What does Viva La Vida mean?

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Coldplay: Viva La Vida Meaning

Song Released: 2008


Covered By: Taylor Swift


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Viva La Vida Lyrics

I used to rule the world
Seas would rise when I gave the word
Now in the morning I sleep alone
Sweep the streets I used to own

I used to roll the dice
Feel the fear in my enemy's eyes
Listen as the crowd would sing
Now the old king is...

  1.  

    Izalixe Straightheart
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    Aug 1st, 2011 8:24pm report


    But of course, we can always take events in History to make a parallel and comparison to current events, thus making this song both about the French Revolution, and modern times & America's "power" claim over other countries. ;)



  2.  

    Izalixe Straightheart
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    Aug 1st, 2011 8:21pm report


    What you forgot is that before Louis XVI was beheaded, he was imprisoned for some time. Maybe that's when he's reflecting on "when he ruled the world". So he WAS still alive... in a cell.. metaphorically "sweeping the streets" he used to own, sleeping alone without Marie Antoinette and his children. "Never an honest word" fits this couple who had affairs and were never comfortable to be intimate together [it took many years after their marriage for them to sleep together, and rumour had it that one or more of Marie Antoinette's children [especially Louis Joseph, the dauphin, who died at a young age of illness] were fathered by Axel de Fersen or other lovers of the queen. The "revolutionaries" of the french revolution of 1793 DID "shatter the windows" of the Versailles palace and almost got their hands on the royal couple & children with knifes, axes and any weapon they could find to try and kill them on the spot, the royals barely escaped with their lives only to be caught on later when someone recognized them in a small village where their escort had stopped after days of riding in a vain attempt to escape. Also, note "I held the key". It is a known fact that Louis XVI had key-making as a hobby and often preferred this odd occupation to the company of Marie Antoinette, who resented him for it. They did die in rags, poor, destitute, dirty. I think we have enough elements to say this song is about Louis XVI. ;)



  3.  

    anonymous
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    Jul 19th, 2011 7:53am report


    I have no claim to knowing the exact *intended* meaning of this song; however, I *choose* to interpret it as referring to the recent fall from grace that the Americans and British have had. The song could apply to George Bush and/or Tony Blair, both of whom supported the war in Iran (which can be viewed as a holy war of Christians versus Islam), both held enormous power ("Leader of the Free World"), and both were ultimately dethroned in disgrace. Many interpret this as being the beginning of the end for the American powers, much like the fall of any other empire.



  4.  

    anonymous
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    Jul 18th, 2011 7:18pm report


    Viva La Vida, contrary to the Top-Rated interpretation, actually in Spanish means "Live the Life". If it was "long live life", I'd have lost a sliver of respect for this song which would've been tragic. Before you corrupt other's minds with false translations from Spanish to English, do take at least a middle school class on the language.



  5.  

    Pranshu Negi
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    Jul 18th, 2011 7:56am report


    well actually i personally think its all about the Tsar of Russia....as the Russia ws the biggest empire & had it's borders spread to vast lands...also the revolution took place there

    If u closely notice the lyrics
    "I know Saint Peter won't call my name"

    Saint peter refers to St. Peters-burg, which was the capital of Russia before Moscow....

    Don't u think??????????



  6.  

    anonymous
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    Jul 13th, 2011 7:52pm report


    I believe this is about the Catholic Church and Christ originally having put his church on the earth with the keys of the preisthood or authority to act in God's behalf. This is the authority by which Christ commanded the seas in scripture. After Christ's death the Apostles carried on but one by one they were put to death. "Revolutionaries call for my head" . I don't believe this reference is about Christ but the authority which he holds. The Catholic Church with the apostles had this power but when the apostles were persecuted and killed all the power was taken left the earth with them. The Catholic Church continued without this power and without direct revelation... "one miniute I held the key (autority, power)discovered castles were sand and pillars of salt..foundation upon which the church was founded was gone and so began it change. There's scripture where Christ asks Peter who do you think I am? and Peter responds you are Christ. Then Christ asks Peter "how do you know this?" and Peter says through the Holy Spirit and revelation. Christ states "Upon this rock I will build my Church" The rock represents direct revelation to guide the church which when the preisthood is gone direct revelation is also gone.People couldn't believe what I'd become. This is were the Crusades enter and the Inquisition. THe Niacine Council to determine exactly what the church believed, the revelation and authority was gone.It was no longer the church that Christ had put in place before his death. St Peter (reference to the Catholic Church)won't call his name because Christ no longer knows the church or recognizes it. The truth is never heard because it is no longer known with the revelation gone. The church kept the Bible from the common man until the printing press. The scriptures were interpreted to mean what the leaders wanted in order to control the people. The painting on the cover is titled Liberty Leading the People. Only the truth can set you free. There are absolute truths and we each have to find those truths for ourselves.



  7.  

    anonymous
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    Jun 30th, 2011 6:55pm report


    What initially chimed with about this song was that it sounded like a song about a Latin dictator falling from grace. For me the use of christian terminology is a clue that this dominion is a Catholic one.

    As civil subversion was commonplace under Latin American dictatorship and in some cases revolutionaries overthrew right-wing dictators such as in Cuba and Nicaragua.

    Dictators such as these and in other third world states where termed as 'puppet governments' (ref '...puppet on a lonely string')as they usually had a sponsor from a leading power to back them. In Latin America's case, during the cold war, it was usually the United States. Furthermore, look at the video for 'Viva La Vida'. Chris Martin is pretending to be a puppet; suggesting that the dictator in this song is at the mercy of a higher power.

    However, I think that the only flaw to my arguement (or perhaps the lyrics) is that when dictators such as these were overthrown, they usually fled to the countries of their sponsors along with a big chunk of state assets. the certainly wouldn't have been sweeping any streets!



