SONG MEANING: “Adventure of a Lifetime” by Coldplay is a fun, groovy dance song about feeling “alive again” because of a woman. The song is disco inspired and meant to not only be about good feelings but also to give them.

Coldplay is coming out with a new album on December 4th, and it will be called A Head Full of Dreams. The fifth track on the album (and the lead single) is “Adventure of a Lifetime.” After Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin was left by actress Gwyneth Paltrow, the band’s next album Ghost Stories was quiet, suppressed, and even depressing. “Adventure of a Lifetime” is a reassuring return to a message of hope and fun, even if the song wasn’t directly written by Martin.

Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow
Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow

Qthemusic.com quotes Martin as saying, “I was asking the rest of the band to start something and I’ll see if a song comes out from it, so not everything comes from me. That’s how [Ghost Stories single] ‘Magic’ came about. On this album it happened with ‘Adventure Of A Lifetime.’ It came from [guitarist Johnny Buckland’s] riff. I was the last person on there.”

As for the music itself, The Atlantic says, “With the trippily mirrored single art, that spiraling guitar, and the looped chanting throughout, it’s clear that Coldplay is interested in the spiritual potential of dance music’s repetitive nature—they want to hypnotize as much as they want to make feet move. The shrill, distracting riff also makes clear that unlike most real disco, they’re not trying to be sexy.” “Adventure of a Lifetime” is certainly hypnotic, and the music may even be fun to dance to. (I guess we’ll have to test out that one.)

The Meaning of “Adventure of a Lifetime”

The woman in this song is very encouraging. In Verse 1, she tells Chris Martin, “Turn your magic on.” But notice that he says, “[S]he’d say.” “[S]he’d” is a contraction for “she would” which refers to how this woman’s character is some sort of hypothetical (or at least that her actions are). Essentially, she may not exist. Imagine the word “if…” at the end of the “she’d” and begin wondering how Martin would fill in the lyric after that.

My best guess is that Martin is saying that “if she existed, she’d say ________.” Who is this hypothetical? She could be “the perfect woman” or the person the narrator feels he needs at the moment. My best guess (and this is far from scientific–I’m interpreting her identity based on my own reading) is that she’d be the woman you’d find late night disco dancing; she’d be fun and confident but wouldn’t want to listen to your problems–only to inform you that you’d figure it out eventually, even though you’d been going through a slump recently.

But like I said, it’s all guesswork. Really, her identity may be up to you, so let me know what you think in a comment, and I’ll respond.

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The woman continues to say, “Turn your magic on . . . / Everything you want’s a dream away.” She’s encouraging him to find the source of his passion, to realize its existence, and then to live like he enjoyed life. She inspires him to believe that he can accomplish what he wants to accomplish.

But this woman’s not just the narrator’s (or Chris Martin’s) personal confidence fairy. In the next line, he sings, “We are legends everyday / That’s what she told him.” The fact that she was talking to him earlier and is no talking to someone else possible means that she and Chris are not romantically involved (or that she’s definitely a figment of his imagination). She’s a free spirit, roving about (maybe to all the local disco clubs as the music’s tone suggests), and talking to people, saying what she thinks to whoever she wants.

Coldplay, credit Julia Kennedy
Coldplay, credit Julia Kennedy

In the Refrain, he adds to earlier and now repeated lines: “Under this pressure, under this weight / We are diamonds.” The whole point of this stanza is to say that though life may be difficult, we can become better people for the suffering we undergo.

The Chorus continues the idea of coming alive and seizing the day: “I feel my heart beating / I feel my heart underneath my skin.” The heart pumps blood and thus makes life possible, and Martin feels that muscle pumping. He’s more than usually aware of what’s keeping him alive and thus more aware that this woman makes him “feel / Like I’m alive again.” She’s encouraged him to come out of a slump and to accept his own magic–to be something more than he was.

A Head Full of Dreams, album cover
A Head Full of Dreams, album cover

In Verse 2, Martin sings, “Said I can’t go on, not in this way / I’m a dream, I die by light of day.” The way he was living wasn’t sustainable, and he realizes he needs to move forward. His dreams are fine but he wasn’t actualizing them and needs positive progress.

