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!

luchica

New Coldplayer
Coldplayer
Joined
Jan 14, 2009
Messages
2
I agree with the escapist that the song has to do with Jesus Christ from a Catholic perspective. I drew the conclusion from the following excerpt which I read in wikipedia:


Coldplay took a break from recording and toured Latin America in early 2007, including shows in Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico. The band revealed that the album [Viva la Vida or Death and All his Friends] seemed to be shaping up with Hispanic influences, after having recorded in churches and other areas in Latin America and Spain during their tour.



The predominant religion in Latin America and Spain is Catholicism. Coldplay also mentions recording in churches which I am fairly certain were Catholic churches. In addition, the name of the song is in Spanish which is the predominant language in all of these countries except Brazil. Viva la Vida to me is a reference to Jesus Christ rising from the dead - long live life indeed. I think that if the song was about Napoleon, it wouldn't have so many Biblical allusions and the title would be in French. And even though Coldplay stated that the song is about a king losing his kingdom, I don't buy that. Of course they wouldn't admit the song is about Jesus or has religious undertones for fear that it would alienate a segment of their fan base. There could also be another marketing reason behind hiding the real meaning of the song.

The reference to Saint Peter is a Catholic allusion, given that Christians from other religions do not believe in saints like Catholics do. I also think that Ricardo was right on when he said that "For some reason I can't explain/I know Saint Peter won't call my name" is a reference to Peter denying Jesus 3 times. Listening to the song and researching the lyrics, I did not find a line that says "I know Saint Peter will call my name."

The line "Now in the morning I sleep alone" I think is actually ironic because while Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane (during His agony), He asked a few of the apostles to stay awake and pray with Him, but they all fell asleep. So now in the morning hours before He was betrayed, He "slept" alone; He was alone because He was the only one awake and His apostles had no idea of the betrayal and suffering that were in store for Him and which He alone would endure. After Jesus was betrayed by Judas and was abandoned by the apostles (they fled when the Roman soldiers came for Him), His fate was decided when the people shouted for Barabbas to be freed and for Him to be crucified. Then He swept -walked the streets dragging a cross in a crimson robe- the streets He used to own.

The "Long Live the King" is an allusion to Jesus entering Jerusalem triumphantly on a donkey; a great multitude had gathered and laid down either their garments or palm fronds along the way. The enemy in the previous line "Feel the fear in my enemy's eyes" probably refers to the Jewish religious leaders who saw Jesus' triumphant entrance as a threat to their power. They felt threatened that so many believed Him to be the Messiah.

The lines "One minute I held the key/Next the walls were closed on me" have to do with Jesus' ministry and the end of it with His death and burial. Jesus held the key when He roamed the countryside preaching and performing miracles - people saw Him as the Messiah. The walls closed in on Him when He was buried in the tomb offered by Joseph of Arimethaea - a great stone was rolled to the aperture and Roman soldiers guarded the entrance. The line "And I discovered that my castles stand/Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand" can have a number of meanings. His castles stand upon pillars of salt and sand because His kingdom, as Jesus states, is not of this world. The cross on which Jesus was crucified had written on it "King of the Jews," but that king was crucified and therefore that kingdom could not stand. I also find the line to be ironic in that it could be a reference to when Jesus said to Peter: I for my part declare to you, you are 'Rock,' and on this rock I will build my church. So the castles are really a reference to the church and the pillars of salt and sand really refer to the Rock on which Jesus was to build His church (Saint Peter was the first pope) since Jesus knew that His kingdom was not an earthly one but a heavenly one and would not manifest itself via castles but through a church.

The chorus "Jerusalem bells and Roman Calvary" has to do with the Jewish religious leaders and the Roman soldiers (who caused Jesus further agony with a scourging, a crown of thorns, and taunting) feeling triumphant over Jesus' death. The next two lines "Be my mirror, my sword and shield/My missionaries in a foreign field" are a call for His apostles and other believers to spread His message, to be His missionaries by reflecting His teachings and fighting for His heavenly kingdom.

The next part of the chorus:
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

highlights what can happen when the Shepherd leaves the flock and calls on others to tend to them. The line "Once you go there was never/Never an honest word" perhaps refers to the way the Catholic doctrine has handled His teachings, that the missionaries that were called upon to be His mirror, sword and shield have used lies, dishonesty, and other immoral methods to convert others.

The lines that include "wicked and wild wind" are probably a reference to the cleansing of the temple. In the Gospel of John, he describes the cleansing of the temple in the following manner:

And He found men in the
temple area who were selling cattle and sheep and
doves, and also the moneychangers who were doing
business. So He fashioned a whip out of cords, and
went into the temple and drove out the cattle and the
sheep, and he overturned the tables of the money
changers and He scattered their coins. And He went
up to those who were selling doves and said to them,
"Get these things out of here! How dare you turn My
Father's house into a marketplace!" Then His disciples
remembered what was written in the Scriptures,
"Zeal for Your house will consume me."

Thus, the lines "It was the wicked and wild wind" through "People couldn't believe what I'd become" refer to Jesus storming the temple, blowing down the doors and the disbelief some might have gone through in seeing Him in a rage and hearing Him shouting those words.

I agree with the person who wrote that the lines about the "head on a silver plate" are a reference to John the Baptist. He was ordered beheaded by king Herod at the request of Salome; Herod had promised her anything she asked for, even up to half of his kingdom.
The lines "Just a puppet on a lonely string/Oh who would ever want to be king?" again reflect Jesus' agony in the garden of Gethsemane. He is a puppet and God is the puppet master. The word "lonely" again reminds us that He alone will atone for the sins of man. The line stating "Oh who would ever want to be king?" are resonant of the words Jesus spoke when He asked His father to take this cup from Him - He would prefer not to go through all the suffering He knew was in store for Him. But in the end, Jesus (the puppet) does His father's bidding: Yet not my will but yours be done. Therefore, the references to the agony in the garden of Gethsemane bring the song full circle.

Finally, the chorus -Jerusalem bells and the Roman Cavalry choirs- is repeated 3 times and Jesus is said to have died at 3pm. And so the bells are ringing and choirs are singing to celebrate His death.
 

speedofsound95

New Coldplayer
Coldplayer
Joined
Nov 17, 2008
Messages
126
But If they are talking about Luis XIV (or XVII) The one who was the France's king when the french revolution??
'cuz it says:
Revolutionaries wait
For my head on a silver plate
Just a puppet on a lonely string
Oh who would ever wanna be king?
 

tripleplay

New Coldplayer
Coldplayer
Joined
Feb 23, 2009
Messages
1
I won´t go that far as to conclude that this song is about Jesus, but I´m hard pressed to believe that some strong allegories to Jesus in this song are simple coincidence. The same goes for the red "V" in the shirt Chris Martin is wearing in the video, wich is located on one side, just like Jesus´s wound. The extended arms, his hand signs... etc. Not to mean these guys are evangelizing, guess they are just coldplaying.
 

RazrRain

New Coldplayer
Coldplayer
Joined
Mar 1, 2009
Messages
1
You are all right, yet you are all wrong.

This post is pretty old...I just wanted to state my opinion real quick.

The song, to me, could mean about anything.
If I were to pin it down to a historical reference, I would choose Napolean because the cover is about the French Revolution.

The song could mean that once upon a time, you ruled the world. Not really ruled it, but you know, a lot of people looked up to you.
Seas would rise when I gave the word.
I reference this line to people.
But then the great life went down hill, the end.

Goodness, wouldn't it be easier if Coldplay just posted what the song was about?
 
H

howyousawtheworld

Guest
The meaning Viva La Vida is as most of us know Live the life in spanish. The song is saying live your life, just not in the way this ruler/dictator did in the song.
 

mygdalom

ghost mode
Coldplayer
Joined
Jun 24, 2008
Messages
417
yup , I think that this song its about life. Power its not so important (Oh who would ever wanna be king), without it you still can have all you want.
 

Jarod Proulx

New Coldplayer
Coldplayer
Joined
Mar 2, 2009
Messages
11
Hail to life ! I'm so exciting to watch them live for the first time this summer !!
 

illuvcoldplay

Chrissylicious
Coldplayer
Joined
Jan 13, 2008
Messages
15,323
As I said before this song is not about Jesus or Napoleon but about life and can be applied to anyone.

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
I know that all of us at some point in time can relate to this happening to them..... in some way whether it be a relationship.... a job.... a friendship


so just live the life who would ever wanna be a king.... up there so high and mighty never getting to enjoy the small and good parts of life....
 

Syn

New Coldplayer
Coldplayer
Joined
Apr 26, 2009
Messages
15
^ exactly

Viva la Vida stands for long live life. `Life is meant to be lived.`
 

Macintosh

Through the glory of life
Coldplayer
Joined
Sep 18, 2008
Messages
2,151
Song cast to Chris thoughts during reading (he reads in the plane much).. A song about Napoleon... A song in which group with even more force show their size of their stale and cosmopolitism... The song which turns us faced to a life in the best it meaning! VIVA!!!


-------------***---------------
Let me in on Wembley 19/09/09!
-------------***---------------
 

AprilNguyen

New Coldplayer
Coldplayer
Joined
May 25, 2009
Messages
21
It was really a difficulty for me to understand this song. Maybe it because I hardly know a thing about Catholicism.
But now, I can get it. Understanding the lyrics makes me realize this song more adorable :D.
 

