Monday, December 01, 2008

Spirit of Coldplay 2: Prospekts March.

Coldplays Viva La Vida was a subtle assault on U2's crown as the most spiritual stadium band of the turn of the millenium. Prospekts March, the Coldplay EP released last week, isn't quite such rich pickings, but there are one or two intriguing clues to the spirit of Coldplay.

The EP has 8 tracks, 3 are remixes of tracks on Viva La Vida (Lost+, Lovers in Japan and Life in Technicolour ii, which adds a layer of vocals over the original instrumental). There are 5 new tracks: Postcards from Far Away (short instrumental), Glass of Water, Rainy Day, Prospekts March/Poppyfields, and Now My Feet Won't Touch the Ground. There aren't any official lyrics with the CD, but this site is as good as any for finding them.

As a Coldplay fan, I wasn't disappointed - quite frankly I couldn't work out how Lovers in Japan had been remixed, but don't care because it's my favourite track of 2008. And Glass of Water is a cracker. There are cross-references a-plenty 'Now My Feet' picks up from the refrain of 'Death Will Never Conquer', a rootsy concert extra on Coldplay's latest tour, and there's some Pink Floyd in there for the discerning customer too. The whole CD checks in at nearly 30m, which is pretty good for an EP, and longer than some Smiths LP's used to be.

The most obvious religious references crop up in Lost +:

See Jesus, see Judas/ See Caesar, see Brutus/ see success is like suicide/Suicide, it's a suicide/If you succeed, prepare to be crucified (done by rapper Jay-Z)

where the rapper seems to be comparing the fate of Jesus to that of various rap artists and black leaders who were killed (Martin Luther, Malcolm X). I'm not convinced about putting rap artists on the same plinth as civil rights leaders, but the insight is fair enough - 'if you succeed, prepare to be crucified'. There is a world of difference, though, between the crucifixion of Jesus and any other martyrdom. Sure we take up our cross and follow him, but I wouldn't pretend that any of our suffering is equivalent to what Jesus did, or to argue that Notorious Big is somehow deserving of being on a roll-call of martys alongside the Son of God. Is that because I is white?

Rainy Day is a bit more subtle, and rather ambiguous:
Then there was rain
The sound foundations are crumbling
Through the ground comes a bit of a-tumbling
And time was just floating away
We can watch it and stay
And we can listen

Oh rainy day, come 'round
Sometimes i just want it to slow down
And we're separated now, i'm down
But i love when you come over to the house
I love it when you come 'round to my house

Which put me in mind of Alastair Darling and the world economy: it is raining right now, and foundations we though were sound are crumbling. Jesus was right - he always is - if we don't build our lives on his words then we are building on sand. I don't know whether Chris Martin here is calling for the rain 'come round to my house' or for company - a bit like the OT prophets who called for God to rend the heavens and come down. We want to see this stuff tested because we're convinced that it's fake, and it's time for something authentic and true. And we also want our own foundations tested, so that God's rain washes away what isn't from him, or the stuff we've convinced ourselves is from Jesus but actually isn't.

Finally, Glass of Water is a modern Ecclesiastes...

Scared of losin' all the time
He wrote it in a letter
He was a friend of mine
He heard you could see your future
Inside a glass of water
With ripples and the rhymes
He asked 'Will I see heaven in mine?'

Oh that is just the way it was,
and nothing could be better,
and nothing ever was.
And they say you can see your future,
inside a glass of water,
with riddles and the rhymes
but 'will I see heaven in mine?’

Son, don't ask,
Neither half full nor empty is your glass
Cling to the mast
Spend your whole life living in the past
Going nowhere fast

So he wrote it on a wall
The hollowest of halos
Is no halo at all
and Televisions selling plastic figurines of leaders
Saying nothing at all
And you chime
Stars in heaven align
Son, don't ask,
neither half full nor empty is your glass
Cling to the mast
Spend your whole life living in the past
Going nowhere fast

What are we drinking when we’re done … just glasses of water.'s probably the combination of fatalism, and the fact that there's nothing you can do about your future (just like chasing the wind). If you spend too long trying to work out the future, whether in a glass of water or in the stars, you'll miss the future God's got for you. And if you hang on to what you've got, you'll definitely get nowhere (shades of Jesus and 'those who hold onto their lives will lose them'?). And as Jesus said, glasses of water are for giving away (Mt 25).

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