Song of the Day 10/25

Posted: October 25, 2011 in J.C. Personal
Tags: ,

In honor of their album released yesterday, today’s song is the catchy, pop/rock single from British band Coldplay, “Viva la Vida”. It is, sort of, the title track from the 2008 album Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends, produced by super-producer Brian Eno. The album won the Grammy for Best Rock Album and was nominated for album of the year. The album has sold over 10 million copies worldwide.

Coldplay formed in 1996 and their early releases are little known. It wasn’t until 2000 when Coldplay released Parachutes, containing the single “Yellow” that Coldplay became famous. Since that time, Coldplay have released six albums, collected six Brit Awards, four MTV Video Music Awards, seven Grammys from twenty nominations and have sold over 50 million records. “Viva la Vida” is Coldplay’s highest charting single, reaching number one on both the UK Singles Chart and Billboard’s Hot 100. The song was only the sixth song in history to sell over 4 million paid downloads.

The song is about a king that is watching his kingdom slip away. He is lamenting his former glory and wondering where his once-great power has gone. The song is filled with biblical references, for example, “And I discovered that my castles stand/Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand”, is from Matthew 7 “…the foolish man who built his house on sand”, and from the story of Lot in Genesis. There are a lot of interpretations of the song’s meaning. Some believe it is about Jesus, others about Roman emperors. Some even believe it is about the French revolution. My take on the song is that no matter how much power we wield all of our choices count. One thing I have learned in my limited travels is that we are all two or three bad decisions away from the homeless we pass on the street. I will post the full lyrics at the end so that you can come up with your own interpretation.

Coldplay is very protective of how their music is used in the media. Mr. Gwyneth Paltrow, Chris Martin, has said that the band wouldn’t be able to live with themselves if they sold the songs’ meanings for commercials. One exception is the use of “Viva la Vida” in an iTunes commercial. Coldplay viewed this more as a promotional partnership.

One thing I find fascinating about this band is their activism. Coldplay supports Amnesty International; Martin is a spokesperson for Oxfam’s Make Trade Fair. Coldplay are known for giving 10% of their profits to charity and ask that any gifts meant for the band be donated to charity. Coldplay supports Meat Free Monday, Paul McCartney’s initiative to help slow climate change. They have also auctioned a large quantity of memorabilia (including their first guitars…ouch) for Kids Company, a London organization. Coldplay has also performed at many charity events, including the Hope for Haiti Now event.

Love them or hate them, Coldplay is one of the biggest musical acts around and if nothing else, appreciate that they use their time and money for some good causes.

See ya on the “b” side.


As promised, the lyrics to “Viva la Vida”
I used to rule the world
Seas would rise when I gave the word
Now in the morning I sleep alone
Sweep the streets I used to own

I used to roll the dice
Feel the fear in my enemy’s eyes
Listen as the crowd would sing
“Now the old king is dead! Long live the king!”

One minute I held the key
Next the walls were closed on me
And I discovered that my castles stand
Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand

I hear Jerusalem bells a ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror, my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field

For some reason I can’t explain
Once you go there was never
Never an honest word
And that was when I ruled the world

It was the wicked and wild wind
Blew down the doors to let me in
Shattered windows and the sound of drums
People couldn’t believe what I’d become

Revolutionaries wait
For my head on a silver plate
Just a puppet on a lonely string
Oh who would ever want to be king?

I hear Jerusalem bells a ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror, my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field

For some reason I can’t explain
I know Saint Peter won’t call my name
Never an honest word
But that was when I ruled the world


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