#7) Coldplay: A Rush of Blood to the Head, 2002
Somehow I can’t believe this album came out this decade, it feels so long ago! It is so far my earliest album on the list, and like Hot Fuss has a particularly nostalgic effect on me. Without a doubt, Coldplay has been one of the most successful bands of the Ohsies, releasing four single-packed LP’s starting in 2000 with Parachutes, and completing the era with Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends in 2008. With no hints that they’ll be stopping anytime soon, Coldplay could very well go on to be the next U2 and find themselves in the mainstream for another 20 years or more, like it or not.
But band history and predictions aside, let’s listen to the album at hand. I’m not sure how much I’m being influenced by the artwork on the cover when I say this, but I find that Politik has me dreaming in black and white. The song seems to state the boundaries in entering dialogue with the album. “Give me time and give me space, give me real, don’t give me fake…” And to the rhythm of the whole band pounding out 8th notes between every verse I put some breakfast together, heeding the call to open up my eyes (or ears as the case may be). And like a good introduction, a hint of the conclusion rounds off the first track with the beautiful line, “but give me love over this”.
I’m finishing up eating and sit with my cup of coffee as In My Place, which is a very good song for drinking coffee, because a good cup of joe makes me feel quite comfortable wherever I may be. My only complaint is that I ran out of milk, so I used soy beverage instead. I should have had it black. I’m going to sit and enjoy this song before I start in on the many “to-do’s” on my list.
Dishes are done to God Put A Smile Upon Your Face. This has often been my favorite track on the album, and I can remember listening to this in my old office at the church in New Westminster as I attempted to plan ridiculous games for teenagers. Somehow the song would be a reminder to give everyone a chance to be great, because “when you work it out, I’m worse than you…” I’m still not so great at that though.
And although The Scientist has become the dreaded piano line that everyone learns to play because of it’s simple chords, I will always remember it as what made me fall in love with Coldplay in the first place. Before ever buying the whole album, I actually went out and paid for a single of this song. (Yes I went out, and bought a cd with only 3 songs on it! These were the years before the iTunes store was something I had discovered). Full of grief and longing, and closely connected in my brain to the haunting music video. And as a note, the pictures in my head are all in black in white, even though the video was shot if colour. Don’t ask me to explain that.
Even though we are 7 years later, I still react to Clocks like an overplayed song. I guess this is one of the downsides to listening to albums from a period when I still spent a great deal of time listening to the radio. Even when the song began to fall from the heights of radio-play, it was used it countless movies and trailers, and later even other songs! I’m not sure I can ever again be not sick of this song. Strangely though, I realize as I’m singing along to the bridge (“nothing else compares…”) that it’s the first time I’ve opened my mouth and sung, even though I’m the only one home.
When Daylight begins, I’m half expecting colour pictures to emerge in my head, but they don’t until Green Eyes. There is something about this song that feels green, far beyond the eyes in discussion. Maybe it’s the acoustic guitar that I feel like I’ve been waiting for. As I’m moving around the kitchen, attempting to clean some mystery items out of the fridge, I make two discoveries. 1) There is beer. At the back of the fridge. I was so sure we were out. 2) There is milk! In the door! I run to the sink, dump out the dregs of my soy-tainted coffee and start grinding some beans for a second try.
I wait for the coffee to brew and sort my recycling as I croon along to Warning Sign, another former favorite track. So sentimental and regretful, and it’s pretty easy to sing lines like “I miss you so,” in a big empty house.
All of Rush of Blood tends to be very image-full for me. The title track clearly brings to mind two moments from cinema. The first is fairly obvious: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, when the whole album sits outside on the couch watching their family home burn down. The second is related by theme: in Forest Gump when Jenny is found throwing rocks at the house where she grew up. Both are statements of love, revenge, justice, and simply moving forward out of pain and sorrow. This song for me is like a really good monologue that paints a picture not only of the speaking character, but the implied 2nd person. In other news, my coffee is much better now.
The fact that Coldplay named their album for this song suggests we look at all the songs through this lens. The album itself is carefully crafted, and far more than just a product of a “rush of blood to the head”. Yet, each moment on the album is a product of great passion and tends to build up a bit of a rush for the listener. Ultimately, the album seems to ask me a question: What will I do with my passion? What does any of my anger or love or empathy or sadness accomplish at all, until I decide to do something about it?
And as if Chris expected me to get to this place, Amsterdam comes as a word of encouragement, even if I can’t help but question whether there’s a note of sarcasm: “time is in on your side… it’s no cause for concern…” Is there time? And if there is, what’s worth it? Big questions and good questions, as any great album should ask. Which is exactly what A Rush of Blood to the Head is.