[Coldplay] Viva La Vida or Death & All His Friends is about the human life cycle
(x-post from /r/Coldplay, it was suggested I post here as well)This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while—about 6 years actually—and I apologize in advance for the sheer length of it. I’m gonna spare Reddit most of the excruciating details, for the sake of brevity, but I might deeply analyze full lyrics and whatnot in the future, and leave a Google Doc link to it. But, we’ll see.Also, remember that this is just a theory. I like the idea of it, but I find the possibility that Chris and the rest of the band planned this rather unlikely. It’s also possible that this is completely well known and I just haven’t come across anyone who’s figured it out, by some fucked up odds. Anyway, let’s get into it.Viva La Vida or Death & All His Friends As A WholeOpinions aside, this album is one of Coldplay’s greatest works, especially in its experimentation that set it apart from both earlier albums and the ones that came after it.Now, gushing aside, as the title mentions, I believe this album details the struggles and victories of human life, from birth to death. I also believe it’s (almost) completely neutral to culture and nationality in its story, giving us a non-polarized narrative that speaks across borders.The Core TracksLife In TechnicolorThis song illustrates the colorful, mystical years of early childhood. The very beginning (where Jon Hopkins’ Light Through The Veins sample is used) still takes place during birth or perhaps in the womb. The playfulness and grand explosiveness of the hammer dulcimer and building instruments in the song conveys a feeling of adventure, joy, and newness—the state of being of a young child, from ages 0-5, where they are simply exploring and attempting to grasp the strange new world around them. The song seems to tell the oldest story of a stranger in a strange world.The song contains no lyrics, to convey the fact that children can’t speak, and that their thoughts have no language organization either, floating in their heads as a feeling (in this case, a very musically-motivated feeling). In fact, the only vocals on the track are howls/chants, expressing perhaps a very small but growing grasp on language and communication. But for now, the child’s only concern is to touch, feel, and explore this brave new world.Cemeteries of LondonCemeteries of London is easiest to describe as a child’s imagination at play. This is the childhood that we can actually remember: a turbulent and exciting time from (roughly) ages 5-11 where witches are real, and ghost towns are deep in the ocean. It shows the fantastic curiosity and fascination with the world that children have as they grow up, with their imaginative scenarios and stories of faraway places filling their heads, crossing paths with reality as they try to find their way through life.Lost!Lost! is a song that a lot of people would write off as a misfit, or simply as “meaningless”, whenever I would talk to them about this theory. Lost! does have a more “simple” format compared to other songs on the album. I suppose it’s not nearly as experimental and is quite predictable, but it does have a very, very important place in the narrative: the teenage years.We’ve all felt lost when we were teenagers. Hopelessly trying to grab at identity, wanting always to be someone else, or someone older, just to escape the pain of growing up. Lost! shows us the inner monologue of the fighting teenager—the pain of being outdone by another when you know you’re perfectly capable, the feeling that everything you touch goes to shit, and the world is falling out from under you. Where Lost! is particularly powerful is in the fact that the protagonist of the song is resolute through the pain, and pushes on steadily to reach the next stage in life.The song may almost seem dismissive or reluctant to accept the joy of the time it represents, wanting to repress what little good that was found in favor of a motivational pain. What we find later, is that its alternate version, Lost?, is the remembrance of this time, finding wisdom in the trials of these years. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.42This part of the album is particularly interesting, because I find that its placement along the album’s theoretical timeline is extremely malleable. You could actually move this song anywhere on the album pre-Viva La Vida and it would stay true to its message.We can all agree that 42 is about death, but I believe it’s not just any death—it’s a person’s first experience with the beast itself. The protagonist seems to be in a state of denial about death, and retreats into his/her head to cope with it. In the second half of the song, it shows a fantastic dramatization of the deceased’s path to the afterlife, apparently being stuck as a ghost between this world and the next. Perhaps the ghost itself isn’t real, but rather the ghost of memory left behind in the minds of the living, the prevailing feeling of joy and nostalgia when remembering a deceased loved one.Lovers In Japan / Reign Of LoveI was going to separate these two, but ultimately decided against it, because they are conjoined for a reason. Lovers In Japan shows us an intimate experience of a deep love between two people, and the grand adventure both in Japan and in their lives that they embark on together. Chronologically, this could either directly follow Lost! or 42, depending on where 42 most logically sits on the timeline. Speaking of which, I do think the band chose the most logical place for 42, anywhere else would have felt notably more out of place.Lovers seems to almost be nostalgic of itself, aching to remember this beautiful time in the protagonist’s life, as they fall in love with the one they truly want to be with. What I find interesting about the song is that the lyrics describe the couple in question wanting to escape their lives to the Osaka sun. This shows us the desire that young people have to leave their hometowns and their humdrum lives, to pursue something greater than themselves and their roots. But, the protagonist doesn’t want to do it alone, he only wants to escape with his love.Reign Of Love expands this narrative into a darker, slightly more reflective version of the same message. While the protagonist still wishes to escape, they’re locked in the throes of regret for not speaking up and fighting for their right to feel free with their love. While there is hope in Reign Of Love, it shows us the darker points of love, but how ultimately, it presses on through the plight, to the next avenues of life.YesThis song is well known as a song about sexual temptation. But, I think it goes deeper