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Thom has explained in interviews that the major inspiration for this track was a breakdown he had right after Radiohead's gig at the NEC in Birmingham on november 19th 1997.

This page appeared in radiohead.com during the Kid A period under the title 'Fore!'. During this period Thom would usually start forming lyrics to a song by pulling cut up lines out of a top hat, and this following text appears to be a source not only for this song, but also for 'Cuttooth', where the line "I will live a wallpaper life" would end up slightly modified. The text itself was probably written shortly after the NEC incident, as it contains references to Thom's hearing damage that day:


yesterday
i woke upp sucking a lemon evrything in its right place there are two colours in my head what was that you tried to say? hearing damage/evrything in its place. yesterday things just got on top of me but today evrything is in its right place. yesterday i woke up sucking a lemon but today i am the walking fucking cash machine. the caucasian scratching himselfsilly. ihavev foundno miracle cure. i will live a WALLPAPER life!
with evrything is in its right place. yes. nothing but blue skies from now on. no ghosts no skeletons.

you see yesterday i wasnt hearing straight but today everything is in its right place i have learnt the art of self deduction. i take a deep breath and walk away.
from
and everything is in its right place.
who will have the last in line? i am not hearing straight
i cannot be hearing straight

i must completely stone deaf square pegs into round holes anything you want to do he was a good man they said he was a gentleman they said even when life spat in his face he put
everything back in its right place



An excerpt from the text above also appeared in another page called 'of brain':



who will have the last in line?
i am not hearing straight
i cannot be hearing straight
i must be completely stone deaf


square pegs into round holes
anything you want to do


he was a good man they said
he was a gentleman they said
even when life spat in his face
he put everything back
in its right place.

 

Thom: "I had this thing for a while where I was falling through trapdoors all the time, into like, acid flashbacks. I'd be talking to someone and then I'd be falling through the earth, and it went on for months and months, and it was really weird. And that was all happening towards the end of OK Computer. And that was all linked in with death. Seeing people dead, like, as I'm talking to you… It's okay," he says reassuringly, looking at my shocked face. "I'm better now."

Q: "And being lost?"

Thom: "I think there's a lot of not really trusting anybody in being lost. I didn't trust people at all, not even the people closest to me for ages and ages, and that means you really have nothing to hold onto. 'Everything In Its Right Place' is about that. You're trying to fit into the right place and the right box so you can connect."
Q: "Can you remember which song from the new album first crystallized as a song, or Maybe when you were sequencing the record which song you first knew was going to be on the record in a particular place?"

Jonny: "I think the song 'Everything In Its Right Place' was important, because unlike with OK Computer, our last record, we were happy to leave parts of it empty. I think in the past we've been too scared to leave sounds exposed or to have too much space around them. And we've been guilty of layering on top of what's a very good song or a very good sound, and hiding it, camouflaging it in case it's not good enough. And 'Everything In Its Right Place' was one of the very first songs that we actually realized it's great, even if it's so sparse. So that was a very important song. And it also dictated how we sequenced the record, because we knew it had to be the first song, and everything just followed after it."

Colin: "[Nigel] didn't think much of 'Everything In Its Right Place' when he heard it, and he didn't think it was gonna be any good. But then Thom was banging it out on an upright piano, you know. And then he and Thom like stayed up late one night in this big country house we rented out in England and did it on a keyboard. And Nigel like used to do pro tools and scratch the sound waves and made all these mad sounds that no one had done before. And it was amazing."
Q: "'Pyramid Song' and 'Everything In Its Right Place' seem close?"

Thom: "They were both written in the same week - the week I bought a piano (laughs). The chords I'm playing involve lots of black notes. You think you're being really clever playing them but they're really simple. For 'Everything' I programmed my piano playing into a lap-top, but 'Pyramid' sounded better untreated."
Q: "Were you in effect suffering from a form of writer's block?"

Thom: "It wasn't really a writer's block because words were coming out like diarrhoea but they were all awful! And I couldn't tell the difference - which was much worse. But that was because, personally speaking, I'd lost all confidence."

Q: "When and how did it come back?"

Thom: "It came back when we recorded 'The National Anthem'. I really, really love that track. 'Everything In Its Right Place' I really, really love as well.
Radiohead singer Thom Yorke can tell you exactly when and where he hit rock-bottom: November 19th, 1997, the moment he walked offstage after a concert at the NEC Arena in Birmingham, England.

Yorke, guitarist Ed O'Brien, drummer Phil Selway, bassist Colin Greenwood and guitarist Jonny Greenwood, Colin's younger brother, had been touring Europe and America for seven months on behalf of their third album, OK Computer. They had five months to go. But Yorke was already toast -- exhausted by the explosive neurosis of his performances, gagging on the backstage circus of plastic love and promo.