In the next line, he sings part of a Chinese proverb: “Gonna hold up half the sky and say / Only I own me.” It would seem that this refers to a new phase in the narrator’s life as he prepares break free and to become something more and to be able to join others and “hold up half the sky” (or to do his part to help keep the world running).

In the Bridge, Martin’s resolve grows as he determines his next steps. He wants to spend his life with this woman who seems to be able to make people feel alive. Martin sings, “If we’ve only got this life / Then this adventure, more than I / Wanna share with you.” He’s ready to commit, and because he likes her so much, it’s an easy decision. He sings, “You’ll get me through alive,” and he really seems to believe it. He’s found a good thing and wants to keep her.

Of course, if she’s in his imagination, that could be difficult. But, based on the lyrics, the dream that she seemed to have been at the beginning of the song is becoming something really and truly beautiful–perhaps even real itself. But whether real or not, she’s a positive influence on the narrator’s life, and that’s something worthy of any disco groove.

Adventure of a Lifetime Artwork
Adventure of a Lifetime Artwork

Thanks for reading about “Adventure of a Lifetime” by Coldplay! Please don’t forget to share, like, and follow on Twitter, Facebook, and this blog

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Clifford Stumme has his master’s in English literature and is a blogger and a college instructor/desk-watcher at Liberty University. He likes juggling and reading/writing, and he is married to the wonderful and beautiful Wife April. He thinks pop music is awesome. Seriously awesome.

Clifford Stumme

  • Denise

    Love your interpretation, I agree

  • Nura

    I’m doing a cover of this song and I wanted to be able to sing it the way it’s supposed to be sung. Thanks for making this!!

  • Autumn

    Do you know what is being said in the background??

    • I assumed they were nonsense syllables. What do you think they’re saying? It could be super helpful to know.

      • Sharon I

        I am Indonesian, so my native language is Bahasa Indonesia. I know this sounds stupid, but to me the background voices sounded like “cinta kamu”, translate that in English and you’ll ge “love you” and I know it sounded stupid. Anyway, seeing many people hear it differently, maybe it is nonsense syllable. Since it is meaningless, maybe it is supposed to make us hear lovely thing our brain connected it with. (sorry for any grammar mistake)

        • Sharon I, I think that’s a great theory. It doesn’t sound stupid. What you hear would make sense and your other theory–hearing whatever we think we hear would make sense too. Thanks for that!

        • I think that is a very smart connection. I was trying to find some solid facts to share with you but I’m busy with school work. From my memory I recall Martin frequenting India among other countries. I remember him having a huge interest in Buddhism for a while as well, maybe a possible connection though I’m definitely ignorant when it comes to that area. Anyways, it would make sense to me for him to use an Indian phrase in his song.

    • Lisa

      For some reason, I thought they were saying, “change my life”, which would make sense to the song.

  • Boby

    The chanting lyrics in the background… Is it

    “tree fall down
    Tree fall down
    Tree fall down, catch it catch it”

    Can’t quite work it out😳

    • Kylie Houden

      Yes I wondered that too…it sounds like
      Too Fired Up
      Too Fired Up

      • Roberto

        I was sure they are saying dick farmer

      • Rachel

        I hear:

        Tear fall down,
        Tear fall down…
        My Cheek, My Cheek

        Which is weird for how uplifting the song is.
        He does reference tears a lot; reoccurring theme…

        Idk

    • I’d love that to be the meaning. It’d be weird. If that’s what it is, what do you think it means?

  • Sal

    In the Coldplay’s official lyrics of adventure of a lifetime, the first two sentences goes: “Turn your magic on, Umi she’d say.” Umi means my mother in Arabic. So, this women he is referring to might be his mother.
    http://coldplay.com/adventure-of-a-lifetime-lyrics/

    • Interesting! Thanks for the head’s up.

      • Julián

        That would be amazing if it was “mother” what he was trying to say, because there’s a possibility that this “she” is Life. He is talking to Life, maybe, I don’t know. I’m gonna use this as a suggestion for my graduating class song, what do you people think? Should I go for it?

