52% intelligent. 9% modest. More monkey than bear.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

but my heart is open, my heart is open to you

You may be aware that the new Coldplay album - X&Y - is being released on Monday. This is a pretty big deal. This is going to be one of the biggest releases of the year. Their last album, 'A Rush of Blood to the Head', has sold something in excess of 10m copies and won the band a whole heap of critical praise and awards (including a Grammy). Their record company are depending on them: the new album was originally scheduled for an earlier release date, and its delay was cited as one of the reasons why EMI announced a profit warning to the Stock Exchange back in February.

No pressure then.

Like many people, I first really became aware of Coldplay when 'Yellow' began to take off. Their debut album, 'Parachutes', came out in July 2000, although I didn't buy it until 2nd October 2000. I can pinpoint the date exactly because I popped into a Virgin Megastore as I walked into work to pick up a copy of 'Kid A' by Radiohead on its day of release, and picked up the Coldplay album at the same time, mainly because 'Yellow' had been earworming me for weeks and weeks.

Do I need to tell you which of those two albums I have listened to the most?

When Coldplay were named as the headliners for the Friday night of Glastonbury in June 2002, many people were sceptical: their new album was still a couple of months away from release, and many people thought that they simply weren't big enough. I was lucky enough to be there, and from the moment they came onto the Pyramid stage in total darkness and launched into 'Politik', I was completely captivated. As is often the case with these moments, it wasn't until I heard it replayed on the radio when I got home that I fully appreciated quite how magical the whole show had been. The crowd singalong to 'Yellow' raised the hairs on the back of my neck (and I'm sure it will when they play the festival this year as well)

That was it - I was hooked. I counted down the days until the release of the album in August, eagerly logging onto the Coldplay website as they previewed a new track every day. I saw them play live again at the Nottingham Arena in October 2002, and they were magnificent all over again. The CD hasn't left my car since, and it's a fixture on my 'most played tracks' listing on iTunes.

Apart from the single, 'Speed of Sound', I haven't heard much of the new album at all, and I can't wait until I get my hands on it on Monday morning. I'll probably stop somewhere on the way to work to pick it up, and then I'll try to plug myself into a pair of headphones and shut out the office for a while to give it a good listen.

I want to say this before I hear the new album, and before I get excited all over again. Without a shadow of a doubt, Coldplay are my favourite band in the whole world; I have connected with them in a way that I haven't connected with any artist since Morrissey.

I'm not sure what it is about them that strikes such a chord with me. Maybe part of it is because I share a similar background to Chris Martin - public school education, bit shy, losing my hair, late-starter with girls, prone to a bit of insecurity....that kind of thing. He's proper famous now, of course, has pots of money, an Oscar winning wife and a little baby girl with a mildly silly name, but he still doesn't seem entirely comfortable in his own skin, and I can relate to that.

Alan McGhee, the founder of Creation Records and the man who signed Oasis, famously described Coldplay as producing "music for bedwetters", and the funny thing is that I can see what he means. It is a bit sappy, isn't it? Lots of piano, lots of questioning lyrics about the meaning of life and unrequited loves. Still, if the alternative is overly long, derivative dirges and ape-like posturing, then I'll take the bedwetters every time. Coldplay say so much more to me about my life than Oasis ever have.

Even when I'm not sure what Chris Martin is singing about, it touches me. So much yearning. So much wondering.... and amidst the wreckage of our lives, and the mess we've made of the world we live in - so much hope:

And we live in a beautiful world,
Yeah we do, yeah we do,
We live in a beautiful world.

Oh, all that I know,
There's nothing here to run from,
Cos yeah, everybody here's got somebody to lean on.



  • At 8:04 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Like almost everyone else, I got into Coldplay through hearing Parachutes. Unlike most people, it wasn't through "Yellow" - a mate of mine had the album and I immediately fell in love with "Spies". The Ex and I then bought the album for ourselves and I fell in love with every song on the album. It's one of those albums where I have trouble picking one song as a favourite - a bit like Mercury Rev's All Is Dream.

    When they toured here and played Brisbane's Festival Hall, there was no way I was missing that gig. I was a fan. Pure and simple. Knowing every note of every song but having only seen the members of the band in their filmclips, I was surprised by the energy of Chris Martin live - he jumped all over the stage, but I'd expected him to be a stand and sing type. It was a good surprise.

    I've never got into A Rush of Blood to the Head in the same way that I got into Parachutes. There are songs on there that I don't particularly like, and I definitely have favourites.

    But I'll still buy the new one when it comes out. Fandom is relative after all! ;o)

    As for what strikes a chord with me about them... well, I think it's the combination of evocative lyrics and Chris' soaring voice. Their songs have that ability to change my mood which always signals a favourite for me.

    - OLS

  • At 8:43 am, Blogger LB said…

    my favourite type of music has always been, and will always be "tuneful melancholy" which is I think a great description for most of Coldplay's songs.

    When I broke my arm in July 2002 I spent ten weeks being unable to drive and so I walked everywhere I went. I can vividly remember walking four miles to my local record store the day that "A Rush Of Blood To The Head" came out to buy it, and then spending the next few weeks listening to it almost exclusively.

    they are *brilliant*. Sad but hopeful songs, a lot of which have struck a chord particularly with me over the last couple of months. "The Scientist", or "Warning Sign" or "Everything's Not Lost" - ideal company in difficult times.

  • At 11:07 am, Blogger Mark said…

    "The Scientist" is one of the best songs ever written.

    My interpretation is that it's about a logical, scientific person who has a life ordered and controlled, and is then thrown adrift by love. And he tries to put his life back together when this love falters. And he can't.

  • At 7:15 pm, Blogger Erika said…

    I was living in Scotland and a rabid Travis fan when Coldplay released "Yellow" and so, unfortunately, have been hardcore biased AGAINST liking them. I can't remember what exactly the boys of Travis called the boys of Coldplay, but it wasn't pretty.

  • At 9:58 pm, Blogger HistoryGeek said…

    I'm new to Coldplay, but I love what I've heard of them. I haven't seen them because, apparently, you needed to be willing to dish out sexual favors for the tickets for the show here in the Bay Area. (It sold out fast and scalpers were asking astronomical prices.)

  • At 11:23 pm, Blogger Mark said…

    "Yellow" has rubbish lyrics mind you.

  • At 12:09 am, Blogger Flash said…

    Count me in for the Coldplay appreciation society.
    "Shiver" was the one to hook me & still remains a firm favourite. It wasn't until "A rush of blood to the head" that I really realised that they were a truly important & special band. "the scientist" is quite simply one of the best records ever (& it has a deep personal meaning to me, which only ever adds to a song's value).
    I am very giddy about Monday especially as the White Stripes new album comes out too!
    Hurrah for June the 6th!

  • At 11:46 am, Blogger Damo said…

    Of the two, I'm more excited about the new White Stripes album, although I'll be buying both.

    I like Coldplay a lot and will be seeing them at Glastonbury... but I've never quite worked out how they can be anyone's favourite band. They don't seem 'favourite band' material... to me at least.

    Having said that, if any band is going to be 'all conquering', why not them? It could have been something so much worse. For a while, I worried that it might be Limp Bizkit, although last time I checked even Limp Bizkit fans no longer cared about Limp Bizkit.

  • At 8:01 am, Blogger Charlie said…

    I've always run very hot and cold on Coldplay--sometimes, I feel like it's gorgeous and oh-so-appropriate for any mood, other times I feel like I'm draped in a wet blanket when I hear them.

    Your descriptions of how you connect with them remind me of how I connect with Mike Doughty, though--so much hopeful melancholy.


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