Coldplay: Violet Hill Meaning
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Song Released: 2008
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Violet Hill Lyrics
From the rooftops I remember
There was snow
Clearly I remember
From the windows they were watching
While we froze
When the future's architectured
By a carnival of idiots on...
This is an analytical paper I wrote for my english class in college. It took me a while to come up with this interpretation but I think I got it pretty close. Let me know what you think about it...
Upon analysis, in the song Violent Hill, Coldplay uses symbolism and repetition to get across their political message. Coldplay references the media, religion, war, and how they are connected to substantiate their message geared towards encouraging people to wake up and recognize the misdeeds happening in the world. This is all played out through a story of a father who is a soldier at war and is questioned by his son.
Right from the beginning of the song there is a reference to snow, white snow. Why? Is it snowing out? Snow, especially white snow, covers things up and hides their true colors by pure whiteness. I believe that Coldplay is saying that ever since they can remember there has been “snow” everywhere. This is saying that deception is everywhere and almost nothing is how it seems. Then right in the next stanza he says, “clearly I can remember from the windows they were watching while we froze down below” “They” are the leaders, or theaters of influence that persuaded the father which, is now a soldier, to go to war. The soldiers are going off to war and are freezing in the “snow” down below. The snow is the leaders or theatres of influences lie that is causing only negative effects to the father and other soldiers, but not them because they are behind windows.
Coldplay first references the media in the third stanza. The song goes, “When the future’s architectured by a carnival of idiots on show, you’d better lie low”. “Idiots on show” could be several sources that basically make up our source of information. This is both the media and governments. It is sad how most people take what they hear on the news through media outlets and accept it as truth without researching anything from a different perspective. It is obvious that there is a right (conservative) and left (liberal) division of media in the United States which push their own agendas. These sources are biased and therefore not always reliable. CNN—a.k.a. Constant Negative News— pushes for a liberal world through an almost idealist philosophy. Then there is Fox news which basically uses scare tactics to frighten its listeners away from change. The problem is that these sources have an immeasurable influence not only on what news we hear, but also on how we interpret it. Therefore, the media has an immense affect on the future and Coldplay believes this is not in our best interest since they are biased.
Then the song says, “you’d better lie low”. This is an interesting first reference to something low, or below, which is repeated frequently throughout the song. This is something that people usually do not catch after listening to the song the first couple times. The reference to lying low is a sort of message from the idiots on show to not question them and remain silent. Also there is a chorus which says, “if you love me won’t you let me know”. I believe this is the sons’ plea to his father to let him know about the world as he wants to see the world through the media, religion, and war/nationalism like his father did. After the Coldplay’s reference to the media they start in with references to religion.
Next, the song says, “It was a long and dark December when the banks became cathedrals”. Banks are filled with money and people go to cathedrals to worship God. Coldplay is saying that through greed, we have become worshipers of money instead of God. After this statement that basically says people have changed and have become worshipers of money, they say, “the fog became God.” Fog is something that blurs our vision and hides potentially dangerous things from our line of sight. When they say that fog became God, they mean that today people use God and religion in general as fog to sort of justify things like war and death. This is a transition into religion which Coldplay talks about next.
Coldplay keeps singing about these different theaters that affect how we get information and how we interpret it when they sing next about religion. The song goes, “Priests clutched onto bibles, hollowed out to fit their rifles, and the cross was held aloft”. This is a reference to how religion is used today to justify violence (rifle). Priests hold onto the bible which preaches to love thy neighbor and that everyone is God’s children, while underneath the cover they say it is hollowed out to hide a rifle. This adds onto the whole using religion to justify violence and war theme. Religion has been the central cause in hundreds of wars over the centuries from the Christian crusaders to the six day Arab-Israeli war. Coldplay is basically saying that in today’s world, even religion—which is supposed to bring us salvation— is another theatre of influence that is not reliable.
Next the song goes, “Bury me in honor, when I’m dead and hit the ground, a love back home unfolds”. At this point the father is saying that he was fooled by these theatres of influence which he realizes have deceived him and brought him into this war. He believes that he will die in this war and when he does, he will not be able to shield his son from these theatres of influence that have doomed him. That is why he says when he’s dead and hits the ground, his love—which is shielding his son from these spheres of influence—will unfold. Right after this stanza the chorus of “If you love me…” starts up again. The son is obviously young and questions why his father will not let him know if he really loves him. The son wants to learn what is going on but his father does not want him to be fooled like he was.
