Have you ever loved a song to the point of ridiculousness but no matter how hard you try, you just can’t understand the lyrics? What was the artist thinking when writing your favorite tune? More Than Words, a weekly column at Examiner (dot com), helps to delve a little deeper…
Yellow, Coldplay (Parachutes, 2000)
During a concert in Massachusetts, Coldplay lead vocalist Chris Martin discussed the song “Yellow” - about how it introduced the band to the US, how great it was to get such a positive response, and then he said "there's been a lot of discussion about the meaning of the name of this song.....truthfully, I happened to be looking at the Yellow Pages while writing it, and the color stuck!” Songfacts. Martin confirmed this during an interview with VH1 Storytellers.
But is seems as though the sultry songwriter has alluded fans for years with a series of non-committal responses to the age old question – what the hell do you mean? Whilst Martin wavers between discussing the themes of love and devotion, through to meaningless words and a phone book, a barrage of Coldplay-diehards have their own ideas.
It seems the lyrics “Your skin, Oh yeah, your skin and bones. Turn into something beautiful. You know, you know I love you so” have been the main cause for speculation, sparking rumors that the song is about jaundice. “This song is actually about his mother who died from a liver disease. Skin turns yellow when the liver is failing. It is a very sad song to hear knowing the pain he went through watching her die. "I wrote a song, I wrote a song for you and it was called yellow" He says he would bleed himself dry because it is his mother and would do anything to save her. but it didn't work out that way.” This is the second highest rated response on Lyric Interpretations.
Some interpretations also suggest that the song was written for Martin’s Goddaughter who was suffering from a kidney illness at the time, that it was about a dying girl Martin was in love with and…..Asberger’s disease. “This song reminds me of Aspergers, I don't know why it just does remind me straight forward about Aspergers Syndrome.” Lyric Interpretations.
The soft nature of the music and vocals, coupled with lyrics such as “Look at the stars. Look at how they shine for you” and “I swam across. I jumped across for you” lead most to believe that “Yellow” is unapologetically romantic. Not necessarily about love in the romantic sense, but love in the unconditional sense that could be for a lover, a child, a parent etc.
“This song can mean so many things to so many people. It can symbolize the love between a parent and child, brotherly love, or the romantic type of love. To me, it symbolizes the romantic type. It basically says that you would do anything for the one that you love. Every little, tiny thing that your lover does, however insignificant it may seem can actually mean a lot. Everything they do seems wonderful.” Songmeanings.
During an interview on 60 minutes with journalist Steve Kroft, Martin did his best to dispel the rumors:
"Your very first album…you had a world wide hit, in “Yellow”," Kroft noted. "What's it about? F… knows," Martin replied. "I've got no idea. I still think about that every day. I love playing it. I love the tune. I love the chords. I love the balloons that we use live. But I still can't quite work out what it's about," he said, laughing.
"Even if I don't really feel like playing it, those guys have paid their ticket money. They wanted to see us play 'Yellow,' so we'll play it," he said.
Critics were positive towards the song. Matt Diehl of Rolling Stone magazine has noted "Yellow" is an "unrepentantly romantic", adding that "the band creates a hypnotic slo-mo otherworld where spirit rules supreme". "Yellow" won Best Single at the 2001 NME Carling Awards. It was nominated at the 2002 Grammy Awards for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance by a duo or Group with Vocal. Wikipedia.