Saturday, May 03, 2014

Coldplay - holy Ghost Stories?

As a gift to us armchair analysts, Coldplay have made the lyrics to their new release, Ghost Storiesavailable a few weeks in advance of the tracks themselves. I've previously had a go at deciphering Chris Martins coded messages, given his ongoing interest in things spiritual.

The lyrics by and large reflect the artwork: a pair of wings in the shape of a broken heart. Several of the songs are about lost love (Anothers Arms, Ink, True Love), and Martin returns to his beloved sky/birds/flight imagery which Coldplay fans will be used to by now.

Spiritually, I wasn't sure what to expect after Coldplays involvement in the neopagan Paralympic closing ceremony. A couple of songs jump out -

"In the darkness before the dawn
in the swirling of the storm
when I'm rolling with the punches and hope is gone
leave a light, a light on.

Millions of miles from home
in the swirling swimming on
when I'm rolling with the thunder
but bleed from thorns
leave a light, a light on. 
leave a light, a light on."

This was the first track released from the new album, to a mixture of excitement and dismay. It's certainly a musical departure for them. The more I look at the lyrics, the more I think of Gesthemane. This could be just about being lost, suffering and lonely, or it could be about 1 person in particular taking all that on himself on our behalf.

I've been listening to The Choirs 'Shadow Weaver' a lot recently, they have lots of songs about finding God in suffering, and here's another one, perhaps:

A Sky Full of Stars
Cause you're a Sky, cause you're a Sky full of Stars
I'm gonna give you my heart
You're a Sky, a Sky full of Stars
cause you light up the path
And I don't care, go on and tear me apart ('yet not my will, but your will be done')
I don't care if you do
Cause in a Sky, cause in a Sky full of Stars, I think I saw you...

...Cause you're a Sky, you're a Sky full of Stars
Such a Heavenly View
You're such a Heavenly View

now it might be that, as on Mylo Xyloto, the words are used for feel/impact rather than meaning, and this is just another step on the descent into vagueness. Or maybe it's trying to find a way of talking about God that doesn't trip people up with the G-word. Why all those capital letters? It's the sort of song a Christian should be singing to God, and probably more real than a lot of our worship songs.

Finally, the closing track O (fly on), takes us up with the birds again:
And I always
look up to the Sky (note the capital letter)
Pray before the Dawn. (or does he just capitalise all the nouns?)

and combines this with a sense of being lost, and of yearning for better things.

Maybe it shouldn't seem so odd that a rich, succesful and famous band should sing so much about the intersection of pain and prayer, as they do here, and in last years release Atlas. None of us are immune. God's there in it if you look hard enough and don't give up, and perhaps he's somewhere in these lyrics too.

Martin has spoken about what the lyrics express, and speaks both about brokenness and love. It's interesting to note that he's in regular touch with Bono, who seems to become more and more overt about his faith as time goes on. Martin talks about 'trusting the universe' - I don't know if that's code, or whether it just reflects the language of many people who have a spiritual sense but don't connect it with the God who put it there in the first place.

Previous reviews
Mylo Xyloto
Prospekts March
Viva La Vida


  1. It's all your fault, David. If you hadn't posted about Coldplay way back, I'd've never've got into them. Have added Ghost Stories to my wish list...

  2. Sorry Phil, and I bet you keep getting mistaken for the drummer too ;-)