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
Like another track on Kid A, 'The National Anthem', this song has roots that go back to the time when Radiohead were still On A Friday. Apparently it was written around the same time as 'Creep'.
Thom premiered 'Motion Picture Soundtrack' during a US tour as a solo acoustic rendition on april 10th 1996 for WHFS Radio in Rockville. At this point he was assuming it would be released on the band's third album, for which rehearsals had already taken place in january. Lyrics and structure are different to the version released on Kid A: the opening line starts with "white wine" instead of "red wine", and there's a third verse and a second chorus, which would be omitted for the final version. The recording presented here also includes a bit of chat about the song that follows the performance:

white wine and sleeping pills
help me get back to your arms
cheap sex and sad films
help me get back where I belong

I think you're crazy, maybe
I think you're crazy, maybe

stop sending letters
letters always get burned
it's not like the movies
they fed us on little white lies

I think you're crazy, maybe
I think you're crazy, maybe

I will see you in the next life

beautiful angel
pulled apart at birth
limbless and helpless
I can't even recognize you

I think you're crazy, maybe
I think you're crazy, maybe

I will see you in the next life
DJ: "Will that one wind up on the new record, Thom?"

Thom: "I sincerely hope so. It's one of the ones I'm most proud of. Just 'cause the melody... it's one of those ones you wake up in the middle of the night singing it in your head. Well, you do if you've written it, I suppose..."
This page appeared in radiohead.com during the OK Computer period under the title 'waving or drowning'. The band had attempted a version for their third album, apparently trying to use the sound of "the pulsing of a life support system", but judging from Thom's comment in this page they didn't get very far:



paranoid android. in a bar in hollywood* the centre of the western universe, standing at the bar (social drinking) after doing the talk show bit. do you want to know this? this is what we aspire to is it? it is dark, there is a woman opposite me o is as sociably anorexic as her poodle, she looks desolate in her make up and lost eyes, next to her her husband boyfriend is persuading a younger fleshed half his age stewardess to come back to the hills to their mansion to sample his wine. she looks t him like he's a character in a hammer house horror. one of our friends spills a glass of wine over a vacuum packed gucci outfit complete with matching white hand bag. the witch goes crazy, we think it is fuunny. until we see the evil in her eyes. m friend is asked to leave. the gucci creature is the closest thing i have seen to the devil. the woman is possessed. i cannot sleep that night asking what we've got our selves into. voices talking like fax machines, hissing and spitting like demons, this is the master race. and now im part of it. anyway you didnt want to know that.

motion picture the pulsing of a life support system . that's as far as we've got.

lull there is nothing more dull. than talking talkin about yourself. what i meant to say. im sorry that i lost control. distracted and irrelevant. the stress and the tension. coming through the keyhole when. im in lull.

transport motorways and tramlines starting and then stopping taking off and landing the emptiest of feelings disapppointed peoople clinging onto bottles and when it comes its so so disappointing.

True love waits are you a virgin? every night we are haunted it paces up and down outside my room, it talks to me in its sleep. its in the tape going round and round. it stops and starts the tape machine. goes into record when it feels like it. just let it happen. just dont leave. dont leave. it waits patiently. mum left her 8 year old locked in for a week with lollipops and crisps. she had to work or forgot or something. stanley says. you, like everyone else need to feel important.

