or four different arrangements of the song, with one of them (according to Jonny) sounding like a Heavy Metal track in the vein of The Darkness... 'Keep The Wolf From The Door' was on the list of songs the band worked on in early march 2000 when they set out to finish Kid A, so it must have been a serious contender for the album. But none of the various recordings satisfied the band, and therefore it was confined to "the pile" for the time being and put on the shelf.
On March 8th 2000, Thom posted about an incident where he was physically harrassed by someone in Oxford. Going to the Police proved to be quite useless, and in fact he mentions that something similar had happened before. This otherwise undescribed first incident he refers to was probably one of the major inspirations behind 'A Wolf At The Door'.

<<<8/3/2000>>> got beaten up in the middle of oxford last week by someone who recognised me and saw me as easy target. only bruises so okay didnt go to police tried that once before and was accused of willing it on myself. a bit freaked out.magnets pinned to my body for shock. anyone going to tibetan freedom march in london this weekend? http://www.freetibet.org lots of wierd things happening around me which i am trying not to be concerned about. also much love. am in need of protection. working very fast and very hard. aphex twin used to lie on a sopha hidden and play sandpaper records when he was supporting Bjork in uSA. ...who do you think is gonna support us? whos gonna want to. havent heard new Clinic single yet. just remember john peel was there first. before it got onto........daytime:)

(Thom's radiohead.com diary, march 8th 2000)

In spring 2001, at the time Amnesiac was released,these earliest known lyrics appeared in the 'imaginery prisons' section of radiohead.com. Basically only the lines that would become the chorus survived:




i cant stop my mind from wandering. thats not what i
meant.
thats not what i meant.
tell me what gives you the right?
what gives you the right?
what gives you the right? gives you the right?
i keep the wolf from the door
but he calls me up calls me on the phone
tells me all the ways that hes gonna mess me up steel
all my children if i
don’t pay the ransom well hes gonna come and hes gonna
blow my house down
i keep the wolf from the door but he calls me up calls
me on the
telephone tells me how when your dead
being famous aint gonna help but im sre you dnt wanna
hear any of this stuff
so why dont get up and turn the tape off?
steal all my children steal all my possessions

i keep the wolf from the door but he calls me up
im sure you dont wanna hear any of this stuff so why
dont you just get up and turn the tape off?



In spring 2001, around the time Amnesiac was released, a nearly finished set of lyrics appeared in the 'imaginery prisons' section of radiohead.com. The lyrics were spread over three succeeding pages. They were still missing the 'city boys in first class' section at the end (which would be inspired by an incident on a train journey from Bath to Oxford, see Quotes section for Thom's recollection of the event):




drag him out the window dragging out your dead singing
i miss you
snakes and ladders
flip the lid
out pops the cracker
smacks you in the head knifes you in the neck kicks
you in the teeth
steel toe caps takes all your credit cards
step up get the gunge
get the eggs get the flan in the face the flan in the
face
the flan in
the
face








dance you fucker dance you fucker dont you dare dont
you flan in the face
take it with the love its given take it with a pinch
of salt take it to the taxman
let me back let me back i promise to be good dont look
i-in the mirror
at the
face you dont recognize help me call the doctor put me
inside
put me inside
put me inside
put me inside
put me inside








i keep the wolf from the door but he calls me up calls
me on the phone
tells me all the ways that hes gonna mess me up steal
all my children
if i don’t pay the ransom well im sure you dont wanna
hear any of this stuff.
walking like a giant crane
with my x ray eyes i strip you naked
in a tight little world and are you on the list?
stepford wives who are we to complain?
investments and dealers investments and dealers cold
wives and mistresses.
cold wives and sunday papers.



In spring 2002, the song was reconsidered when rehearsing for Hail To The Thief, and fortunately the band found an approach to it this time.

On July 23rd 2002, 'A Wolf At The Door' was premiered at the second show in Libsoa, Portugal (you find a recording of this performance below). Thom is apprently not sure about the title at this point, as he also refers to it as 'Stepford Wives' prior to this performance. This alternate title can also be seen on the lyric sheet below, which was thrown into the audience at one of the shows from the summer 2002 Iberian Tour:

On March 30th 200, the rough mix of the song leaked and it represents the state of work from February. This version misses Thom's second vocal overdub in the choruses and some guitar overdubs, especially in the instrumental section following the first chorus:



Despite being satisfied with the final recording, the band hesitated to put it on the album, and it nearly didn't make the cut. The main reason, according to Thom, was its dark, realistic and sometimes plain violent imagery in the lyrics, which was seen as somewhat unlike most of the other songs. The solution was to let it end the album, using the lyric's brutal realism as a contrast to the rest of the album, like waking from an often unpleasant dream to the nightmare of reality.
Two lines from the song can be found in the artwork of the Special Edition of Hail To The Thief:

Live performance #53 during the making of The King of Limbs:
53. january 24th 2010 The Music Box Theatre at The Fonda Los Angeles, CA USA Link
'A Wolf at the Door' was not performed during the first half of touring for The King of Limbs, but made a singular appearance, its 54th and so far last, during the second half:
  Hail to the Thief july 2012 september 2012 october 2012 november 2012
The Gloaming [29] 10 11 13 15 25 27 29 20 22 23 25 26 29 30 06 08 09 11 12 14 15 16 18 06 09 12 13 16 17
There there [28] 10 11 13 15 25 27 29 20 22 23 25 26 29 30 06 08 09 11 12 14 15 16 06 09 12 13 16 17
Myxomatosis [25] 11 13 15 27 29 20 22 25 26 29 30 06 08 09 11 12 14 15 18 06 09 12 13 16 17
A Wolf at the Door [1] 14