  • Eva

    Chris. You connect to WORDS Through Your BIG HEART ! Thank You, it is interesting. Merry Christmas xo Eva

    • I was confused about who you were talking to, but, yeah, you’re right!

  • Maybe he’s saying “Deewana” in the background, which is Hindi for “Crazy” . Dunno. Coldplay visits India so…

  • Jeff

    These guys are so close to getting saved & coming into their true Spirituality through our living God, Jesus Christ… this is awesome.

    • I love it when that happens too, but I’m really curious to see where you get that from this song? Please explain. Can’t wait to hear your comments.

  • Teddy T

    Had this song stuck in my head this morning. So, I think it’s about the camaraderie and joy of being in a band with these guys, sharing their lives together, on the adventure of a lifetime in spite of the tough times they’ve faced. I don’t think it’s about romantic love with a woman. Perhaps it’s a woman inspiring a young man to do something special, but the pressure they feel (to be special, to be in a rock band) makes them diamonds – excellent. I think it’s about friendship and finding meaning and redemption in one another (meaning, their band). Just my take, though.

    • That’s a possible explanation for sure, but how do you explain the “Umi, she’d say.” Who’s the “she”?

    • Branka

      Well, first of all, he says: Turn the magic on, Umi she’d say- Not to me she’d say. Umi means mother in I don’t remember what language. Then, I really think that this song is about evolution, and is not very religious, which is only logical. :)

  • Fee

    Such A HAPPY FEELGOOD ALBUM , just wanna DANCE AND JUMP AROUND SOOOOOO
    MUCH . CARNT WAIT TILL THE LADS COME TO AUSTRALIAN on TOUR ILL BE THERE !!!!!
    GREAT KARMA TO EVERYONE LOVE FEE IN AUSTRALIA XXXXX🕉🕉🕉🕉🕉🕉🕉🕉🕉🕉🕉🕉📿📿📿📿📿📿📿📿📿🎤🎤🎤🎤🎤🎤🎤🎤👌👌👌👌👌👌🎼🎼🎼🎼🎼🎼🎼🎼💐💐💐💐💐💐💐💐💐💐🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱🐱

  • Michele

    My intuitive sense is that Umi is more symbolic for like the female earth energy (mother could mean Mother Earth) or some type of wise female elder. If it is the latter, maybe someone they have met traveling that was wise and inspiring?

  • Dámaris LM

    Does anyone of you know what it means the kind of arabic word that has the cd case in the back?

  • paul kempton

    Could the background chant be saying me father but in spanish, that’s what it sounds like to me… Me Faelur.??

  • Ashe

    Is it ‘if I die’…

    • I still can’t be sure but that would be very interesting at least.

  • neil iow

    you overlooked the hook dear boy.. Umi.. what does it mean? only when you know can you reveal the true meaning to the song.. Umi, She’d say.. (giving advice) The word Omen does not appear in the lyrics.

    • Hmmm…a lot of people have different opinions on that.

      • Michelle M

        I agree with Neil Iow that omen is not in the lyrics. On the “handwritten” lyrics in the album it says “only I own me”

        • More good information. Thank you. Yeah, that’s strange. The words definitely sound like that, so it confuses me greatly.

  • i think the background lyric is “drink fanta”

  • Listener

    Either “She Found Out” or “Jane Fonda”

  • Laimonas

    Here’s an idea: could “she” or “Umi” be the Sun? I mean, we can even see it in the music clip. It starts in the morning as the sun rises and everyone is waking up, goes through the day and ends with the sunset. And the lyrics fit too. In the morning the Sun wakes us up giving the energy for a new day as we start to ‘feel our hearts beating’ and She ‘makes us feel like we’re alive again’. “Everything you want’s a dream away” means that we get what we want when the night ends, when we quit dreaming and wake up. “Said I can’t go on, not in this way/I’m a dream that died by light of day/Gonna hold up half the sky and say/Only I own me” – these might go without an explanation, i think. But still, the Sun has to go down to go up again. In the sunset when half the sky is lit, the Sun says “Only i own me” and the dark comes.
    The song could also mean evolution. “We are diamonds taking shape” could mean, that we as human beings, have been under a lot of pressure through evolution, we became as hard as diamonds, but we are still getting into shape. Intelectually, at least. Also, in the music clip, we can see apes dancing, which seems to be quite evolved. And, of course, they are looking at the Sun and singing to it.
    Another idea is that “Umi” is the Earth and “she” is the Sun.
    Just trying to give you guys some of my ideas. Sorry for my bad English. Tell me what you think, please.

