I just got back from a Coldplay concert at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Wow, my sister and I lost our voices. We’re diehard Coldplay fans and ending 2012 with a Coldplay show in our hometown of Brooklyn is the icing on the cake. Therefore, I would like to dedicate the last blog post of 2012 to Coldplay. A band whose music defined not only the past year of my life, but more like the last 12 years. Music is one of the most cherished concoctions of man. I speak in total honesty when I say that I know that I am not the only music-crazed aficionado on the planet; but, I gotta say that I fucking love music! My taste in music is very heterogeneous. It ranges from early hip-hop, R&B, every genre of rock music, especially alternative and indie rock, pop, funk, jazz, disco, folk, country, international, and pretty much any other genre I come across and agree with.
I know many people who would think liking Coldplay shows bad taste in music, and I highly disagree with that. For one, music should be subjective. What makes it beautiful is the unique feeling of comfort and spiritual uplifting that comes to you as you listen to the song. Coldplay makes me feel like that. But with Coldplay it’s more than just my love of their sound and verses. The time in which they arrived on the music scene and released each of their records always had a deep impact on my obsession with their art. I first heard their hit-single Yellow back in 2001 when it played on the radio station 102.7. I was in junior high school at the time. Then, I remember watching the music video for Don’t Panic on MTV and falling in love with Johnny Buckland’s endearing guitar riffs as Chris Martin sang we live in a beautiful .. yeah, we do, yeah, we do. Ah, that song is still one of my all-time favorites from Coldplay.
Then the release of their second album A Rush of Blood to the Head came out when I was dealing with separation from my older siblings due to marriage and going away for college. I was depressed because we were all very close with one another and it was hard for me, as a teenage boy, to get used to being on my own at home, especially since I was very close with my older brother and sister. I didn’t have much friends either at that time, and I know many young people could relate to me (so I hope) with regards to that.
So, I confided for the majority of my teenage years in music, and what a great confidant that was! Yes, you can say that Coldplay’s music is at times mellow and slow, but so was I. The Scientist reminded me of how lonely I was feeling because of not having my siblings with me as often as I hoped for. Clocks resonated with the way I felt about myself, conflicted with confusion and doubt, as well the great feeling I had listening to it on my CD player as I roamed the streets of downtown Brooklyn and Manhattan at night. In My Place brought to life the feelings I had for one of my biggest teenage crushes. One that I would always tell my friends about and say that I’ll wait for her no matter how long it takes. Yeah, the moment I had lunch with her I changed my mind, but still. The song was able to capture my emotions.
Warning Sign always came to mind throughout high school after I’d meet a girl who was interested in me but neglected them because of my idiotic tendencies to act uninterested with girls I really liked inside. Then there’s Politik. Oh, it’s such a meaningful song. The chord progression is simple, and full of tenderness, yet so bitter. The lyrics about choosing love over this, signifying that man is better off choosing the path of love over it’s current state of utter confusion and misery. Chris Martin’s remarkable falsetto always had me begging for more. That soft and tender voice could unexpectedly change into high and low pitches at any given moment and still make an awe-inspiring delivery.
Coldplay’s 2005 album X & Y is still till this day one of my most beloved records. From mid 2005 to mid 2006, when this album was at it’s peak of recognition, I was going through a change from being constantly melancholic to austerely obnoxious, yet at times, optimistic. I started going out with girls and trying to enjoy being a teenager. The album’s first single Speed of Sound brought back Coldplay’s tenacious piano riff, reminiscent of Clocks. I liked that song because Martin’s lyrics had a tint of spirituality and optimism that I felt I needed to embrace after years of bipolar sadness. Fix You, the following single, was august. The use of the piano organ mixed with Johnny’s acoustic and electric guitar, Guy’s contralto bass lines, and Will’s gut-busting drumbeats makes Fix You one of the 21st century’s great rock anthems. Not to mention the amount of positive emotions it brings while listening to it.
To top it all off X & Y‘s third single, Talk, took it’s main riff from the German 1980s electronic music group Kraftwerk’s Computer Love. But it matches the essence of the song very well. The lyrics about being lost an incomplete reminded me of my days of self-imposed loneliness. It also served as a great anthem for New Years, being futuristic and all. Listening to that song is thrilling and sentimental, and that is why it’s on my list of Coldplay faves. The list is very long by the way, but can you blame me?
Coldplay did take a long break from the music scene, and didn’t reappear until the late Spring of 2008 with the release of their best hit to date Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends. Who can’t remember Viva La Vida?! The songs semi-romanticist and biblical flavor steered Coldplay in a direction much different from that of their last three albums, which are categorize as a trilogy. Viva La Vida was less melancholic and gloomy. If you’re more into the arts and find the idea of strolling through the streets of London and Paris on either a sunny or rainy day, then Viva La Vida definitely spoke to you. After taking two years off from listening to Coldplay, and a nearly forgetting that they even existed, I was once more put under a spell by their enchanting music.
