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
Four lines of early ideas for the lyrics ("somebody's mother/somebody's son/somebody's daugther/somebody's father") can be seen in the left page of this scan from Thom's sketchbook, that appeared in the 'scrapbook' section of

The 2002 live arrangements were considerably different in structure and lyrics, the latter varying with each performance, suggesting many lines were made up on the spot.
On July 24th 2002, the song was performed in Lisbon, Portugal. Below there's a recording and an attempt at a transcript from this version:
when will you come to me
over my dead body
yours is all I have to answer to
over my dead body

I'm not sure when you dream
may pretty horses come to you as you sleep tonight

me me me all the time
you're the future so get used to it
me me me all the time

I gotta go to sleep
and watch you walk all over me

over my dead body
In July 2002, the following page with lyrical sketches (also from the 'scrapbook' section of was written in Porto, Portugal:

The guitar-work at the end of this track was achieved by Jonny playing a sequence of random notes on his guitar that were being processed through a digital patch for software called Max/MSP, which is musical software frequently used by electronica or experimental artists. Some believe that even though this is a random process, what you hear on record sounds slightly more structured and therefore may have been edited in the production process.
A similar solo to that heard in the live versions of 'Go To Sleep' was played by Adrian Belew on the 1980 Talking Heads song 'Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On)', though it was generated through different technology. Radiohead have cited the album Remain in Light, on which that song appears, as a major influence on their work in general.
On March 30th 2003, the rough mix of the song leaked and it represents the state of work from February. This version is almost identical to the released version, but features a longer ending by fading out later.
'Go to Sleep' was released as the second single from Hail to the Thief on august 18th 2003. It entered the UK Singles Charts at #12, was down to #35 the following week and down to #55 the week after.
The single was issued as a CD in the 2-CD-format, the b-sides being 'I am Citizen Insane' and a Thom solo piano live version of 'Fog' for CD1, and 'Gagging Order' and 'I am a Wicked Child' for CD2.
Thom: "'Go To Sleep' was one we never thought... a track that we kind of didn't think we'd get off the ground. A few times, that we played it live to people, it was just this embarrassing sort of guitar noodle thing, that just didn't really work out or would just collapse halfway through, it was aweful. But we sort of kept going, and kept going. And it was one of those ones that we just expected to die all the time, and then it didn't. And then it turned into this really jubilant thing, you know. And there's bits of Phil's playing in that... the way he plays really, really lose at the moment, which is great, you know. I think it's sort of quite sexy and it really... it's not something we... you know, normally we play uptight, but I think at the end of Kid A and Amnesiac we suddenly weren't playing uptight anymore. And it's a good thing for us, I think.

And the lyrics themselves were just... I mean, I had this whole thing about the record, where I really, really wanted it to write itself, where I really didn't want like any sort of mandate or we're trying to prove anything or whatever. It was just... I think that was a payback from the Kid A/Amnesiac thing, where I think in a way I was quite shocked about how suddenly... you know, the way everybody interpreted about this big sort of left turn deliberately or whatever, whereas to me it didn't really feel like that. It was sort of logical progreesion. But obviously not, or something, I don't know. So I was like 'ok, I'm just not gonna think about this at all from my point of view'. So when I was writing the lyrics, it was sort of... whatever was coming out of my mouth, if I thought it was half decent I'd make a note of it. And then 'Go To Sleep' was like... it was literally whatever was coming out of my mouth. And I just had a look at it in the end, and to me it was nonsense all the way through, and I was like 'it's ok'. You know, much of the lyrics on this record I'd say 'Obviously I'll rewrite this in the end, chaps. At the moment this is just nonsense.' And they were going 'Really? Ok'. And that was one where it was all kind of... at the time I thought it was complete nonsense. And then it turned into this really amazing thing, that, to be honest, wasn't me, really. Didn't feel like me at all. In fact I've done it, which is great. I mean, that's how I remember when I first started writing songs, when we first were in the band as well, that's how I remember doing it. I think you get all this baggage over the years, that comes up through the analysis and stuff. And you start like worrying about the consequences of what you might say in this track or that track. And it ultimately ends up being bollocks, really. And also, I mean, I think Kid A and Amnesiac were born out of that. The way I was trying to write there was a way of trying to deal with that. Whereas this time it was like 'whatever, I'm not interested what the consequences of this are', you know. 'This is just what I do today. Gotta get home at lunchtime anyway'."

Colin: "For me, what summed the record up was a track called 'Go To Sleep', which we were rehearsing. And it's got a sort of folky first half, and then it sort of grooves out in the second half. And we had this great sort of 1960s English sort of folk, I don't know, west coast thing going, early garfunkel, first half. It was brilliant. And then we couldn't have an outro, so then we just played it through and recorded it like in one take. And it sounded great, but we sort of lost the first half of the song. What I'm saying is, people didn't come into the studio with like 'this is how everything should sound, and if it's not gonna sound like this then I'm going to throw my toys out', or just freak out or not be happy or... You know, everyone was like very 'well, if it didn't work out, that's fine'. because everyone was relaxed about it. We created a space for something unexpected, and it's good or sometimes better to replace it."