    • Laimonas, thanks so much for sharing–I think the sun theory is really interesting, though I’m not sure there’s enough information to support the evolution one. Both of your theories are very nature-based. Does that reflect your own personal beliefs?

    • I completely agree with you :) and there is a deep message: Turn your magic on… emphasizing to share life with others… LOVE.

    • Branka

      I completely agree with you. That is the only explanation why there are apes in the video and fits to lyrics perfectly

  • Kris

    Is the background lyric Giovanna?

  • I think the word is actually Ciabata. As in the bread.
    That’s what I hear every time it is played.

  • Fizalice

    I keep hearing ” Intifada ” in the background

  • DanteLewis

    Ti Fala (Portuguese)— You speak(English)
    I think so.

    • Interesting!

    • genevieve

      That’s exactly what I hear. I tried to Google Tifala. Thank you. I am happy with hat answer although Deewana also seemed close. But i hear Ti Fala.

  • Huang Donglin

    On Heart radio they say the background lyric is “Chicken Fried Rice”. Hahaha

  • You may want to adjust your original post, you have a couple of the lyrics incorrect. http://coldplay.com/adventure-of-a-lifetime-lyrics/

  • Milton Coffey

    Background syllables are clearly: Ti Fa Da (or pronounced Tee Fah Dah) and Et-chi (or pronounced eh-chee); folks tend to read too much into sounds. I’ve used made-up syllables for effect in songs & compositions before. “Etchi” is Japanese for horny, incidentally–probably not an intentional choice on the songwriter’s part.

  • Milton Coffey

    Oh, and BTW, “umi” is the Japanese word for ocean.

  • Marta Larios

    OH MY GOD! I AM IN LOVE WITH THIS PAGE. THANKS SO MUCH FOR WRITING THIS STUFF.

  • Farrisio

    I think it’s “dream further, dream further” then “is she, is she” – just a guess but it sits well with the rest of the song in terms if dreams etc or “dream Father” maybe

  • George Pagonis

    Nice page!

    As far as the background lyrics go, I hear an anagram of “Adventure Of A Life” – a word play so to speak.

    Try to pronounce the verse below in tune (keep the [e] in “[e]fiL” silent). “efiL” and “dA” are “Life” and “Ad” backwards. Also, the “A-Of” is sung by the secondary background chorus only three times per verse so that the fourth time can match and complete “dA-venture” (i.e. Adventure):

    -ture-[e]flL-dA — A-Of
    -ture-[e]flL-dA — A-Of
    -ture-[e]flL-dA — A-Of
    -ture-[e]flL-dA
    -venture, -venture

    :-)

  • George

    Sorry to post this again…actually, after hearing the background chorus over and over, many times, I am now convinced it is actually the title of the song sung backwards. The audio has been digitally edited a whole lot of course but this makes sense to me ([e] is silent):

    -tim[e]-[e]fiL-dA — A Of
    -tim[e]-[e]fiL-dA — A Of
    -tim[e]-[e]fiL-dA — A Of
    -tim[e]-[e]fiL-dA
    -venture, -venture

    “Adventure Of A Lifetime” sung backwards and with some syllables reversed so it sounds pleasing; then digitally edited to mask it into something barely recognizable.

    • Interesting theory! Have you tested it by playing it backwards? I should try that too.

  • The background is actually a woman with a Nigerian accent saying “dear fadda” (dear father) who is in this case; God (our father).

    Our lives here on earth are difficult at best but the pressure and weight of our problems and everyday is turning us to diamonds as we become refined by living through hard times and learning life’s difficulties.

    He’s “gonna hold up half of the sky and say only I own me” this means that is difficult let go and let God but he is always there for us if we just turn to him. He WILL makes us feel alive again as his love and energy shimmers through us when we let him into our heart and lives.

