This song was first played at the Gorge in George, WA on June 23, 2001.
For instance, Reckoner keeps reminding of a line from the opening of Book II from Goethe’s Faust, “Life is not light but the refracted color.” The meaning is that life is not pure but mixed, like rainbows. Radiohead’s album title, “In Rainbows,” and this song from which it comes, suggest there are deals made, and reckonings to be made by the life we live and these deals mean we live multiple lives, not a singular or pure one. Thus, as the song, Reckoner, says, “Because we separate like/ripples on a blank shore.” That is to say, we fragment and in the fragmentation make and are “in rainbows.” We are clothed and bathed in the colors of life. This is the exit door from the moral dilemmas that would condemn us to hell for the choices we make, the inflexible codes that demand we live an impossibly pure life. It is redemption and is similar to the redemption of Faust at the end of the story, at least in Goethe’s version. Interestingly, the song preceding this one is currently called “Faust Arp.” This further lead to think it was intended. And Mephistopheles, shows up in, “Videotape,” which interestingly enough is a song about a kind of redemption. The album has the vague structure, of the Faust story.
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