The song was then played seven times as an encore during the OK Computer tour. The opening line had changed already from "white wine" to "red wine", but the third verse and second chorus were still part of the song.
In this particular performance from august 26th 1997 in New York City, which was chosen here for its good sound quality, Thom messes up the lyrics in the first verse:
  Unreleased january 1998 february 1998 03/98 april 1998 06+12/98
How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found [4] 01 12 18 13
Motion Picture Soundtrack [1] 02
Nude [5] 23 29 02 13 17
Speaking of new songs, guitarist Ed O'Brien confided to reporters this fall that "I Promise," and "True Love Waits," two of their unreleased songs that the band routinely play for sound checks, and "Motion Picture Soundtrack," which has appeared as a final encore in the past, could end up on the new album. Furthermore, O'Brien told NME that the band had already worked on some stuff in the back of their tour bus while they were on the road for the last album.
Thom worked out a completely new (perhaps Tom-Waits-inspired) arrangement during the Kid A sessions, that made use of a 19th century harmonium pedal organ, which had already been played on the Pablo Honey recording of 'Thinking About You'. The choir and harp samples, that were partly inspired by Alice Coltrane records and are supposed to evoke the atmosphere of old Disney movies, were added by Jonny.
Jonny: "Again, very old song, more than 10 years old as a musical idea. It's played on a very old harmonium pedal organ, on top of which we put some double basses and harp to try and sound like Alice Coltrane, John Coltrane's wife, who played lots of sitar-based kind of ground bass, repetitive Indian-influenced jazz."
Colin: "I like Motion Picture Soundtrack, because this journalist said it's like the Wizard of Oz, at the end of this mad record with all these mad sounds. You get the curtains pulled back and there's this bloke like pumping, you can hear the wheezing grinding of this guy pedalling to playing the keyboard. It's a harmonium from West Virginia from like the 1850s, that is actually on our first album, Pablo Honey, on a track called Thinking About You. And the studio closed down and the guy wanted to sell us the equipment, which was like a passing-on of this stuff. So I like the idea that it's on our forth and first record. And also at the Wizard of Oz, when you see after all the technology and the pro tools and the samplers, at the end of the day it's just like…"
Jonny Greenwood: "Again, a very old song, more than ten years old as a musical idea. It's played on a very old harmonium pedal organ on top of which we put some double basses and harp to try and sound like Alice Coltrane, John Coltrane's wife, who played lots of sitar-based kind of, you know, ground-based, repetitive, Indian-influenced jazz...” [...]

Colin Greenwood: "I like 'Motion Picture Soundtrack' 'cause this journalist said it's like the Wizard of Oz, it's at the end of this mad record with all these mad sounds – Steve Lamacq from Radio 1, he said you get the curtains pulled back and there's this bloke like pumping, you can hear the wheezing, grinding of this guy pedaling, playing the keyboard. It's a harmonium from West Virginia from like the 1850's that is actually on our first album, Pablo Honey, on a track called 'Thinking About You', and the studio closed down, and the guy wanted to sell us the equipment, which is sort of like a passing on of this stuff, so I love the idea that it's on our fourth and first record, and also like the Wizard of Oz, and you see after all the technology and the Protools and the samplers..."

Jonny: "...there's just an old man running it."
Jonny: "Originally it was... Thom recorded the song by himself, just using this old harmonium pedal organ. I suppose influenced by Tom Waits and that kind of singer/songwriter. And I just imagined it having harps and double basses. And so late one night, you know, tried to do a version. Trying to disguise the fact that we didn't have any real harps and we're cutting up all these samples and trying to make it all fit together. I love the sound of harps. The atmosphere we were trying to get was one the Disney films from the 50s, that was a kind music as well we were trying to copy."
Robert Sandall: "I gather Alice Coltrane - a piece by Alice Coltrane - was quite influential on one of the tracks."

Jonny Greenwood: "Yeah, there's a series of records on the Impulse label that just all seem to feature lots of tambourine shaking and bell shaking and harps. People like Alice Coltrane and Pharoah Saunders. That was again something that we found only fairly recently. Wonderful textures to the records, and very atmospheric recordings [...] Her records have a depth to them that we try to emulate." [...]

Mark Russell: "The track which maybe refers to Alice Coltrane, is 'Motion Picture Soundtrack', which has tons of harp glissandi all the way through it. What was the idea behind that?"

Jonny: "Well originally it was... Thom recorded the song by himself, just using this old harmonium pedal organ, I suppose influenced by Tom Waits and that kind of singer/songwriter. And I just imagined it having harps and double basses. And so late one night, you know, we tried to do a version, trying to disguise the fact that we don't have any real harps, and were cutting up all these samples and trying to make it all fit together. I just love the sound of harps, and the atmosphere we were trying to get was one of, you know, how the Disney films from the 1950s, where the colour fades slightly, and I think there was even one of the regular introductions that included the fairy spinning round."

Colin Greenwood: "Blue bird... Blue jay."

Jonny: "Was it a blue jay? And the sparks coming from behind."

Colin: "Yeah."

Jonny: "But the colours were all faded and watery, that was the kind of music as well we were trying to copy."
'Motion Picture Soundtrack' wasn't played during the summer 2000 tour yet. The Kid A arrangement was premiered on september 1st 2000 in Newport and then, after a few gigs, played regularly as the final encore for the rest of the Kid A tour.
The song was still part of most setlists when the band toured in support of Amnesiac in spring 2001, but its days were counted when the organ broke down during the South Park gig on july 7th 2001:
The song had to be stopped after a few bars. Instead, the band then launched into 'Creep' for the first time in over three years - a noteworthy coincidence, as both songs (while released eight years apart) had been written around the same time some thirteen years prior to this gig.