Welcome to Coldplaying!

By registering with us, you'll be able to discuss, share and private message with other members of our community.

SignUp Now!

The Viva La Vida (song) meaning thread!

Pseudonym

Why She Loves Me?
Coldplayer
Joined
Apr 1, 2007
Messages
23,185
Maybe it's just symbolism for Chris feeling really down after some of the criticism of X&Y. He actually said that's why he wrote Lost!, isn't it possible the song VLV is just a lot of symbolism for how he felt?

Just suggesting my point of view, but I'm too lazy right now to go line by line explaining, maybe some other day!:D
 

conqueror302

New Coldplayer
Coldplayer
Joined
Sep 29, 2008
Messages
2
Is the song Viva La Vida really about capitalism?

I think the song is about the rise and inevitable fall of capitalism. This was the “wicked wind” that “blow down the doors” and killed the Kings.

“I used to roll the dice”
“Next the walls were closed on me”
“Sweep the streets I used to own”
All these references are about Wall Street.

“Revolutionaries wait, For my head on a silver plate” (Present tense)

“Roman Cavalry choirs are singing” (Present tense)

I think the Roman cavalry singing is a metaphor for the return of the old ways that will come when the world runs out of the resources that fuel this unsastainable consumer culture.

See link

[ame="http://www.amazon.com/Culture-War-KINGS-vs-TRADERS/dp/0595480780/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1222647114&sr=8-9"]Amazon.com: Culture War: KINGS vs. TRADERS: Paul Cortina: Books[/ame]
 

conqueror302

New Coldplayer
Coldplayer
Joined
Sep 29, 2008
Messages
2
Is the song Viva La Vida really about capitalism?

I think the song is about the rise and inevitable fall of capitalism. This was the “wicked wind” that “blow down the doors” and killed the Kings.

“I used to roll the dice”
“Next the walls were closed on me”
“Sweep the streets I used to own”
All these references are about Wall Street.

“Revolutionaries wait, For my head on a silver plate” (Present tense)

“Roman Cavalry choirs are singing” (Present tense)

I think the Roman cavalry singing is a metaphor for the return of the old ways that will come when the world runs out of the resources that fuel this unsastainable consumer culture.

See link

[ame="http://www.amazon.com/Culture-War-KINGS-vs-TRADERS/dp/0595480780/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1222647114&sr=8-9"]Amazon.com: Culture War: KINGS vs. TRADERS: Paul Cortina: Books[/ame]
 

NeSs1776

New Coldplayer
Coldplayer
Joined
Nov 28, 2007
Messages
364
ah! by the way, "viva la vida" means "we like the life" "hooray for life" or simply "like the life!" "love the life"


i'm sure of it.
you know?

what are you talking about do you even speak spanish????


"viva la vida doesnt mean "we like the life" that would be " me gusta la vida"

or hooray for life thats not even a spanish word love the life would be "amo la vida or ama la vida"


VIVA LA VIDA literally means " Live the life" it also can mean " Long live life"


im just saying but i dont mean to insult u!
 

dimtrecs

New Coldplayer
Coldplayer
Joined
Oct 3, 2008
Messages
1
Hey guys, just stating my opinion on the meaning.

Even though the song may have religious references, I don't think it is talking about any religious character. It would be more precise if it did.

I think the band alluded to monarchy or kings from the beginning: "used to rule the world/ seas would rise when i gave the word";"sweep the streets i used to own";"now the old king is dead-long live the king". For me it is quite clear that they are talking about a monarch, although vaguely. Perhaps the reference to control of the seas has to do with British monarchs.

Then, "one minute i held the key/ next the walls were closed on me" could indicate that he/she who had it all, lost it all.

In the refrain, "be my mirror my sword and shield/be my missionaries in a foreign field" again could indicate the power of a king, who employs others to do his bidding.

"Once you know there was never, never an honest word/that was when i ruled the world", means that the character realises that when he had it all, it also meant nothing, life was hollow.

Finally, "I know Saint Peter will call my name/never an honest word/ but that was when i ruled the world", alludes to acceptance into heaven (saint Peter will call my name), despite there never being an honest word, since that was BEFORE.

