Who is Mr Bellamy? I never know who these people are. Who are Chuck and Dave from ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’? Who is Eleanor Rigby? Who are Desmond and Molly from ‘Ob-La-Di’? I don’t know – I just make them up. I like giving characters names and trying to make them fit.
I had a little piano riff that’s behind the ‘Mr Bellamy’ verse. I wanted some lyrics that would poke in and out of the riff, so I began with, ‘I’m not coming down, no matter what you say, I like it up here.’ Sometimes I don’t actually know where I’m going, so then I look at just what that verse is, and in this case I got a picture of a guy sitting on top of a skyscraper and all the people in the street – the rescue team, the psychiatrist, the man with the megaphone shouting: ‘Don’t jump’ and the people shouting: ‘Jump’. So I fished around for a name and came up with Bellamy, which sounded like someone who might want to jump. And I just followed the story through.
The end is like a pull back with a camera – there he is, little Bellamy sitting on the ledge, enjoying it up in the clouds. And that’s how we recorded it, as a sort of film.
The vocal from the first ‘B’ section comes in halfway through, and it really makes a good counterpoint vocal. Concert-quality double melody, and you can hear them both very clearly. They cross each other, but you can still hear them.
He wanted this kick pattern that was real quick. He was thinking it, but he couldn’t get his foot to do it the right way. So he jumped off the drum kit and undid the beater of the bass drum, and he got on his knees and played it by hand.” The drums are played normally during the rest of the song, creating a dynamic contrast.
We were recording, and there was a guy there doing a photo shoot, taking some pictures. You can actually hear his shutter snap on the song, which I left in the intro because the guy in the song is sort of in that situation, which fit.
Mix Online, 12 May 2008
Radiohead’s Thom Yorke was invited to appear on Memory Almost Full, but declined. He cited the complexity of ‘Mr Bellamy’ as a key reason.
I can’t play piano. Not like that. I had to explain to him that, I listened to the tune – ‘Mr Bellamy’ – and I really liked the song, but the piano playing involved two hands doing things separately. I don’t have that skill available. I said to him, ‘I strum piano, that’s it.’
The Observer, 9 December 2007