During this time I was a freshman at Hunter College. Involved with political campaigns for the Obama camp, remember it was 2008, and everyone was excited to see a black president win, I was trying my best to become a member of the intellectual community. Viva La Vida, an album Chris Martin describes as revolution-inspired and new wave, correlated with the changes I was forgoing my life. I was now a college student. Independent in thought. Firm in my religious and political beliefs. Revolutionary in my love for life and all things art. I broke away from my past and created a new present, and soon to be future. I’d write about some of the most notable songs on the album, but to be honest I like every single song from Viva La Vida. I’m not even joking. The album in an of itself is a work of art. From Life in Technicolor all the way through Death and all his Friends I refused to stop listening.
It’s funny. I had just bought the new iPhone 3G in September 2008 and remember putting the entire album on it. One day after getting out of class my sister asked me to go visit her at her West-side apartment on 108th street and Central Park west. I decided to walk from 68th street and Lexington avenue through Central Park all the way to her house while listening to the entire Viva La Vida album. I even walked slow and took a longer route to ensure that I’d be able to complete the entire album before arriving at my sister’s place. After completing the listen I was totally blown away. There was not one flaw, in my humble opinion, in that album. I couldn’t explain it. It was perfect. My definition of a perfect album. Maybe I’m just an idiot and didn’t know music as well as I thought. Regardless of the fact, I went through a brand new phase of Coldplay addiction from September of 2008 to February of 2009. In those six months I spent most of my time listening to Coldplay, when I listened to music of course. I did have a life.
I became somewhat of a rock-fiend too. I started going back to all the phases of rock music, from the 1960s on. Being a lover of eighteenth and nineteenth century art, literature, fashion, and temperament, I took Coldplay’s new album to be as a soundtrack to my fascination with that era. It showed through my writings, poems, and dress. I even grew my hair long. It was a fun time. When I look back to 2008 I have plenty of fond memories. Especially the time when I got into the guitar and started teaching myself how to play and write music. That totally changed my life. It was at this time that I realized I loved to write more than ever and had to do something about it. So, I joined my college’s newspaper and began writing articles, mostly opt-eds on politics, culture, and music. Then I began composing my first works of poetry, which were heavily influenced by the works of Edgar Allan Poe.
I’m not saying that Coldplay is wholly responsible for the changes that I underwent, but since music was a vital part of my life it served as the background music, or better yet, a soundtrack. However, life goes on and people change. After going through what I believed what a short period of spiritual-loss and moral depravity I looked to religion. I became a devout Muslim and gave up music. I grew my beard, rolled up my pants, and spent the majority of my time seeking divine knowledge. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. It taught me discipline, which was something I severely lacked. When I desired something I sought after it and didn’t rest till I had it, regardless of how good or bad it was.
My religious phase, as I like to call it lasted from about March 2009 to December 2010. Though it seems like such a short time, all of it was dedicated to religious and spiritual training. Which meant no sex, no time for pretend, and no music! Not that Islam teaches suppression and is distasteful of man’s basic needs, but it was becoming to overbearing on me. I began a new relapse of my self-imposed solitude and depression. During the time I only socialized with Muslim males, harder than it sounds, because when you take away women from my life it becomes shit. Women always had a way of making me feel jolly. Wonder what it is. Hmm?
Anyway, this is a secret I only told a few people. I may have cut out music from my life at this time but I never let go of Coldplay. Every here and there I would create a playlist on my iPhone of Coldplay songs. It would include their entire discography plus EPs, rarities, and live or acoustic versions. Yes, I know, it’s a goddamn obsession. Chris Martin is probably reading this now thinking, “shit, this guy is a bloody nimrod,” or weird type of shit a British bloak would say. I don’t know. But whenever I listened to Coldplay I would feel happier and my moods would be uplifted. So, I began to consider Coldplay to myself as religious music, which in Islam is an oxy-moron, because music is forbidden, and my music I mean instruments. It was very clear that when it came to music and the position of women and sex in Islam my personal views differed from that of my religion. Albeit, I still took my religion to be correct over those matters. Instead, I just saw myself as a deviant, which didn’t really bother me that much.
As time passed I began growing tired of being religious. It wasn’t getting me where I thought it was suppose to bring me. I was bored. Getting no action or stimulation. Depressed about hearing all the shit on how music is haram (forbidden), and desperately needed to get laid. Then came 2011. The year of revolution. While people in the Middle East rebelled against their tyrannical governments so did I protest an eventually overthrow the suppressive conscience that plagued my soul from happiness and any real chance of growth. I began to insert myself into society once again. Entering the arena and looking for new conquests, girls in particular. I found many girls and talked to many different ones at the same time. But then came someone who I can’t mention by name because I don’t want to mess with her integrity or privacy. For the sake of the story let’s call her Robin.