The final theatre of influence which I hinted to above is war/military. The song goes, “I don’t want to be a soldier, who the captain of some sinking ship, would stow, far below”. At this point the father regrets his position of a soldier in the military which he believes is doomed. Again there is a reference to something at a lower level (far below). This is saying that the captain or leader of this ship (military) does not care about the safety of his/her soldiers and would station them at the bottom of a sinking ship. Then right after this the “if you love me…” chorus comes in again except the second half goes from “won’t you let me know” to “why’d you let me go?” I believe that at this point in the story the father has died from something having to do with the war and has therefore let his son go.
The last stanza before the chorus ends the song goes, “I took my love down to violet hill, there we sat in snow, all that time she was silent still”. This is the father talking about his death. He took his love which was protecting his son down to violet hill (bloody hill) where they sat in snow. They sat in the lie of the theatres of influence I mentioned earlier where they would eventually be covered by the snow. He is obviously afraid that he too will be become part of the lie that will bring more soldiers like him to die for a cause he was tricked into joining. The chorus of “So if you love me, won’t you let me know?” takes over and ends the song with just a piano playing slowly in the background.
In conclusion, the first time I heard the song Violet Hill by Coldplay I thought it was a really catchy song with little meaning behind it. But upon further analysis I was able to uncover this deep message that is hidden in every part of this song. Coldplay is able to use symbolism and repetitiveness to get across their message. Their message is that a lot of today’s world is going in the wrong direction but this wrong direction is justified or hidden by things like the media, greed, religion, and governments. They are so good at this deception that they have managed to fool people to go to war and die for their unjust cause.
People have begun to accept what they see on television or read in the newspapers as truth without questioning where this information came from and who wrote/reported it. This is unbelievably dangerous since 99% of the media is biased and incorporate their biased viewpoints into how they report the news.
Religion has become a fighting point for bloody and ruthless wars and violence, something that most religions preach against. The song talks about priests clutching bibles that are hollowed out to hold rifles. Religion is not a bad thing but Coldplay seems to argue that it is being manipulated to create conflicts and justify wars that benefit different governments or nations.
Coldplay does a magnificent job incorporating their message into their music. A seemingly shallow song has turned out to be a deep meaningful one. This is an important message to everyone to not just accept what they hear/see, but to question and analyze it to find the real meaning, exactly what the purpose of this paper is.
couple things: you cannot say 99% of the media is bias. though it probably is, you just cannot present an irrational opinion as fact. umm, I loved the way you saw the snow- I just don't think it was meant to be that deep. I think snow just generally represents a cold, loveless, blank atmosphere. At the end, you referenced your paper in your paper. Oucccchhhhh. That's a huge no-no. And lastly, i feel like there's a part of the story missing. There's definitely a young love going on between the protagonist. I feel like he's going off to war and wants her to stop him or keep him there. "If you love me wont you let me know." However interpretations are interpretations. And the paper was pretty good regardless.
anonymous Jul 4th, 7:26pm report
The song is the first anti-war protest song from the band, and it borrows its rhythm from The Beatles. "Violet Hill" derives its title from a street of the same name near Abbey Road.
- from wikipedia
anonymous Jul 3rd, 7:11am report
What bothers me, is all the while she was silent still..I think he's sitting with a corpse. I think the snow and cold killed her, and that's why she's now silent.
I don't know the origins of this song, but I've lived it for many years now. In my head, I'm a Roman, walking Hadrians wall. B.t.w., I'm Scottish-American. Yet, I hear this song and I'm with Hadrians men. I have built fortresses all day, only to hide behind at night, from the half naked, blue skinned bastards! Aye! Truly though,I love Roman tales, and to my minds eye, this this song is about love and loss during early Roman times. From both sides. They hid behind the walls. ???? Romans. I have always believed that the last sentences, or paragraphs were the true meaning of this song. But, who the hell knows? This is a story in musical form! I'd love to know meaning of this song. Doesn't Coldplay have a meaning of it?
phyreworcks Aug 19th, 2014 8:05pm report
My interpretation of this song is simple . . it sounds like a story of a couple in love.. however the boy wonders how his love can be so unappreciated by the girl, that even with all the beauty that surrounds them in one special moment upon a snowy hill, she couldnt find the words to say i love u (..I took my love down to violet hill, all that time she was silent still, ) and he then alerts his next love * not to waste his time & efforts only to break his heart by not appreciating every second of the time they share * (..if u love me, wont u let me know..) appreciate the love u are given and let the one you love know, that you do. The war references in the song may point to metaphors of how deeply love can hurt if it isn't returned.
anonymous Oct 5th, 2012 10:59pm report
This song is about 1942 the Japanese was boming the Chinese in 3rd of december thus "It was a long and dark december" and Chris (lead singer) is a soilder in the army forced to go and fight and he does not want to die because he will never see his loved one ever again and another part of the song "and the fog became god" this means that the fog would hide them from the enemy.
