Monday, July 7, 2008

Colplay’s Lyrical Rorschach

Coldplay's latest has set a new record for album downloads and unsurprisingly so. They are a very good band and seem to be just getting better. But their first single from this album is (perhaps unintentionally) the most interesting piece they have ever released. Viva la Vida is an intoxicating meditation on power and loss. But the most interesting line turns up twice in late refrains:

"For some reason I can't explain,
I know St. Peter will/won't call my name."

The reason I find this line particularly interesting is that I can't tell if Chris is saying will or won't. His lyrical ambiguity is perfectly honed to generate a powerful lyrical rorschach. I went back and forth between will and won't and finally sought the wisdom of the masses through everyone's favorite informational life line, Google. I found the confusion to be wide spread with people taking hard positions either way and others believing different words were used in each verse (which instigated a secondary, intramural battle regarding order).

It does appear (for the benefit of those of us who subscribe to an authorial intent hermeneutic) that Martin has adjudicated the debate. If his hunch proves true St Peter won't be calling his name. (Parenthetically, this is a meaningless statement since there is no biblical evidence that St Peter will be playing any direct role in eschatological events - but we all understand his medieval metaphor.) But I think that far more interesting than what Chris thinks about St Peter's name calling is what each of us thinks he thinks. Are we comforted by vague sentimentality or emboldened by cavalier indifference or affirmed by confusion? What does how we fill the Coldplay madlib say about us?

2 comments:

Bronwyn said...

Speaking of bumper stickers:

there's a car in Davis with the bumper sticker which says "Jesus was a liberal."

And frankly, all that says is that the owner of the car is a liberal...

Good to have you in the blogging world!

JMBower said...
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