“Life in a glass house” is a criticism of the judgments made by members of society who are themselves living inside a fragile illusion. Thom Yorke uses metaphor to equate contemporary civilization, with its social, economic, and political milieu, to the archetype ‘glass house’ in which we are not to throw stones. Thom Yorke addresses this aspect of the metaphor directly, stating: “Don't talk politics and don't throw stones.”

He is also specifically critical of certain aspects of public opinion, notably the death penalty. He states that: “once again we are hungry for lynchings” and that “that’s a strange mistake to make. You should turn the other cheek, living in a glass house.” Basically, he is saying that as isolated as members of the first world are, in his perception, from the reality of life that it is presumptuous and incorrect to seek justice through execution. Additionally, he draws attention to the perverse aspect of the death penalty by referring to ‘lynchings’, the prime example of mob rule overpowering the rule of law and an example of the degree to which men can be ruled by bloodlust.

Thom Yorke’s inherent paranoia towards the government is also revealed in this song when, in the last verse, he states that despite his desire to “stay and chew the fat” he is unable to do so due to the existence of an outside force observing: “there's someone listening in.” By concluding the song on this note, Thom seems to be exposing the manner in which one aspect of a corrupt society can prevent the proper operation of another: a spreading sociological cancer.

Thom is critical of false appearances, ”She is putting on a smile”, and consumerist processes of mass production: “Once again packed like frozen food and battery hens.” Overall, this song is an attack against all aspects of modern society that elicit disgust from the multifaceted headman of Radiohead. Unlike some of their other songs, which promise the possibility of escape, “Life in a Glass House” seems to be a catalogue of an inescapable malaise that is permeating modern life.

I built my glass house one pane at a time
Scratched her portrait deep in the glass
Filled the lines with paint
Then broke the windows

I made a mosaic from the pieces
So when I held it to the light
It painted the pavement a sunset
That looked like a prairie fire

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