This song is one of the best coldplay songs and Iam sincerly sorry to coldplay if I got this wrong.
anonymous Jun 6th, 2012 6:49pm report
I think that all of these interpretations could be correct. Coldplay is a group that makes good music that's is very metaphoricle and sometimes hard to understand. None of us know exactly what they meant, but we can all have different opinions.
anonymous May 29th, 2012 5:51am report
I think this song is about the uncertaintity you will experience with love and about the unknown of the future...
anonymous Apr 26th, 2012 4:03pm report
I think that the song is talking about government keeping citzens blind. It is told by a person who starts to realise that they are being controlled and tries to tell someone. The "snow" in the beginning blinds and hides them. The people who watched them, and the "idiots on show" aretheir government leaders. The people know that they are idiots, but they can't really do anything about it. The banks becoming cathedrals says that religion will step into everything we do. The religion also brings "fog" and "rifles", which represent blindness and violence. He talks about being a soldier on a sinking ship. He fights for a country that he knows is a bad place. He just wants the girl he loves to tell him before he is forced to die for something he doesn't like.
anonymous Mar 21st, 2012 3:38pm report
Violet Hill is quite a deep and meaningful song to me. Though it has loads of interpretations, I see it as meaning more than just the "political propaganda. " It can mean one of two things - either symbolic of a one sided love, or complete hate. Whenever I hear this song I truly believe the "real meaning" is put at the end for a reason- so the listener won't forget the importance. As it states " I took my love to violet hill. There we sat in the snow. All that time she was silent still. If you love me, won't you let me know. If you Iove me wont you let me know." This indicates to me a false sense of hope.. When all along the meaning of the song had been "death" and "disrespect." The song is representative of a waste of time, and life, along with excessive feelings of regret and hopelessness.
This song also makes me think of some of life's most "hateful situations", One of which is World War II. There are many stories of German officers who fell in love with Jewsih woman before the war. However, ultimately the truth unfolded as to just how "hateful people can be." As one of the most meaningful lines indicates "It was a dark and cold December, from the rooftops I remember there was snow. White snow. Clearly I remember from the rooftops they were watching while We froze, down below. When the future architected by a carnival of idiots on show, you better lie low. If you love me, wont you let me know." The song goes on to say "If you love me, why'd you let me go." Obviously this individual had trusted someone only to find out they did not care. In fact, they didn't only "not care" they were the First to inflict pain.
I was listening to this today, and it occurred to me that maybe it's about the French revolution.
"It was a long and dark December, from the rooftops I remember there was snow, white snow"- This could be referring to the harsh weather in the years leading up to the outbreak of revolution- not only the severe winters, but also the freak hailstorms, both of which destroyed crops, and so froze the economy- something that I think's referred to again later on in the song. The emphasis on "white" could be a link to the Bourbon family of France- while these harsh conditions were affecting the general French population, the Bourbon family (whose colour was white, and who are still symbolised today by the white strip on the French flag, separating the blue and red, which are Paris' traditional colours) were in a completely different situation to everyone else- shown again by the contrast between the "long and dark december"- ie the harsh conditions- and the "white snow", which would generally be associated with pleasant images.
The idea of the French revolution theme continues further in the next line: "Clearly I remember, from the windows they were watching while we froze down below". This could be repeating the idea of those higher up (in this case, the Bourbon family of France in their palace at Versailles, miles away from the horror of day-to-day life, as well as the upper class nobles in the French ancien regime)knowing- watching- what was happening from above, but while they were comfortable, were unprepared to do anything about it.
The next line, "When the future's architectured by a carnival of idiots on show, you'd better lie low", could refer to the time where Louis XVI refused to allow the third estate deputies of the estates general to meet with the two higher classes, and so the government fell into a long period of nothing happening, as the third estate refused to take action until voting by head (and not by order)was permitted by the king. In other words, this line could be taken from the point of view of the third estate, who saw the upper classes as "idiots" who were governing the future of France, and so refused to do anything about it ("lying low"). An alternative view to this, although making less sense if the song is in chronological order, is the idea of the terror that took place in France- while several theories and movements are flying around Paris, everyone is sick of revolution and war and fighting, are unsure of what to believe- and so leave their opinions aside, "lying low" so as to avoid the guillotine, commonly used throughout the terror to behead opponents of Robespierre's regime.
"If you love me, won't you let me know"- I assume this is in the voice of the general Parisian public, who are crying out for help from their King but receiving nothing.