  8.  

    anonymous
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    May 28th, 2011 5:30am report


    Viva la Vida is about a king who had everything, but lost it momentarily. Now he is reflecting on it.( I used to rule the world, seas would rise when I gave the word. Now in the mornings I sleep alone, sweep the street I used to own) He used to be in command, ( I used to role the dice,) and his power was much greater than his enemies. ( , feel the fear in my enemies eyes.) in the beginning, his people loved him. But power brings greediness. One muinet he held the key to success, and the next he was trapped. He discovered he had been doing everything wrong ( pillars of salt and sand). The king was big on religion. His mightiness became wild with greed and did a bad job. He was aware of this, and he didn't want to be king anymore. He wasn't an honest king. In the end, he lost his power, strength, and popularity. You can lose every thing if your not careful. Either you do a good job or a bad job. 'Viva la Vida' translates to Spanish as 'Live The Life' which fits the song well.



  9.  

    anonymous
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    May 25th, 2011 5:45am report


    The song is not only about how power corrupts and betrays it's wielder, but also about how those who give power won't take their responsibility for bad kings and following them, but in stead pay for their own innocence with the blood of the ruler.

    "I used to roll the dice
    Feel the fear in my enemy's eyes
    Listen as the crowd would sing
    'Now the old king is dead! Long live the king!'"

    The monarch makes his decisions with foolhardy determination, as he has no choice but to fulfill his part as a leader. He's drunken with power and cannot hear the bloodthirsty implication of how only way away from power is by death.

    'One minute I held the key
    Next the walls were closed on me
    And I discovered that my castles stand
    Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand'

    The walls of the monarchs castle, his symbol of power and his to own, suddenly turn against him as without the control over doors, walls make for nothing but a prison. Sand is obvious reference to instability, but salt might refer to the mercilessness of his followers when things go wrong. Notice the tale about Lot's wife, which could imply that the reason the monarch failed is partly because his orders were not integrally carried out. Reminds me of evasion of taxes in today's democracies.

    'I hear Jerusalem bells a-ringing
    Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
    Be my mirror, my sword and shield
    My missionaries in a foreign field'

    I dare not go here too deeply, 'bells ringing' for instance could really call for either destruction, protection or conquest of the holy city. And to sing might be with it or against it. But mirror, sword and shield annotates trust, possibly the kind he has no right to demand as he works in a foreign field. Or then, maybe he has. Either case, for conquest, it would be necessary, the question is: whose will it is to conquer in the first place, the monarch's or the peoples'? Or is it all just a meaningless tragedy of working for a destructive machine of working "for" each other?

    I'd like to think the latter, keeping in mind this:
    'For some reason I can't explain
    Once you go there was never
    Never an honest word
    And that was when I ruled the world'

    Who REALLY would want to be a king? To be just a puppet, on a lonely string ready to snap with a single cut.

    PS: Go ahead and listen to 'Tears For Fears - Everybody Wants To Rule The World' with this in mind. I find the resemblance uncanny.



  10.  

    anonymous
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    Apr 29th, 2011 4:43pm report


    I am spanish so i know that "Viva la Vida" is "Long Live Life". Don't trust the stupid translated



  11.  

    anonymous
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    Mar 27th, 2011 3:31am report


    It can be translated in many ways. To me, it's about Hitler. In the first stanza,you can imagine Hitler looking out on the now ruined city of Berlin. The second stanza refers to his early conquests, his greatest enemies (Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin) and his peak of glory. Third stanza: He could've won the war but he lost that chance and his enemies used it against him. His Nazi empire started to crumble. his ghost watches as the Jewish state, Israel,comes into existence and people celebrating the victory. Mirror, sword and shield are his allies. His missionaries are those propagandists like Goebbels. He knows that everyone had been lying to him all that while. The wicked wind was his mother's death. Shattered windows could be on Kristalnacht and obviously the world was shocked by his actions. Guerrillas wanted to kill him. He was just a tool of the devil. He regrets his reign. St. Peter of course won't let him in and he wanders off into the streets of Berlin...



  12.  

    anonymous
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    Mar 23rd, 2011 3:20pm report


    i think it's julius caesar, the Roman emperor. Guys can it really be jesus though? i mean "i used to roll the dice feel the fear in my enemies eyes" and "i couldn't believe what i'd become" doesn't sound like jesus to me.



  13.  

    anonymous
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    Mar 13th, 2011 3:41am report


    IMO could just as easily be about the russian revolution, thats the way i've always thought of it.



  14.  

    anonymous
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    Mar 10th, 2011 3:10am report


    I that these are all very reasonable interpretations of the song. Another would be in relationship to Shakespeare's Macbeth. I am not sure I 100% agree with this but there are some good points. Obviously Macbeth was a king who lost control of his kingdom and people, and the singer seems to relate to him. For instance, in the line, "Revolutionaries wait for my head on a silver plate" you can see the direct correlation to Macbeth as Malcom and Macduff are trying to kill Macbeth and reclaim the throne, and even end up decapitating him at the end. The line after that: "Just a puppet on a lonely string" could refer to the fact that in the beginning he takes orders from his wife, Lady Macbeth, and how he doesn't really have any real friends especially after he killed Banquo. Finally, the line "I discovered that my castles stand upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand" can represent how Macbeth's rule didn't really have any foundation (how it crumble as soon as it was threatened) and how all of Macbeth's soldiers didn't follow him out of love or loyalty, rather only because they were ordered to. While there are a lot of similarities, it is very possible that this is coincidence as it seems to relate to many different stories of kings. :)



  15.  

    anonymous
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    Feb 3rd, 2011 2:04am report


    To specific, songs are meant to be given a general theme like in the first one. Enjoy your gifts while they are still there.






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