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Stories in Songs: Fake Plastic Trees

(Source: Youtube)

Here is one of my favorite songs that tells a lot in 4 minutes. It’s Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees”, that was released in their album The Bends in 1995.

In the first verse, is an image of a woman growing a plant, trying to create something. But it’s not a sincere thing she creates, since the words “fake” and “plastic” are used. Perhaps she’s trying to be somebody that she’s not. Then it shows that all those around her are superficial. The chorus “it wears her out” means that filling in her empty void, is stressful.

The second verse introduces her man. He’s broken. Polystyrene is like plastic. The man tried to fill his void but he failed, hence “cracked polystyrene man”. “He used to do surgery for girls in the 80’s.” the 80’s was a time of glamor (glamor = fake), and a time of being naive. Back then, the naive man did “surgery”, trying to change someone for the better. Since they’re “girls”, he attempted a romantic relationship. But he’s unsuccessful, since fate undermines his efforts.

In the third verse, the singer speaks in first person. By “she”, it’s the same woman mentioned throughout the song. She’s his fake plastic love. The speaker says that she’s good at filling her void, but he “can’t help the feeling.” He thinks if “he could blow through the ceiling and turn and run”, he could break out of his void.

But, he couldn’t, and apologies by the line “if he could be who she wanted”.



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