than that: it’s a time in a person’s life when they’re caught in the indecision of commitment in a very serious relationship. Sex not only represents itself, but represents giving yourself to another person; assuming this is the same couple from the rest of the narrative, it could be their struggle with whether or not to marry, or whether or not to simply stick with one another, when other temptations fill their minds. Given its placement in the album, I almost wonder if the song could be about an trying to avoid an affair in a tumultuous relationship.In general, I think it’s just about our protagonist’s struggles with sexual tension. Whether that be in their steady relationship or with other people, it remains an interesting chapter for both the protagonist and for people in general, when sexual temptation can easily cause us to make decisions we can regret in the future.Chinese Sleep Chant deserves a mention here, because I find it to be a conclusion to Yes’s micro-narrative on sexual tension: “sleep satisfied” repeated continually tells us that the protagonist’s sexual reservations have finally been resolved. How, we’re not certain, but it would be safe to assume that they have given into their temptation, and everything turned out better than expected.Viva La VidaI think Viva was made the primary title track because it comes to the point in adult’s life when they conclude one half of their life for another. I’d place it around 35-40 years old, but perhaps more broadly 30-50. It shows us humility in the face of defeat, and an acceptance of a life that may not be as fantastic as we dreamed of, but is made beautiful by the love of those around us.Viva shows our protagonist’s inevitable fall from grace, their failures throughout time culminating in their mind, leaving them in a less than desirable lifestyle. Many may contest me on this, but I believe this is a point in life that everyone eventually comes to: a sense of humility in the face of defeat, and an overall acceptance of what we have now as opposed to what we could have had in the past. It’s a step through the threshold of adulthood to the reality of now, where we leave behind our regrets in favor of a life in the present. Perhaps that is why it’s named Viva La Vida—live life.Violet HillThis song is very war-driven. I wondered for a long time how it might fit into the greater narrative, and it seems that Violet Hill finds itself in the midst of a family’s struggle with financial, political, and social cataclysm. Darkness presents itself in the form of threats from the political establishment, which the protagonist seems disillusioned with altogether, and even alluding to rejection of a former military background.The song paints a vivid image of hate for the socio-economic machine, all in the midst of tension and distance between two lovers, one of whom refuses to communicate with another. Overall, the song seems to be about distance: distance from politics, distance from one another, and especially, distance from control. It shows us someone who is uncertain what the future holds for both them and their children, angered and afraid about what might come.Violet Hill has always struck a chord with me, because its lyrics very much resemble the sentiments my own parents had during the 2008 Recession. We all felt as though the system had betrayed us, and from many people I’ve spoken to, this seems to be a common period in later adult life, when worry for their children’s future is all-consuming.Strawberry SwingAh, Strawberry Swing. Such a wonderfully blissful song. I find that this song seems to be a wise, zen reflection on times past, specifically the childhood years, of someone much, much older. This seems to be our protagonist looking back to his/her childhood (Life in Technicolor through Cemeteries of London) at an elderly age, recalling vivid and colorful memories of strawberry-painted swings and naïveté.I’ve noticed that the beginning/middle of this song is really reflective, while the latter third is more about memories occurring in real time—as if this older person is still capable of feeling that happiness, as long as they’re with the ones they love.Death & All His Friends / The EscapistI consider this song to be a magnum opus of Coldplay. Not only that, but a magnum opus of songs detailing death. Death & All His Friends is the end of the album, and the end of our protagonist’s life. The beginning shows us a calm acceptance of death to come, and just a longing to be with loved ones for a final time, before passing on. The lyrics here almost perfectly sum up the entire life of the protagonist, through their summers and winters, they flew and they hurried, but ultimately they arrived where they wanted to be: in the warm embrace of love.But, in the middle of the song, we start to feel the charge toward the finish line of death. The music picks up and pulses on valiantly, and the lyrics tell us how our protagonist doesn’t want to die, and wants to be with their loved ones and feel that joy for all eternity. This is the one set of lyrics that seals in the theory for me: “I don’t want a cycle of recycled revenge”. This tells us that the protagonist doesn’t want their anger and their pain that they’ve felt in their life to be recycled, to be the last thing they think of as they pass. Instead, they want their love and their soul to recycle through to eternity.And finally, The Escapist. Jon Hopkins’ Light Through The Veins sample returns again, denoting our protagonist’s passage from life with a moment of silence before it kicks in to greet us. This is the final expression of the protagonist, where he/she speaks about the final moments of death. The song then passes into the sample once more, eventually fading out… And if the album is set on repeat, it flows right back into Life In Technicolor. I believe this is an expression of reincarnation, or perhaps the recycling of love and the human soul, as if to say that love persists through death, and will always exist as long as feeling creatures grace the earth. This is what I think all of Death’s Friends are: reincarnation, or some kind of cyclical force of spirituality, that drives life to go on.And that concludes my theory. If you made it this far, thanks for reading, and apologies for the likely boring as hell analysis. I wanted to go into it on the bonus tracks/cut tracks as well, but this seemed long enough. Maybe we’ll try for a part two sometime? Anyway, I’m very tired, and I’d like to sleep now. >_>TL;DR the entire album is a continuous narrative about life, death, and taxes.
Hum Tv Dramas Lyrics 2015
Submitted by VirtualWeasel
[Coldplay] Viva La Vida or Death & All His Friends is about the human life cycle