Main Index On a Friday 1985-1988 On a Friday 1989-1991 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..."
Thom's piano demo for the song was released in 2017 on the cassette that was part of the OKNOTOK 20th anniversary release of OK Computer:
This page appeared in 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 eight 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 may 1997 june 1997 july 1997 august 1997
Motion Picture Soundtrack [3] 15 16 17 19 12 22 26
  Unreleased september 1997 october 1997 november/december 1997
Motion Picture Soundtrack [5] 03 11 16 25 26 02 06 07 11 15
  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.
Steve Lamacq: "We're joined for the final part of this part of the programme by all the members of the band, and the thing is, that track, which comes at the end, which is called 'Motion Picture Soundtrack', after everything you've been through, through the album, and you get the impression that... I've got this sussed, (Thom laughs) it's 1984, no it's something else, no, it's the album, no, we're going over here, all of a sudden, everything, all your preconceptions go down the drain, and it suddenly becomes..... the whole album suddenly becomes on reflection... feels like a collection of contemporary film soundtracks, ending with The Wizard Of Oz."
Thom: "It's definitely the... well, if we were going to make a video for it, which of course we're not going to, but if we were, our dream was to actually have you know, the bluebirds... I don't know what..."
Ed: "Disney."
Thom: "...Disney film that's from, you know, 'the bluebird's on my shoulder'?"
Steve: "Oh, the kind of Zippedy-doo-dah."
Colin: "Louis Armstrong, 'What A Wonderful World', when he does the beginning of Disney, and he's got the bluebirds and the dancer."
Thom: "Oh, that's it, yeah, yeah."
Steve: "Down, Phil, (everyone laughs), back, just for a second, don't be getting any ideas... Now I had this yellow brick road thing in my mind, almost at the end of that, do you see what I mean, you could take various tracks, although there won't be any videos obviously for this record, but some of them are actually quite filmic in their design and their sound, do you see what I mean?"
Thom: "Maybe. I have to say that really... err..."
Steve: "It hadn't crossed your mind?"
Thom: "No, well, it wasn't the intention by any means, I think the reason that that song... I mean, that song is really, really ancient."
Steve: "Is it?"
Thom: "Yeah, yeah, that's like... that's pre-Creep, that song."
Steve: "Is it?"
Thom: "Yeah, yeah."
Ed: "Well, John Leckie wanted... always he... do you remember when we were making The Bends?"
Thom: "He kept banging on about it the whole time."
Ed: "He kept on going 'That crazy song', he said 'listen lads, can we get that crazy song again?' 'Nah...', you know, whatever, and that was about two, three years before that, wasn't it?"
Thom: "Yeah..."
Ed: "So that was 1994."
Thom: "Yeah, it was, it was before 'Creep'."
Steve: "How many songs have you got lying around in drawers?"
Thom: "Err... quite a lot. I mean, yeah, we always get... you get people at gigs going 'play 'True Love Waits'' or 'play...' - what was it - 'Nude' or... what was it, the other one, 'Big Boots', or 'Man-O-War' or, all these ones... and 'Lift', that's a classic one. (laughs)"
Ed: "Mmmm. (laughs)"
Thom: "Mmmm, yeah, hmmm. Well, you know, you have these songs, and you... from my point of view anyway, you know, you write these songs and the words like really really mean something to you, and then three months down the line, or three years down the line, you no longer understand where it came from, so you can't even begin to work out how to record it, or how to create the atmosphere that's supposed to go with it."
Steve: "How to vocalise it..."
Thom: "Yeah, and 'Motion Picture Soundtrack' was a classic sort of... I did it because everyone was sort of saying 'oh, you know, we should do this', and I was mucking around with it on this pump organ thing, and then that was the extent of my involvement and had absolutely no emotional contact with it at all, you know. And Cozzie and Jonny and Nigel were really like into it, and they thought it was really great, and I was like 'yeah, ok, well I'm going home now', and I came back, you know, twenty-four hours later, and Jonny had basically done all these harps and double basses on it, and it just sounded like, you know... I'd always wanted that song to be this big tragedy, but actually it is supposed to be a homage to Disney, you know, it's basically sort of saying, you know, you've been sold a massive white lie, and there's something essentially missing from your life, but... erm... it's essentially Disney's fault, that's what it's saying. (laughs)"
Steve: "But that must be quite nice, to actually be in a position where even now, you have a shared idea, even though you don't know it."
Thom: "Yeah, that's it."
Steve: "Jonny comes in and does all the things, you pick up an idea and turn it into something else."
Thom: "Yeah, I mean ask him where that came from, because I've got bloody no idea."
Steve: "Yeah, where did the harps come from?"
Jonny: "Err, oh, it's just a mixture of... I mean it's a bit like... it's... for me it's an adolescent dream at the moment because we just have a studio that just has instruments lying around, and that was always my kind of... always what I wanted to be able to do, and so you just have access to so many sounds and colours and instruments, and it's... you can try anything and..."
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."
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 played when the band toured in support of Amnesiac in the summer of 2001. This performance comes from the gig at The Gorge on june 23rd 2001:
However, the song's live days were numbered 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.
  Amnesiac tour may 2001 june 2001 07/'01 august 2001 september 2001 10/2001
Optimistic [10] 01 05 07 08 17 20 09 14 29 04
In Limbo [12] 26 28 30 01 02 04 24 27 29 30 02 03
Morning Bell [34] 26 28 30 01 02 04 09 18 20 23 24 27 29 30 07 30 01 03 05 07 08 14 16 17 20 08 09 11 14 29 30 02 03 04
Motion Picture Soundtrack [4] 23 27 29 07