Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Kat's Korner: Coldplay's X & Y, you gotta dig deep to come together

Sumner was pissed and angry.

"Chris Martin is supposed to be politically aware! What is this universal crap!"

Dak-Ho was trying to listen to the music.

Maggie was digging around the place for more candles and oblivious to everything going on around her.

Toni's in Sumner's face telling him the music is incredible.

"Right Maggie?"

"Bic's in my purse!" Maggie calls out still digging around the cabinets. Like I said, oblivious.

"It's a cop out! It's a diversion! It's an escape!" Sumner spits out.

"What say we wait 'till the end of the album to make a judgement call?"

"Why? So we can say if there's a 'Rush of Blood to the Head' as the second to the last song? Is that what we settle for these days?"

Dak-Ho interrupts their argument with, "I'm trying to listen!"

He said oh I’m gonna buy a gun and start a war
If you can tell me something worth fighting for
Oh and I’m gonna buy this place, that’s what I said
Blame it upon a rush of blood to the head
And honey
All the movements you’re starting to make
See me crumble and fall on my face
And I know the mistakes that I made
See it all disappear without a trace
And they call as they beckon you on
They say start as you mean to go on
Start as you mean to go on

Sumner's singing, or more like screaming, those lyrics at Toni.

"They stood for something!" he insists. "Coldplay actually stood for something! What have they done now but make elevator music!"

When I invited everyone over to listen to Coldplay's latest CD, X & Y, I wasn't expecting a melee. But expectations are what we have before reality comes calling after all.

Sumner was angrier than I've ever seen him.

Maggie hollers, "I got it!"

She's waving a large green candle. I don't remember buying it. And quite honestly, as large as it is, I probably didn't. In fact, it was probably made for me.

She rushes over to Toni and Sumner, "Can I have my Bic?"

Sumner explains that he didn't get her Bic, that he wasn't asking for a light, that he's been spending the last ten minutes explaining why the new Coldplay CD sucks.

Maggie's tuned him out as soon as she realized he didn't have her Bic. She's got her tongue stuck out of the corner of her mouth, indicating deep thought, as she eyes the collossal black bag she calls a purse. Forget back packs, I've seen luggage on wheels that was smaller than Maggie's purse.

Taking a deep breath, she charges at the purse, apparently trying to catch it by surprise. Grabbing it, she upends it causing all the contents to spill to the carpet.

"My watch!" cries Toni.

"My water bill!" hollers Dak-Ho.

"My Lord, this CD sucks!" screams Sumner.

Dak-Ho's lecturing Maggie about how he gave her that envelope to mail and how she told him that she had mailed it, that she insisted that even when he got the second notice, that he finally had the bank stop payment on his check because he assumed it was lost in the mail. Toni's remembering one of our New Year's Eve parties and how she asked Maggie to hold on to her watch. She'd forgotten about doing that and has spent the last six months trying to remember where she last had it.

"That was my grandmother's watch," Toni's part huffing part, explaining as she slaps it onto her wrist. "It's a family heirloom!"

Sumner's hissing "sell out" while Maggie's stepping past Toni and ignoring Dak-Ho to light the candle. It's getting ugly. I think we can all see that except Maggie who's switching off the lights and is so entranced by the candle.

"Toni, you shouldn't have worn it to the party to begin with and if you forgot you gave it to Maggie, that's your fault," I say trying to remain calm. "She's got enough trouble keeping up with her own life without keeping up with yours. Dak-Ho, the same thing applies. Five years you've known Maggie. How many times has the electricity in her apartment been shut off because she kept meaning to send the payment in?"

While Toni paces around angrily, Dak-Ho gets defensive, "She said she'd send it!"

"Are we going to start expecting her to do what she says at this late date?" I shoot back.

"New song!" Maggie squeals swaying to the slow beat while she holds the candle.

You and me are floating on a tidal wave . . .
You and me are drifting into outer space . . .
And singing

Reaching under the couch, I grab my hidden pack of smokes and toss it Toni who's run out on the way over. Immediately the tension leaves her face and body. Dak-Ho's gone from shouting at Maggie to dancing around the room with her. Sumner's still sulking.

"You really hate it?" I ask him.