"I came off at the end of that show," he remembers, "sat in the dressing room and couldn't speak. I actually couldn't speak. People were saying, 'You all right?' I knew people were speaking to me. But I couldn't hear them. And I couldn't talk. I'd just so had enough. And I was bored with saying I'd had enough. I was beyond that.

"You can fall very easily into the mind-set of being the victim," admits Yorke, 32, talking over the roar of lunch-hour traffic at an outdoor cafe in Radiohead's hometown of Oxford. "It only takes a few times for you to give into things that you shouldn't have. The easiest thing to do is resent it.

"And I was incredibly good at being the victim. You can abdicate responsibility, f*ck things up whenever you choose and not have to explain yourself."

He then cites a line from "Everything in Its Right Place," the quietly tortured opener of Radiohead's fourth album, Kid A: "Yesterday I woke up sucking a lemon." "Lots of people say that song is gibberish," Yorke says irritably. "It's not. It's totally about that" -- the mute, vengeful paralysis he felt in Birmingham, which stayed with Yorke deep into the strange, simultaneous recording of Radiohead's twin hits, Kid A and the just-released Amnesiac.

In England, Yorke explains, "sucking a lemon" refers to "the face you pull because a lemon is so tart." He twists his sharp features into a ferocious grimace.

"That's the face I had for three years."
"That tour was a year too long. I was the first person to tire of it, then six months later everyone in the band was saying it. Then six months after that, nobody was talking any more. I remember coming off stage after the Birmingham NEC show. I could hear people talking, but I could not speak - and if anybody tried to touch me I think I would have strangled them. That was quite a scary thing. It was like, 'Please can we get the fuck out of here?'"
The lyrics may have roots that go back to november 1997, but the music is certainly younger. Thom said the song was written the same week as 'Pyramid Song', shortly after he got a piano, because playing guitar didn't turn him on anymore. Since 'Pyramid Song' was inspired by a visit to a museum in Copenhagen, 'Everything In Its Right Place' was probably written in spring 1999.

Recording this track was a break-through point in the Kid A sessions. Thom and Nigel worked it out during the sessions in Batsford in early summer 1999. By the time Ed had started his online diary the song must have been more or less finished already. Nonetheless it gets mentioned in a few entries, which supports the assumption that the song still needed some more work:
thursday, july 22nd 1999
thom arrives & plays a new song on the acoustic. sounds great but has no name, so now on referred to as the song with no name. we move on to "lost at sea/in limbo" after only nine months work its starting to sound like its getting somewhere. good in fact. The others sound ok too.( everything, everyone/the national anthem). highlight of the day is attempting 3 part harmonies on "neil young *9"- not the harmonies themselves, but phil cracking up because he feels a bit like that drummer from the eagles. a fucking brilliant rehearsal. its great to be in our band.
tuesday, july 27th 1999
a pretty frustrating day, but now we've been doing this for so long, you realise it can't all be like last week. it starts well with a different version of 'how to dissapear' and 'everything in its right place'. we then get sidetracked by a couple of loose ideas for songs (one is very like the Fall). However we have definitely lost our way with ' you and whose army'- it was sounding great last week, so what happened today? time to go home.
tuesday, september 7th 1999
there seemed to be a lot of breaks today, which often means that we're worrying about something. recording worries over whether the 'canned applause' mobile setup will be ready. management swing by to answer fraught questions and generally alleviate anxieties. oh yes, music is what we're about (easily forgotten sometimes) and 'everything in its right place' sounds good.
wednesday, september 8th 1999
a good and long rehearsal. pick up where we left off on 'everything' and move swiftly on to 'optimistic' - it's blinding - definitely the most formed of the songs to put to tape - it comes from the swamp. the music is interrupted by the new bulletin board on our all-new singing and dancing website. v. exciting. and of course most of the messages posted are concerned with the atrocities in east timor. what's the betting that international forces fail to enter east timor before mass genocide is once again committed. if this sounds flippant - it's not meant to - sorry. back to the music - return to 'up on the ladder' -thom has a new arrangement - start stripping the song apart - already sounding better.
monday, june 26th 2000
athens, greece

arrived this morning to play the first of two gigs in the lycabetus theatre, which is apparently near the parthenon. no site of any greek antiquities as of yet, even from the top floor of the hotel.........this city seems huge and apparently we're situated in what a local described as a kind of no-man's land......lots of traffic outside the window......and parked cars everywhere which is explained by the fact that they operate a system here whereby car licences are issued for different days of the week in order to alleviate the serious traffic congestion ie you have a car and you're only allowed to drive that car on mondays, wednesdays, fridays and sundays...........what happens of course is that if you've got the dosh you then buy another car that you can drive on tuesdays, thursdays and saturdays...................mmmm.............we had an amazing time in florence..........played open-air, right in the heart of the old town at the piazza san croce..........it doesn't get better than this....went on and played in thessaloniki last night at the earth theatre..... a beautiful modern amphitheatre which had actually been dug out of the hill that overlooks that city.....a brilliant audience who exhibited great patience at hearing a set with nine new songs and a band which ignored repeated requets for creep(....understandable on their part, the requests that is, as this was our first visit) and pop is dead (..... cheeky bastards....)