Thom: "With most of the lyrics, like the ones on 'Go To Sleep', I was thinking, 'Well, this is obviously all nonsense, I'll have to rewrite it'. Then there we were in the studio in the day of recording and I hadn't rewritten it yet, so it was, 'Right, that'll have to be it.' And now I look at it, they're the lyrics I'm most proud of. They're involuntary, there was no mandate, no trying to make a statement, but obviously somewhere in the back of my head it was happening."
NME: Based around an acoustic guitar riff, the song seems to juxtapose newspaper headlines ("Something big is going to happen") with the replies of the man in the street ("Over my dead body"). Includes an image from Swift's 'Gulliver's Travels', of little people tying "the monster" down while he sleeps.

Thom: "Yeah, the Gulliver's Travels thing. I really want the video to be something about that, somehow. Very difficult to take responsibility for the words, because I feel like I got beamed them from somewhere else. I don't feel like they're mine at all. It used to turn into this dodgy guitar thing at the end (To Jonny). Not you, specifically. All of us."

Jonny: "The key was getting it right without it sounding like a worthy rock thing. Basically, we've been playing live concerts for the last four years and been so relaxed. I think we're beginning to feel like that in the studio, and this is a good example of that."

Thom: "I think we're loosening up. At last. Taken an Ex-Lax."
Thom: "'Little man being erased' is an animation that Stanley did, which is gonna be on the website probably. That was again another possible title for the record, which is nice but didn't fit.

And the words to this were pretty much written all the way down the line 'ok, I'll change all of these at one point, because this is all nonsense, blah, blah, blah'. And then [it] actually ended up in the studio and it's like, 'Ok, now we're gonna do this one.' 'Ok, I need to rewrite the words'. And then reading through the words I'd got in the notes and discovering that I'd actually got something really coherent, without actually having really made the effort to do it, or rather, I couldn't see it.

So it's actually the lyrics I'm most proud of on the record, I think."
Phil: "I'm really happy with the way 'Go To Sleep' turned out, because that was probably the track that we were having the most difficulty with arranging during pre-production, and then on the touring. I think it was a good measure of how much we've come on as musicians - that within the space of a day in the studio, we had actually thrown together a good arrangement."
Q: "Please explain the strange effect on 'Go To Sleep'."

Jonny: "We're starting to play with computers and write stuff for them, that does things like that. So it's like, we're still using computers, but we're getting rid of other people's programs, in a way, and building really wonky kind of broken pieces of software like that one, that makes that noise and then crashes a computer. So, it's fun, yeah, we're into it."
Q: "Which song took the least time?"

Thom: "'We Suck Young Blood' was easy and 'The Gloaming' and 'Backdrifts' were finished pretty fast. 'Where I End And You Begin' was a nightmare. 'Go To Sleep' was an even greater nightmare. (giggles) With that we thought for a while that we would never get it going and now it's one of the songs I am most proud of. But for six months it was some kind of very, very awful Westcoast-Rock-thing, while we kept just looking at each other like: 'What are we doing here? This is awful!'"
Q: "Now did you shoot anything for it, and then they just put the CGI over you?"

Thom: "I had to do that sort of... uh..."

Q: "Where they put the ping-pong balls over you?"

Thom: "On your face! It was horrible. It was about 60 of them on my face"

Colin: "Weird! Those ESP sort of things"

Thom: "Yeah. Stuck with glue… very strange. Very profound. Very… the weirdest video shoot I've ever been on because there was no video cameras. Uh, there was a director. All it was was a bunch of infrared sensors and people walking around in the silliest bubble suits you've ever seen in your life walking up and down doing all the crowd scenes, like, this girl and this guy doing all of the people in the crowd one by one. Very strange..."
The following recording comes from the april 15th show in Osaka, Japan. It was remixed by Jonny and made available as a benefit download for Warchild on September 9th 2004 as 'Go To Sleep (Butts Mix)':
Live performances #74 and #75 during the touring for The King of Limbs:
  The King of Limbs tour (1st half) 09/'11 02/'12 march 2012 april 2012 05/'12 june 2012
Go to Sleep [2] 01 03
The Gloaming [26] 27 01 03 05 06 07 13 15 09 11 12 14 17 18 21 29 31 01 03 05 06 08 10 11 13 15
There there [26] 27 29 01 03 05 06 07 09 11 13 15 09 11 14 17 18 21 29 31 03 06 08 10 11 13 15
Myxomatosis [23] 28 29 29 01 03 06 07 09 11 13 15 09 11 12 14 29 31 01 05 06 10 11 15
'Go to Sleep' was not performed during the second half of touring for The King of Limbs.