Generally, i think this song means that even when you think you have it all, life is not so simple, and what gives you power or standing, may not be meaningful (no honest word). Only when you realise this and change your ways, can you achieve happiness (admitted into heaven). Perhaps the band was trying to say with "Viva la Vida" to live life without any misguided preconceptions about power and wealth. Keep it simple. Or something like that.

Anyway, that is just my interpretation. I love this song, because it ties music and poetry: great piece of work!
 

Feynman

New Coldplayer
Coldplayer
Joined
Oct 9, 2008
Messages
1
I think the Jesus imagery is just one facet of the song.

I think that the deeper meaning is a reference to the fickle
nature of power itself.

It moves from place to place over the centuries and never stays
long anywhere.
The Roman Empire was lauded for maintaining secure rule for
~500 years.

Cold Play kicks *** though.
Sometimes I wish they did more heavy stuff but I love the
intricacy and the sophistication of the music...
 

pjrocks7

New Coldplayer
Coldplayer
Joined
Oct 8, 2008
Messages
3
i love this song and now that i think about it the song does have a religious context.
 

seisatsu

New Coldplayer
Coldplayer
Joined
Nov 9, 2008
Messages
2
You've taken bits and pieces of the song, and come to the conclusion that it is a reference to Jesus. However, the song isn't about Jesus at all, but rather about Napoleon. Here is an excellent analysis pulled from Yahoo Answers:

It is a very literal interpretational ballad of Napoleon in the moments before his death in exile. I believe it is on Napoleon because of the Heavy French Classical influence coursing through the song as well as the Album cover, being a French Revolutionary Painting. Who else in France had a shot at ruling the world?

The first three verses are where he recounts his former glory ("Old king is dead, long live the king") when he was going to rule the world, and how he held such power over his enemy. ("I used to rule the world/ Roll the dice") And then he tells of his downfall, when he sees that he cannot rule the world, and how he has become the lowest.("Now in the morning/ sweep the streets I used to own/ the walls were closed on me") Sweeping is a nobody job, so He is saying that he is now a nobody.

The chorus, which varies progressively, is a realization that he sees his own death. (Bells and Choirs would ring and sing, respectively, during a Funeral Procession, in some cases) "Mirror Sword and Shield" could mean that he is awaiting heaven, since the three are very Christian symbols. "Missionaries" is another Christian allusion, but appears to be useless, unless referring to that he is asking that a room in Heaven be prepared for him. "For Some Reason I can't explain, once you go..." appears to be a filler line, since it takes a different meaning later on. "That was when I ruled the world" is just a reprising line that sounds good. It restates that he no longer is glorious, and will die soon.

All the way from "Wicked and Wild wind" to "Oh who would ever want to be king" is a remembrance of his own rise to power and use of it. Also, because the French would Execute using the Guillotine, the "head on a silver plate" line also is an Allusion to Napoleonic France, as well as John the Baptist's death.

The second Chorus is the same, save for the line, "I know saint peter won't call my name". this is Napoleon saying he won't go to heaven since he was a tyrant. Saint Peter calling a name is symbolic of dying and going to Heaven.

There is an instrumental bridge where I suppose you could say Napoleon realizes death is inevitable, and accepts it, while the music becomes stronger.

The final Chorus has the change of "I know Saint peter won't call my name" to "I know Saint Peter WILL call my name" Saying that Napoleon accepts his death. You can imagine Napoleon Closing his eyes at the words "When I ruled the world"

The song ends with a choir singing the main chords in harmony, in a sad, thoughtful fadeout, suggesting Napoleon is dead.
 

conner19957

New Coldplayer
Coldplayer
Joined
Nov 9, 2008
Messages
1
I think your kinda right except for the last part when it says BLEW DOWN THE DOORS TO LET ME IN...i think it mean that when Jesus died he ascended...if Jesus didn't die on the cross for us...there would not be a heaven today....that is why it says blew down the doors and let me in because when he died for us he opened the gates of even hence Blew down the doors...and by opening the gates to heaven he simply let us in
 

seisatsu

New Coldplayer
Coldplayer
Joined
Nov 9, 2008
Messages
2
Jesus certainly wouldn't say "I know Saint Peter won't call my name".

Because, he's Jesus.