    He doesn’t want to live without God who makes him feel alive again.

    I have probably listened to this song about 50 times or more…and know it by heart :)

    • Michelle Colson

      Oh and the lyrics Omi, she’d say is his grandmother telling him to turn on his magic. Omi is grandma in German :)

    • Interesting theory–thanks for sharing!

  • Jason

    I think he is referring to Gwyneth Paltrow, Chris Martin is a genius and he is writing about his life problems he is facing, I think that Gwyneth is putting pressure and giving him hell, which is not her fault, Chris and Gwyneth are just Diamonds taking shape under all the problems she is going through.

  • Excellent interpretation. But I have a lingering question: what is said at the beginning? Before the first verse, and repeated a few times in background? I’m Brazillian and it sounds a lot like the portuguese words “devagar, bete, bete”, which would translate to “slowly, beth, beth”. Weird, huh?

    • Thanks, and we’re not sure. That’s everyone’s questions.

  • Great insights; of course, there is the problem of interpretation without accurate representation. A lot of these posts interpreted on mis-hearing the actually sung words, but I see as time has gone on, the posts have reflected the changes, so here are my two cents…I’m of a similar mind as Michelle Colson and Laimonas, reading a more spiritual end to the lyrics (although infusing an actual woman into the meaning may well be valid, based on Martin’s lyric “…share it with you”). “Umi”, yes, is Japanese for “ocean”, but a more apt meaning is its Arabic definition, meaning “mother”, literally or figuratively. The free “clubbing” spirit interp for “everything you wants a dream away” seems a small stretch, Clifford, even with the incessant, joyful dance-ability of the guitar riff and bass, with “umi” in the previous line (unless Mama herself was a free-spirit). For me, “a dream away” speaks to the power of energy, allowing you to create your life starting with the power of a word, idea or dream, which follows directly from “turn your magic on”, an almost witch-wizard type of creation, kind of a “speak and it will be” feel. It follows, since Chris has often said that his gift for song-writing comes from the universe or a Higher Intelligence, something along that line. The Sun reference (as mother-light of the earth) and evolution-primate premise in a few above posts seem quite apt, considering the Imaginarium-produced video, but I’ve not seen anyone offer up the proposal that the “she” being referred to might be Music, as many musicians refer to it. “She” has been a common pronoun (as muse) used for music for centuries and hence, I believe correctly follows through on the idea of sharing this adventure “with you.” “I’m a dream that died by light of day” may be a reference to Martin’s break-up with wife Gwyneth Paltrow and the mood of release “Ghost Stories”, which I’ve heard described as “introspective”, even “depressing”. “Head Full of Dreams” is considerably more upbeat in response.

    • Wow, super detailed response. Thanks for sharing. I appreciated reading this. :)

  • Ian

    “Oh we are omen” is not the original lyrics. It’s “only I own me”, at least according to the CD front cover. 😛

  • Babsi from the Grand-Duch of Luxembourg

    My 5 year old daughter hears ” Tu vas là” in French, which means “You go there” (a place).

  • Steve Douglas

    I believe it may be “quente, quente” which might means “warmly” – so slowly / warmly.

  • Steve Douglas

    ..sorry, incomplete.. so “devaga” would be the chant and the ending of it sounds like “quente, quente”

  • I’m brazilian too, we hear in portuguese “devagar”= “slowly”, but I don’t think
    It makes any sense.

  • Elizabeth

    Why does he say Jane Fonda?

  • Emilita

    The music video is beautiful and correlates well with the lyrics. At first you see monkeys that have human eyes when he hears the music and starts dancing he feels alive and becomes human. At the end of the video he climbs the tree and you see buildings That once were. To me, it feels like his world ended and then he found life again he remembers to be alive to be human.

  • Umi means mother in arab language….

  • giu pet

    Umi was a legendary Hawaiian warrior who later became king of those islands and that ordered to be buried in a secret place.
    http://www.gutenberg.org/files/13222/13222-h/13222-h.htm

  • So you don’t know what the hell those backgroung vocals say either.