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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.