Perhaps the most convincing evidence towards the Napoleon theory is the cover art for the album.
 

blil

New Coldplayer
Coldplayer
Joined
Nov 13, 2008
Messages
13
I think it's a general warning to any and all politicians out there that people can turn on you in a heartbeat. And the life of a dethroned/disgraced politician sometimes ain't all that grand.

And even while you're in power you have to deal with lies ("...never an honest word...") and people pulling at you from every direction (...puppet on a string/who would want to be king...?")

It's a sad, yet brilliant song that anyone cnsidering a life of politics should heed.

The first time I heard this song I immediately thought of this monologue from the movie Patton:

"For over a thousand years Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of triumph, a tumultuous parade. In the procession came trumpeteers, musicians and strange animals from conquered territories, together with carts laden with treasure and captured armaments. The conquerors rode in a triumphal chariot, the dazed prisoners walking in chains before him. Sometimes his children robed in white stood with him in the chariot or rode the trace horses. A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting."- Gen. George C. Patton
 

TEHalfScope

New Coldplayer
Coldplayer
Joined
Nov 14, 2008
Messages
1
Yes, everything does fit to be about Jesus Christ...But I was researching it and the whole band said "It's a story about a king who's lost his kingdom, and all the album's artwork is based on the idea of revolutionaries and guerrillas. There's this slightly anti-authoritarian viewpoint that's crept into some of the lyrics and it's some of the payoff between being surrounded by governments on one side, but also we're human beings with emotions and we're all going to die and the stupidity of what we have to put up with every day. Hence the album title."....so if there is a hidden meaning of it being Jesus or some roman king back in the ages then they didn't meantion it....Hope I've helped....
 

someonenew1221

New Coldplayer
Coldplayer
Joined
Nov 17, 2008
Messages
2
I think that this thread is awfully narrow-minded and lacks independence. There's not a single alternative view here, so I'll start.

I believe the song is written about Napoleon Bonaparte's lifetime. I suspected it when I first heard the song, with lots of references to the French Revolution and the Christian references.
The first stanza sounds like Napoleon reminiscing while living out his capture and exile by the British following his magnificent fall from power.

The second stanza, with the idea of Napoleon as subject, they speak of Louis XVI's execution and Napoleon's takeover.

The third stanza discusses Napoleon's peak of power, holding the key to everything as emperor of his Empire. The following lines then go on to describe how Napoleon's Marshals mutinied him at the end of the War of the Sixth Coalition, resulting in his exile and effectively shutting him out of everything he used to own.

The chorus is most certainly a Christian reference, but is in this case a comparison for Napoleon's figurative crucifixion. He did a lot of incredibly beneficial things as ruler (namely, restoring order out of the Revolution and creating the Napoleonic Code), but in the end, people feared his influence far too much and deposed him from a seat of power. Perhaps the chorus is Napoleon reflecting on this thought that he is a Christ-like figure and imagines his own judgment at the end of his days similar to that of Christ’s end (He was a baptized and practicing Catholic), the other European nations like Rome persecuting Christ and his followers. Napoleon’s missionaries as his mirror, sword, and shield would most likely be the remnants of his armies and other supportive revolutionaries. (There was a long period following the reestablishment of the French monarchy that revolutionaries of Napoleon’s republic were still being rooted out, even going so far as rebuilding the city so rebels would no longer be able to barricade themselves in the narrow streets.) These missionaries could do a number of things: testify to his memory, speak of liberty, or advocate a new republic. Take your pick, it all happened.
The second portion of the chorus describes how power is the downfall of such prominent figures. Both Christ and Napoleon had rumors and sinister plots circulating behind their backs at the peak of their lifetime. “Once you go there” is likely saying that when one reaches the height of power, favor can turn to fear and dissent, regardless of how much everyone may seem to like you or how sterling your reputation may be.

Stanza four discusses Napoleon’s swift rise to power through the revolution, which was incredibly violent after Louis XVI was executed. Napoleon brought order to the chaos and many were at his feet for it. But it was that swift rise to power that would bring about his end.

The fifth stanza describes the Royalist revolutionaries that reinstated the monarchy and then had him shut out. For one who restored order out of a revolution, he was being revolted against now. The lonely string for the puppet (king) is the will of society, which all rulers are at the mercy of. Oh who would ever want to be king?

