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Message 57: Alligators in the Sewers

The b-side song “Fog” opens with the following lines:

There’s a little child
Running round this house
And he never leaves
He will never leave

At line 7, the song’s setting changes dramatically: “Baby alligators in the sewers grow up fast.” Urban alligator mythology has a distinguished history. But this mythology, made in 1980 into a movie entitled Alligator, is applicable only indirectly. The speaker begins with talk of a “little child” that remains in the house despite unstated wishes that it would leave (evinced in the repetition: “And he never leaves / He will never leave”). The ensuing evocation of baby alligators, a stand-in for the anxiety inducing little child, should come as no surprise. Parenting a child confirms the parent’s mortality, a theme voiced succinctly in Donald Hall’s poem “My Son, My Executioner.” Thom Yorke has a son named Noah, but it is not at all clear that the protagonist of “Fog” can be equated with Yorke.

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