"It's completely divorced from reality. What is on this album that says this is 2005 and the world is at war and the people are losing?"

Inhaling deeply, Toni walks over and offers, "Well I really liked that one. What's it called?"

"X & Y," Dak-Ho says catching his breath. He starts to walk over now that the song is ended but notices Toni's lit cigarette and snarls his nose. Instead, he's rushing around the living room opening windows and muttering something about nonsmokers having rights to.

"If they're just going to make music divorced from reality," Sumner's saying, "then hell, hire one of the 'beat' masters of today! If you're going to sell out do it with style."

Maggie's twirling around and getting dizzy causing Toni to tear the candle out of her hands.

"It's like a really good Pink Floyd album!" Maggie hollers continue to twirl around the room. "Listen to the layers of music!"

Toni's lighting a new cigarette off the butt of the last one and in debate mode.

"So what? You're saying that if they're not doing a song of protest, they've got no reason to put out an album?"

"No, Toni," Sumner grunts, "I'm saying if you've got nothing to say about the world today, why even bother to put out an album. I don't need a travelogue of 'My Honeymoon with Gwynie!' It's like MTV's Newlyweds marketed to smart people."

Toni throws up her hand and paces off.

My song is love
Love to the lovely song
And it goes on
You don't have to be alone
Your heavy heart
Is made of stone
And it's so hard to see you clearly
You don't have to be on your own
You don't have to be on your own.

I carefully cut my eyes over to Sumner. I can tell he's listening closely.

Maggie giggles as she collapses to the floor, shouting as she lands, "That's really deep!"

Toni strides over to make a point but Sumner shushes her.

"Okay," Sumner says as the song trails off, "maybe that one works."

Toni and Sumner are debating the points of "A Message." Toni's pointing out that it is, after all, called "A Message." Sumner's agreeing that you don't have to be on the nose in your lyrics, head on and can actually write something that requires thought. From the floor, Maggie offers, "It's really deep. Are we going to try to see Pink Floyd's comeback tour?"

Dak-Ho's doing his fake cough from across the room and talking about his sinus problems.

Looking around the room, it's obvious that we are all back to normal. Or as close to normal as any of us can get.

Look, there's no Bright Eyes "When a President Talks To God" on this CD. Maybe Chris Martin can write lyrics like that, maybe he can't. Some people can't. And if you're looking for something like that or for some sort of bumper sticker you can affix to your car, you're going to be disappointed.

But if you're ascribing apolitical to the lyrics or seeing all the songs as a running commentary on marriage to Gwyneth Paltrow, you're missing something.

People used to be able to read meaning into lyrics. Sometimes they read more than was there.
(Think of "Paul is dead.") But these days, are we reduced to taking every lyric on the first, most obvious literal meaning?

Blame it on the Disney Kids (did you hear, the children of Destiny are calling it quits?) and the need to take obvious to new levels, to speak on one level only.

There's a richness to the music. "The Hardest Part," with it's incessant riff going in and out, pulsing with a life all it's own, says more to me than any words could.

But if your looking for lyrics that lay a trip on you, check out "Low."

You see the world in black and white
No pain, no right
You see no mean into your life
You should try
You should try

And admist the audio landscape they're creating, think about what's missing in this world of fear and paranoia. I don't think Martin and the boys have hit the escape route. I think they're making a contribution in their own way, reminding us of what we are and what we need. Still, even now. "Light will guide you home." Not plotting death and destruction, there is a message here.

My song is love
Love to the lovely song
And it goes on
You don't have to be alone
Your heavy heart
Is made of stone
And it's so hard to see you clearly
You don't have to be on your own
You don't have to be on your own.

You can see that as a love song. I don't. I see it as a statement of what's needed in these dark times -- coming together, honoring the humanity inside all of us. Maybe I'm seeing more than is really there or maybe you have to dig deep. And dedicate yourself to the eternal struggle of humanity and justice while trying to hold on to that part of yourself that cares about the world around you and connecting with it. I don't see the title, X & Y, as a love song or even as a song about a man and a woman. I see it as a song about reclaiming the yin and the yang. Reuniting, not dividing. The eternal, ongoing struggle within each of us.

And the wheels just keep on turning
The drummers begin to drum
I don't know which way I'm going
I don't know what I've become.