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
Jonny's dictaphone piano demo, which was used in the released version of 'Fitter Happier', was included in 2017 on the cassette that was part of the OKNOTOK 20th anniversary release of OK Computer. It was titled 'A piano lies down in the middle of the road':
Also included was a track called 'Nigel A.M.S. paranoid guitar sample', which was perhaps initially intended for 'Paranoid Android', but ultimately used in 'Fitter Happier':
This page, titled 'OESOPHAGUS', appeared on radiohead.com during the recording of OK Computer:

fitter, happier more productive

  • comfortable
  • not drinking too much
  • regular exercise at the gym (3days a week)
  • getting on better with your associate employee contemporaries
  • at ease
  • eating well (no more microwave dinners and saturated fats)
  • a patient better driver
  • a safer car (baby smiling in back seat)
  • sleeping well (no bad dreams)
  • no paranoia
  • careful to all animals (never washing spiders down the plughole)
  • keep in contact with old friends (enjoy a drink now and then)
  • will frequently check credit at (moral) bank (hole in wall)
  • favours for favours
  • fond but not in love (girlfriends and wives)
  • charity stanbding orders
  • on sundays ring road supermarket
  • (no killing moths or putting boiling water on the ants)
  • car wash (also on sundays)
  • no longer afraid of the dark
  • or midday shadows
  • nothing so ridiculoiusly teenage and desperate
  • nothing so childish
  • at a better pace
  • slower and more calculated
  • no chance of escape
  • now self-employed (his own man is_)
  • concerned (but powerless)
  • an empowered & informed member of society (pragmatism not idealism)
  • will not cry in public
  • girlfriends and wives
  • less chance of illness
  • tyres that grip in the wet (shot of baby strapped in back seat)
  • clean shaven
  • a good memory
  • still cries at a good film
  • still kisses with saliva
  • no longer empty and frantic
  • like a cat
  • tied to a stick
  • that's driven into
  • frozen winter shit (the ability to laugh at weakness)
  • calm
  • fitter, healthier and more productive
  • a pig
  • in a cage
  • on antibiotics

Ed: "Thom basically had this checklist, like a nineties checklist if you like, and he had written it out. There is a bit of him playing piano in the rehearsal room. He was very drunk one night, which you can tell by the sloppy playing on it, and he just played out this melody and stuff. He was very anxious that it wasn't him saying [the lyrics] - this voice is neutral. By the computer saying it, it doesn't become a bit of pretentious art-wank, it's something neutral in the way that the computer stumbles over words and doesn't get the pronunciation or the inflections right."
On both 'Fitter Happier' and OK Computer, Thom repeatedly states in interviews, "Everything is background noise. Our whole lives, the way our minds work. And the whole album is about that: levels of mental chatter." One can practically hear the sound of construction vehicles backing up or the wash of echoing voices in a shopping mall as one reads Thom's words. He continues, "And the reason 'Fitter Happier' exists is [because] of mental background noise. Some days you're in a disturbed state, and it moves to the front."
Thom : "The others were downstairs, 'rockin', and I crept upstairs and did this in ten minutes. I was feeling incredible hysteria and panic, and it was so liberating to give the lyrics to this neutral-sounding computer.

I had about three months where I couldn't write anything, but I constantly had lists. Then I realised that it was the only way I was going to say what I needed to say. Sometimes, before you have a genuine feeling it is circumvented by the outside, your brain is apologising for things that haven't even happened yet. But me, I listen to the piano bit."
'FITTER HAPPIER'
A computer speaks a random spiel of modern-living buzzphrases to a soundtrack of tinkling piano, screeching violin and, er, that's it, actually. Weird.
Colin: "Thom didn't want to have to say it, so we were messing around with a computer voicebox. We really liked the way the emotion still comes across, so we kept it."
Thom: "The computer was the most emotional voice I have ever heard, at the time."
Colin: "It sounds like Stephen Hawking is guesting on the album. Maybe he should have been. I used to see him when I was at college, toddling around in his wheelchair."
Key Lyric: "Concerned, but powerless..."
Thom: "Are the lyrics a reflection of my own life? Yes."
Ed: "It's about the lack of naturalness in modern life. I'd like to see the lyrics printed as a full page advert in one of those dreadful magazines like GQ or FHM, cos some people might believe all that stuff."
Colin: "Really, it's an exercise in finding meaning in things that seem to be random and chaotic and out of your control. A bit like life, really."
Jonny Greenwood: A mournful computer recites an ironic guide to modern living over sparse piano and strings." Thom put the words on his computer which has one of those vocal programs. We found it very beautiful when it spoke the words. It went from being gimmicky to something rather emotional". [So NOT Mr Hawking then!! - ed]
Q: "The artwork on the LP and some of the T-shirts on sale - they seem, to have quite a coherent set of concerns, ones that stem from 'Fitter Happier'. Was that an accident?"

Thom: "We actively chose to pursue the 'Fitter Happier' thing. The one that says 'Meeting People Is Easy', I like a lot. In that picture [the only bit of artwork reproduced on the CD itself], one guy's got a briefcase, one guy hasn't. Someone's being sold something they don't really want, and someone's being friendly because they're trying to sell something. That's what it means to me. It's quite sad, and quite funny as well."

Q: "It often seems that you're puzzling over a society in which people need outside advice about very primal things - how to remain healthy, how to interact with each other..."

Thom: "All the artwork and so on... we chose to pursue it after we did the track. More relevant is the reason I wrote the words in the first place. [pause] These were things I was being told to do. I showed it to the others and they liked it, and then Stanley - who does the artwork - was playing around on the computer and made it say it.

After that, it went from being a list of things that had a lot of emotional meaning for me and that was it, to coming to life. In fact, it was all the things that I hadn't said in the songs. Stanley was really just pushing into it, and I was as well in the end. It was like, 'I'm not going to hide this thing that I wrote, 'cause I'm really proud of it."
Q: "Are you at all amused by the fact that this is simultaneously your most out-there and you most succesful album to date?"

Ed: "Well, I don't think the record company expected it to do as well as it has. But I think that's more to do with music generally. Everything seems to have widened out. With this record, we were proud of it but Maybe it was a bit (pause) perverse in parts, When you put something like 'Fitter Happier' in... that had to go in, but it was a question of where you placed it. If that had gone at the start, it would have been, 'No man, you've gone right over the boundaries of (pause) what's decent'."
Thom: "The reason 'Fitter Happier' exists is 'cause of mental background noise. Some days you're in a disturbed state and it moves to the front."

Q: "And it's about what the mental chatter is, or suggested remedies for it..."

Thom: "All those things at once. It's not all suggestions, a lot of its observations. 'A pig in a cage on antibiotics' was just a really shocking passage I found in a book. It's by Jonathan Coe and it's called 'What A Carve Up' [published by Penguin]. It's a really funny book, but a lot of it's based on the way...farming has changed [laughs]. The way that insensitive farming happened. One of the characters in the book is this screaming, right-winged farmer with a brother who's an MP lobbying..."
Q: "And what about 'Fitter Happier'? It sounds as if you took it straight from the pages of a self-help manual."

Thom: "I bought a whole load of those how-to-improve-your-life books, and we'd been trying to use them in different ways. One said something like, 'You will never make friends unless you like everyone, genuinely'. Oh, well, I'm fucked then, aren't I? And the legacy of those books goes on. You still meet people who really believe that the way to succeed is to adopt that smile and that smile will sell: 'Unless you believe in the product, you will not sell the product'."
This bag included the OK Computer promo tape sent to journalists prior to the release of the album:


(scan provided by nanakey)
Some artwork created for the promotion of OK Computer features lines from the track: