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From Coachella:


Music for the greater good

For Coldplay singer Chris Martin, there’s more to life than chart-toppers


Our goal is to take over from U2," Coldplay's Chris Martin said during lunch in a funky beachfront restaurant in Malibu. The comment was so audacious that he quickly moved to put it in context.


"I don't mean 'take over' in a commercial sense or careerist sense, but in writing songs that move people in a big way. When I'm in a crowd of thousands of people singing a song I love, I get the best feeling — a sense of genuine community."


One of the most promising prospects of this weekend's sixth Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is hearing some 50,000 fans sing along Saturday night when Coldplay performs such lovely, caressing tunes as "Yellow."


It's an expression of devotion and hope that should sound all the sweeter in the gorgeous outdoor desert setting:




Look at the stars,


Look how they shine for you,


And everything you do


Yeah, they were all yellow.



Thanks to "Yellow" and other memorable ballads, Coldplay's first two albums have sold 20 million copies around the world — and the new album, titled "X&Y," is packed with enough melody-rich tunes to be another blockbuster. It's more smart, embracing music that should appeal to the demanding alt-rock crowd that is Coachella's target audience and the mainstream pop world.


Some Coachella regulars, in fact, may wonder whether such a massively popular band belongs on a festival whose headliners have leaned to such against-the-grain heroes as Rage Against the Machine, Radiohead, the White Stripes, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Beck.


Most of the weekend's dozens of acts fall into the "outsider" class — from radical bestsellers Nine Inch Nails, who will headline Sunday's program, to such critical darlings as Bright Eyes, Gang of Four and Wilco to a flurry of intriguing newcomers, including Arcade Fire, the Kills, M.I.A. and Bloc Party.


Four years ago, however, Coldplay's credentials wouldn't have been an issue. At the time, the British quartet was playing the intimate, 1,500-capacity Mayan Theatre, battling for attention in a rock world dominated in this country by groups specializing in paint-by-numbers aggression and anger.


Coldplay's music was so tasteful, heartfelt and understated that it seemed like a longshot to make the U.S. top 10, even though its debut album, 2000's "Parachutes," went on to win a Grammy for best alternative album in a field that included Radiohead's "Amnesiac."


The surprise radio acceptance of that CD's "Yellow" changed the band's fortunes overnight. Two years later, the group's follow-up, "A Rush of Blood to the Head," captured another Grammy for best alternative album (topping Beck's "Sea Change").


Equally important, Martin evolved during that period from a shy, almost motionless performer into a charismatic figure who reached out to audiences with a passion reminiscent of U2's Bono. The group was hot enough by the summer of 2003 to sell out the Hollywood Bowl for two nights.


Because "X&Y" won't be released until June 7, fans won't be familiar enough with the new tunes to sing along Saturday, though some are so immediately accessible that they'll likely be joining in the second time the chorus comes around.


" 'Til Kingdom Come" is so endearing a love song that it is likely to be played at weddings for years. It was written for Johnny Cash to sing, but he died before he was able to record it.


The tune's lovely, sing-along chorus:




For you, I'd wait 'til kingdom come


Until my days, my days are done


Say you'll come and set me free


Just say you'll wait, you'll wait for me.



As much as the words, however, Coldplay's appeal rests in Martin's sensitive, often falsetto-edged vocals and the majestic shine of the music. It's a style that combines the tension and restraint of Radiohead with the anthemic sweep of U2.


When told recently that Martin would eventually like to take U2's place, Bono seemed flattered. "Well, they may be the ones to do it," he said. "They have the legs to go a long way if they keep their concentration. Chris is a songwriter in the high British line of Paul McCartney and Ray Davies and Noel Gallagher. I don't know him well, but I know him to be awake to the wider world, which is always a mark for me."



Modest guy, big ideas


The devilishly handsome Martin may be leader of one of the hottest bands in the world and the husband of actress Gwyneth Paltrow, but he operates by modest, alt-rock standards.


Instead of scheduling the interview at an in-crowd restaurant and ordering a limo to take him there, Martin, 28, suggested the reporter pick him up at the Santa Monica house where he was staying and choose some cozy eating place.


The 6-foot-2 singer-pianist answered the door himself and had no security guard or aide at his side as he headed for the car. He didn't even look around nervously for paparazzi, though pictures of the couple are in great demand by celebrity magazines, especially after their marriage in late 2003.


"They seem to have moved on," Martin said, slipping into the passenger seat. "It must go in cycles, or maybe we just don't do anything flashy enough for them. We just act like a normal couple."


Like so many musicians married to famous partners, Martin is reluctant to talk about his relationship with his wife or their nearly 1-year-old daughter, Apple.


Some musicians take that no-comment policy so far that they avoid writing songs that could be interpreted as reflections on the ups and down of their relationship.


Martin, however, doesn't censor his feelings.


The new album is filled with love songs, including one, "What If," that expresses gingerly the feelings of vulnerability in a relationship. It's another eloquent song that is likely to be an audience favorite:




What if there was no light, nothing wrong, nothing right


What if there was no time, and no reason or rhyme


What if you should decide that you don't want me there by your side


That you don't want me there in your life.



"I'm well aware some people will say this song is about this or that, but I don't care," Martin said, settling into a booth at the restaurant. "I know John Lennon's 'Jealous Guy' is about Yoko Ono, but that doesn't make the song any better or worse for me. It's far better for us to risk the ridicule we might get by being emotionally honest than to shut that honesty off."


When the topic does get around to the new album, Martin shifts between moments of absolute confidence and savage anxiety. The album title, he says, is another way to talk about the yin and yang of his personality — the extremes of emotion.


"I felt every ounce of everything I have was poured into the album," he said. "Recording was very stressful and painful. Now, I'm far too close to it to have any idea if it is any good. It could be a pile of rubbish, but it is the most slaved-over and well-loved pile of rubbish anyone could produce.


"That's probably what I said about the first album and the last one. I'm always terrified that whatever magic we have has gone away. Until people start listening to the music, the only thing you know is it feels right to you. You don't know if it is going to kick in with anybody else."


Martin is equally humble when it comes to songwriting.


"I don't really understand songwriting," he said, staring across the highway at the ocean. "Every time I finish writing a song, there's a bit of, 'Where did this come from?'


"It keeps me from wanting to take credit for them or think that I'm this special person. It's a bit like being a fisherman really. You can be ready and alert and have all the right equipment, but the right fish has to swim past or you don't have anything."


Though most of the songs start with Martin, the final product is very much a collaborative effort with the other band members. Like U2, Coldplay is a tight-knit, democratic group. It was formed during the members' college days in 1996 and features Jonny Buckland on guitar, Guy Berryman on bass and Will Champion on drums.


"We are a true team," Martin said forcefully. "I show all of our songs to Will and he throws most of them back. Jonny and I get excited very easily over what each other is doing. Will, though, is brutally honest. 'Chris, this is really not a great melody. It's an interesting idea, but I can't relate to it.' That helps bring us back to the emotional core."


This perfectionism prompted the band to scrap the new album last year after members thought it simply didn't meet their standards. The first, discarded version felt a little sterile, Martin said. They feel they captured the excitement of the music better this time.


On the way back to Santa Monica, Martin spoke about his socially conscious side. He campaigns hard for trade laws that are more favorable to Third World nations, a move that compelled some cynics to accuse him of carrying this U2 fixation too far.


The comparison to the socially active Bono prompted a laugh from Martin.


"If people want to call me a third-rate Bono, that's fine," he said, tapping his fingers on the dashboard. "Does someone really believe we are talking about fair trade just to sell more records?


"Ultimately my reasons are as selfish as they are philanthropic. I want my daughter and my friends to have a happy, amazing life. I feel the more you mess people over, the more it is going to come back and hurt you. I'd feel the same if I were playing Russian folk music or driving a truck. I just have a bigger platform. We get to tour around the world and play places like Coachella."



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i for one can not wait to hear 'till kingdom come..im dyying to hear it' date=' from the first second i heard about the song title, i wanted to hear it[/quote']


yes, it seems it'll be an amazing track :)

cannot wait to hear it ;)

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