"Was a long and dark December, when the banks became cathedrals and the fog became God"- again, a reference to the long and hard conditions that living in the revolution brought with it. The part about banks becoming cathedrals, in my view, is symbolising the extreme economic crisis the government were facing, that was only getting worse as the revolution continued, and the royal treasury was declared bankrupt. The last line, "...fog became God", is most likely to do with the enlightenment, which was beginning to question the things that Ancien Regime France had been based upon up until revolution- the enlightenment began to question why tradition was so important, and took a more scientific approach, therefore undermining the foundations of the Ancien Regime- and so leaving people unsure of what to believe.
"Priests clutched onto bibles hollowed out to fit their rifles and the cross was held aloft"- Assuming the lyrics are so far referring to the French revolution at all, this verse is dedicated to the idea of the church and government of France becoming completely separate as a result of revolution. As the third estate gained power and supporters, the wealthier members of the clergy who did not want to give up their privileges in society were left with one defence only- to try and gain supporters through a common belief, and suggest that anybody going against them were going against God, too. There was a divide amongst the clergy due to wealth, and as a result, each side almost ended up fighting one another, as metaphorically inferred in the lyrics.
"Bury me in honour when I'm dead and hit the ground, a love back home it unfolds"- I think this is talking about the numbers of people dying from defending their cause during the reign of terror, through the guillotine- "hitting the ground" could be symbolising the head of each person hitting the ground. The "love back home" could refer to the grief left behind in the families of those dying for the French revolution, and the "unfolding" could mean the continuation of these relatives for the cause their loved one died for. An alternative explanation would be that the verse is said from Louis XVI, once he realises that he will die as a result of the revolution- "bury me in honour when I'm dead and hit the ground" meaning that he wants to be remembered well after his death, which would link well with his resignation towards the end of the revolution as he let the events take their course, knowing he was able to do little to stop them- and the "a love back home, it unfolds" talking about leaving Marie Antionette behind, the events of the revolution left to "unfold" before her when he was gone.
"If you love me, won't you let me know?" Again, in my opinion, a cry for help from the people of Paris, but this time from anyone, be it Louis XVI or the new form of government.
"I don't want to be a soldier, who the captain of some sinking ship would stow, far below"- This may refer to Louis, again- while his power seems to be falling dramatically (the "sinking ship"), he doesn't want to be remembered as insignificant by whoever succeeds him in power.
"So if you love me, why'd you let me go?"- This could be taken one of two ways. This could be the Parisian population again, asking why the King didn't step in to help them before things got out of hand. Alternatively, it could be in the voice of Louis, asking why his own people would choose to behead him when he hadn't caused the unfortunate situation himself.
"I took my love down to violet hill, there we sat in the snow. All that time she was silent still, so if you love me, won't you let me know?" The idea of "violet hill" could be a metaphor for the blood spilt in the revolution- in this particular case, I think the verse is about the eventual beheading of Marie Antionette. If taken from the viewpoint of a dead Louis XVI, he could be talking about he and his wife being sat in their own mess (the white of the snow being their familys colour), the "violet hill" being a metaphor for the blood spilt during the revolution- if taken together, the violet and the white suggest a death in the Bourbon family. The reason I believe it refers to Marie Antionettes death is that it says "all that time she was silent still", and the line at the end of the song "if you love me, won't you let me know?", repeated again, makes it sound as though Louis would have to repeat himself, as she was still silent- possibly angry for the mess that he'd allowed the country to get into, which, had it not have happened, would not have lead to both of their early deaths.
This is just an interpretation, though. It seems to fit to me- supported by the fact that the album cover of Viva la Vida, which the song appears on, depicts a scene from the French revolution.
anonymous Aug 2nd, 2011 8:23pm report
How can they be talking about fox news when they are an English band and fox is american
anonymous Mar 26th, 2011 3:33am report
Fight for God, not man. Period.
anonymous Feb 20th, 2011 2:32pm report
I think you are right about most things in you report but there are some mistake (1 it is "fox become god" aka fox news (2 cnn is not liberal the are center msnbc is leberal and fox is conservertive and finally not sue if it was a father and son or a boyfriend and girfrien that he was sing about.
anonymous Feb 4th, 2011 2:18pm report
I seldom leave comments on blog, but I have been to this post which was recommended by my friend, lots of valuable details, thanks again.
anonymous Jan 20th, 2011 1:14pm report
Shouldn't be "and the Fox became god"?!
Aka. Fox news??
anonymous Oct 22nd, 2010 10:15pm report
with your interpretation, i didn't see any indications of how you came to the conclusion that it was about a boy and his father. if this was the relationship, however, where does the "she" come into in the line "all that time she was silent still"? I'm not meaning to come across as purely criticizing you, im just curious for other opinions on the song.
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