The moment Robin came into my life everything changed. I met her at a Muslim Youth group in Brooklyn during the late spring of 2011. We clicked immediately. Life between us was well, and I was also employed. I can’t say that I wasn’t religious, but I definitely cut back on plenty of things, like the beard, relationships, and most importantly music. In the midst of a new relationship I started hearing jingling bells. What? Wait, what? COLDPLAY! They’re back! Those sons of bitches!!! And then there was Mylo Xyloto. The best part is that like me, my new girlfriend was a big Coldplay fan. She wasn’t as obsessed as I was, but she liked them enough for me to be satisfied. Robin and I would stay up many nights singing Coldplay songs to each other.
When Every Teardrop is a Waterfall was released as their newest single off the soon to be released Mylo Xyloto album I had to say that initially I was not impressed. I thought that Coldplay somehow lost a bit of their magic, especially in comparison to Viva La Vida, but my mind changed once the album was released and I had the chance to analyze it in it’s entirety. By the time it was released on October 24, 2011 I was broken up with Robin and totally torn to smithereens. Depressed and heartbroken I needed something to fall back on. So the day Coldplay’s fifth album was released I got it online and listened to it in one shot on a train ride home from New Jersey. As a matter of fact, I forgot to mention that I watched Coldplay perform on the Today Show a couple of days prior to that. It was pretty fun, but not nearly as fun as tonight’s concert was.
Anyway, Mylo Xyloto, like all of Coldplay’s other albums, spoke to me and the current state of depression and disarray I was in. But fortunately it was short-lived. The depression lasted for only one week in September and in no time I was back on my feet ready to rock. And rock I did. I went on a quest. The mission was to live my life to the fullest and have as much fun as possible. With my new job as a doorman I was able to make a good amount of dough and use it for partying weekly. I drank lots of alcohol, did my fair share of drugs, banged a great deal of women, and didn’t stop till I got enough. This was the first time that I was in a phase of listening mostly to Coldplay but not feeling spiritually uplifted. I don’t feel that it was because their new album was negative or a bad influence on me. I was going through internal strife and a crude awakening.
After spending most of my years doing what I believed was the right thing I needed to see what it felt doing the wrong thing. So, I tried. I induldged. I lived. Young, wild, and free. I glowed in the dark. Charlie Brown, the third single and my favorite track from Mylo Xyloto, really connected with me. It had a modern pop and techno touch to it which related to me since I went clubbing quite often in late 2011 and early 2012. But the song’s lyrics about being a cartoon heart and lighting a fire flame reminded me of my childhood and the fun days of growing up in the streets of Brooklyn during the 90s. I learned to love Every Teardrop is a Waterfall, especially after my devastating breakup. I needed another optimistic Coldplay song to make me feel better. I love the song’s upbeat tempo as well as Chris’ melodic chanting towards the end of the song. Nearly brought me to tears.
Major Minus was another one of their good tracks from the album. The idea of fighting and fleeing from an oppressive dictator is something we could all relate to. Whether it’s from our government, society, family, religion, or even ourselves. The song also showed me that Coldplay didn’t forget how to mix elements of distorted electric guitar-dominated rock to a rough progression of acoustic chords and throbbing bass lines. Very catchy. Princess of China was interesting. Rihanna has a way of seducing humanity into falling in love with her. Not only is she outstandingly sexy, but her voice is sorcerous! I loved her vocals on this track. It was very techno in an Asian way to put it simply, but it worked.
The lines, you really hurt me, really hurt me, because I was hurt by my last girlfriend. It was fucked up, but when I listened to Up In Flames I found that the two songs were related to the other. Someone has their heart broken, then everything goes up in flames because it’s over.So what do you do when something’s on fire? You pour some water on it, as Chris Martin sings. Genius. Though Mylo Xyloto is my least favorite of their five albums, I still love it. And there you have it. I pretty much just summed up my life through Coldplay from the time they came out up until recent months.
I know this was not a poetry post, but I felt the need to write about Coldplay and add some facts about my life into it so that people may see the ways we could use music, or any form of art for that matter, to make sense of our lives and see things in a better light. I hope this post was insightful, thought-provoking, and fun to read. It was very long. I don’t ever plan to write posts this long. Sorry about that. People have short attention spans and don’t have the patience to read. That’s why I hope you found it interesting.
Until next time
Happy New Years to all!
12/31/2012 5:00 AM, Brooklyn, New York, USA