And then the chorus repeats, but with a new second line for the chorus’ second stanza. CRUCIAL MISTAKE on the original poster’s fault is that the “will” should be a “won’t.” Therefore, this song CANNOT be about Christ because I’m fairly certain that God (Christ=God on Earth) can let himself into Heaven again (and on that note, there weren’t any windows to break—4th stanza-- in Jerusalem during Christ’s time). This particular portion is Napoleon doubting that he will even be admitted into Heaven for his dissimilarities with Christ (sins: pride, greed, lying, believing himself to be like God), effectively separating the two views of the prominent figures. For his sins, he may not be rewarded in the same way.

Just an alternative little something to discuss…
 

someonenew1221

New Coldplayer
Coldplayer
Joined
Nov 17, 2008
Messages
2
btw, didn't cop that interpretation from another site. did it all out of personal research. i hate finding interpretations for songs before i create my own.
did some research on Napoleon with my hunch from a first listening and found to my surprise that my first impression was very plausible!
 

Aprophet

Coldplayer
Coldplayer
Joined
Jan 7, 2005
Messages
376
I really can't believe I hadn't seen this before, I just found it and hope it hasn't been posted, this is a video of Anton Corbijn talking about the video.

[media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrbluLIiSpY&feature=related[/media]

From what he says it really was the original video for Enjoy the Silence that inspired this song, so is seems that everyone here has been too narrowminded about it, trying to tie it to a specific historical event. This video also explains why his version (which I personally liked better) wasn't realeased outside of the internet.
 

illuvcoldplay

Chrissylicious
Coldplayer
Joined
Jan 13, 2008
Messages
15,323
Viva La Vida
Live the Life

The song does not necessarily have to be about napoleon or Jesus but rather just a reflection of when you've lived the life and had it all.(money... wealth... power...love)

I think that a very famous celebrity even like Chris would be a good example to use in the song to help with its explination.


I used to rule the world
Seas would rise when I gave the word


Starts out on when he was young ....popular and had it all ... the women, power ,good life... Rule the world signifies having the world at his fingertips.. people admired and respected him ( seas would rise)- you can actually see him walking into a room and all the envious eyes of the crowds who longed to be in his place..... as he demands and holds their attention and admiration and respect
Now in the morning I sleep alone
Sweep the streets I used to own


Now you've lost it all and all the fame and glitz and glamor is gone and you've found yourself alone..... no fame... friends by your side and even the love of your life could have left you
(sweeping the streets I used to own) refers to know walking alone..... a sense of feeling LOST no more friends.... women.... fame and fortune... they've moved on to bigger and better things and left him all alone to pick up the peices
Now that the glitz and glamor has gone everyone is moved on


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!"


Used to roll the dice meaning call the shots ...... could command and demand attention from anyone and everyone in his presence and see the jealousy and fear and even hatred in the eyes of those who longed to be like him or in his place

But now (the old king is dead.).. some one else has stepped up and taken residence on the thrown... there's a new king in town...



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


one minute he had it all and in the wink of an eye its gone... although it might be a long time frame but to him it seems like yesterday when this all happened and now discovers that he's no longer the one in control and
all he has left are nothing more than fading memories or like sands through the hour glass. Pillars of salt and sand because it was bound to end at some time and all he held dear and stood for was built on shallow beliefs which now are worthless
His whole world is just shattering and now tumbling down a and he now see's the price that has to be paid for fame and fortune

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


Chorus means that
the person has accepted their reality and fate and are now at peace with themselves
and with all that has happened and now seeks salvation with St. Peter calling his name and forgiveness for the shallow life he's led along with all of the horrible things that he has done when he was riding high (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

It was a stark cold reality that hit him in the face when he realised what has become of his life and someone more powerful is waiting to take over



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



Ohh who would ever want to be so powerful and popular because look at the price that is paid in the process ... all the while of living the life he was a poppet with si strings being pulled so that he could impress his friends and others and make them happy and be supreme at any cost

But he has seen the error of his words and is seeking salvation and St. Peter would not have called his name back then because he was wicked and bad things he did ...

Now he's found salvation and St. Peter will call his name because he has sought forgiveness and he no longer feels alone... he has God and the Saints, propjets by his side ..................



This is my take on it and how I view the song when I'm listening to it
 
Top