The Shining Wizard

Lost in Poppyfields
Coldplayer
Joined
Jun 11, 2009
Messages
16
BTW, just thought I should post this here.. These are the official lyrics from Coldplay.com:

I used to rule the world
Seas would rise when I gave the word
Now in the morning I sleep alone
Sweep the streets I used to own

I used to roll the dice
Feel the fear in my enemy's eyes
Listened as the crowd would sing
Now the old king is dead long live the king
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

I hear Jerusalem bells a-ringing
Roman cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror, my sword and shield
Missionaries in a foreign field
For some reason I can't explain
Once you'd gone there was never
Never an honest word
And that was when I ruled the world

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

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
I know St Peter won't call my name
Never an honest word
But that was when I ruled the world

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
I know St Peter won't call my name
Never an honest word
But that was when I ruled the world
 

Tyggna

New Coldplayer
Coldplayer
Joined
Jun 26, 2009
Messages
1
What seems to make sense

I don't think this is referring to Jesus Christ--I think it's referring to Constantine, the first "Christian" Roman emperor.

Here's why: Constantine had a desire to visit Jerusalem and be baptized in the River Jordan, but put it off in order to be absolved from as much sin as possible. He didn't make it.

That accounts for a large portion of the chorus:

"I hear Jerusalem bells a-ringing"
He wanted to visit the Jerusalem area--it was his dying wish

"Roman cavalry choirs are singing"
He had been a great military leader--and most of his troops remained loyal to him for life.

"Be my mirror, my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field"
Constantine proclaimed religious tolerance, and founded the "Christian Byzantine Empire," which later split into the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. He did a lot to spread Christianity.

"For some reason I can't explain
I know St Peter won't call my name
Never an honest word
But that was when I ruled the world"

He wasn't baptized as he wanted and as he felt he needed. He also lived a very violent life full of military campaigns, and even in times of peace he had to play the role of a traditional roman politician (which meant appease everyone by lying or get killed).

"It was a 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"
The rulers before Constantine had a policy of religious oppression towards Christianity (this is where modern Christians get the fish symbol, as the ancient Christians used that to identify fellow members of the faith without revealing themselves to the Roman regime). Being Christian before Constantine meant you either rebelled against the government openly, or lived a very secretive life. Hence, from Constantine's view, when the Roman people refused to acknowledge Diocletian's rule and showed seeds of rebellion--his rise to power was made possible by wicked people and the ever shifting political landscape of Rome.
The last line probably refers to Constantine's abolishment of the Tetrachy (a four-sided military governing regime).

Constantine also put down two very large rebellions and three civil wars, hence:
"Revolutionaries wait
For my head on a silver plate"

Not to mention the name of the song is Latin--the language spoken at Constantine's time (Christ would have spoken Aramaic, Hebrew, or Greek).

So, there you go, I don't rightly know how to explain the first lines, other than a "could be" Constantine's last thoughts, since he died in a suburb of Rome before he could make it back to the palace.
 

mygdalom

ghost mode
Coldplayer
Joined
Jun 24, 2008
Messages
417
Tyyga, its just a song.
And 'Viva la vida' is spanish (a latin language,yes) but not latin.
 

Matttttthew

New Coldplayer
Coldplayer
Joined
Sep 17, 2009
Messages
1
I disagree, no songs are just... Songs.

All songs have an inner meaning, no matter how simple. But thats just my opinion.
 

The Final Track

Prognissekongen!
Coldplayer
Joined
Aug 27, 2009
Messages
17,125
I really doubt that Viva is about Jesus, that is frankly ridicolous. It has some resemblance to the story of Napoleon, but in the end it feels like life. Greed and power will always come over love.
 

ellendianelopo

Bucklander/:jonnyhug:
Coldplayer
Joined
Nov 24, 2009
Messages
4,954
:DHi! well just found this thread...and when I saw it I thought: It was the same thing I Ithought the first time I heard VLV! It's about Jesus! well I've read the bible a lot of times and this is about him....^^ and also Chris has this kind of references cuz his family is Cristian...that's why I love this song so much!:D
 

The Final Track

Prognissekongen!
Coldplayer
Joined
Aug 27, 2009
Messages
17,125
:DHi! well just found this thread...and when I saw it I thought: It was the same thing I Ithought the first time I heard VLV! It's about Jesus! well I've read the bible a lot of times and this is about him....^^ and also Chris has this kind of references cuz his family is Cristian...that's why I love this song so much!:D
:rolleyes:
 
Top