getting a little worried about how easy it is to drink vast amounts of alcohol on tour...kick-started by the lovely laika people who apart from playing some great shows with us also happen to make the greatest margaritas outside of mexico itself......they are dangerous touring partners..

the new songs are working pretty well now in the set....'in limbo's still a little tricky but it's more than made up by the way 'the national anthem' and 'everything in its right place' is going ..........our crew by the way are doing an immense job working outside in incredible heats while we swan around like popstars..........
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):


Thom was apparently very keen on releasing 'Everything In Its Right Place' as the first single from Kid A, but then the band decided not to put out any singles at all. Thom later expressed his regret over that decision.
When the band reworked the song for live performance the lead off track of the album evolved into the ideal closing track. For years it would end the main set before the first encore.
The performance from may 28th 2001 in Vaison-la-Romaine was released on I Might Be Wrong - Live Recordings. This video comes from a live webcast of the entire gig on www.inrocks.com, the website by the French magazine Les Inrockuptibles:

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This solo performance comes from the Bridgeschool Benefit Concert on october 26th 2002:

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Ed O'Brien: "'Everything in Its Right Place' was the first completed track. It was finished last summer, and it was Thom and Nigel. The song had been kicking around, we had tried it in Paris, we tried it in Copenhagen, in a band format, hadn't really worked. Thom and Nige were at Batsford House out in Gloucestershire, went away into the room for an evening, and worked on it. I remember coming later that night or the next morning, thinking 'This is just amazing, this is wonderful', you know, the potential of using this new technology, not resorting to guitars, and the whole thing of it. And it was, it was..."

Phil Selway: "It was very much a case of letting go."

Ed: "Yeah."

Phil: "For me, along with that. Ok, you hear there's a quality there, but along with that come all the insecurities of 'but I'm not playing on it!'"

Ed: "'I didn't play on this track!' [laughs] That's right."

Phil: "I mean, in ways, that song is brilliant, because it did bring out..."

Ed: "It forced the issue, immediately! And to be genuinely sort of delighted that you'd been working for six months on this record and something great has come out of it, and you haven't contributed to it, is a really liberating feeling. It's like, you could say 'Fuck! I've been working, I've been playing guitar for six months and everything I've done is crap!' [laughs]"

Paul: "From a listener point of view I'd have to say it's a good call. Because it really sounds like the beginning of something."

Ed: "Yeah, it definitely sets the tone of it. It's the key to this record. [...] I mean, I think 'Everything In Its Right Place'... I think it's really tense, and actually, in its own way, really emotional. But it doesn't have the obvious, huge crescendos that have existed on previous tracks and records of ours."
Chris Douridas: "In terms of the writing and the recording process, do you remember where the breakthrough came? Was there a moment of epiphany, or was it a series of smaller... "

Ed O'Brien: "It was a series of small ones, really. The first one I remember was the one when we were in Batsford. We've been working in a band context a lot of the time, and one night, Nigel and Thom sort of shut themselves away and did 'Everything In Its Right Place', and we heard it the next day. And that was a breakthrough, the sound of what they'd done was like, 'yeah, that's really, really different and it's something that really excites us'."
Jonny Greenwood: "'Everything In Its Right Place' was important because, unlike with OK Computer, our last record, we were happy to leave parts of it empty. I think in the past we've been too scared to leave sounds exposed or to have too much space around them, and we've been guilty of layering on top of what's a very good song or a very good sound, and hiding it, camouflaging it, in case it's not good enough. And 'Everything In Its Right Place' was one of the first songs that we actually realised is great, even though it's so sparse." [...]

Colin Greenwood: "[Nigel] didn't think much of 'Everything In Its Right Place' when he heard it, he didn't think it was going to be any good, but then Thom was banging it out on an upright piano, you know, and then he and Thom like stayed up late one night in this big country house we rented out in England and did it on a proper keyboard and then Nigel used a scrubbing tool in Protools to like scratch the soundwaves, and made all these mad sounds that no-one had done before and it was amazing."
Live performances #271 to #278 during the making of The King of Limbs:
271. january 24th 2010 The Music Box Theatre at The Fonda Los Angeles, CA USA Link
278. august 6th 2010 Big Chill Festival Ledbury UK Link
  Thom solo section [prev. released songs] oct. 2009 april/august 2010
Videotape [2] 17 01
I Might Be Wrong [1] 01
Like Spinning Plates [3] 08 11 14
Fog [1] 06
Everything In Its Right Place [6] 05 06 10 14 17 18
Airbag [3] 11 15 18
Live performances #279 to #301 during the touring for The King of Limbs:
Live performances #302 to #329 during the touring for The King of Limbs: