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. anonymous
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    Feb 3rd 2011 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.

  2. swhit
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    Feb 2nd 2011 report

    I believe it is a warning for those in power. You can play God but it will be short lived because there is no truth in your intentions. You use lies to fool us, but the people will see through the facade by your actions. You cannot win only the people can win and he sees that now. Now he wishes there was a God to show him mercy.

  3. anonymous
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    Jan 27th 2011 report

    This song is about Pontius Pilate who had seen the rise of Christ yet never will enter Heaven for sentencing Jesus to death "I know Saint Peter wont call my name" yet he is immune to damnation in hell leaving him stuck in Purgatory making him immortal the song title is Viva La Vida meaning "long live life" meaning he cant die.

    "Jerusalem Bells a' ringing
    Roman cavalry choirs are singing"
    Pilate ruled Jerusalem as a prefect for the Roman Empire.(i live in Jerusalem and there are almost no bells BTW)

    All the rest of the song is addressed to Pilate lust for power and control.

    "Be my mirror my sword and shield
    My mercenaries in foreign field."
    is a reference to the Galilee where Jesus was from which is described as a shield of the Valleys a sword of its Mt. Tabor and the reflection of the Galilee Sea.
    Palestinian Mercenaries were used to conquer the Galilee because they knew it much better then the Romans.

  4. anonymous
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    Jan 7th 2011 report

    Just found this page, also wondered about meaning of this song, as you listen to it, you do want know what words about. I agree with the person "UpPastMidnight" view that isn't really about Jesus. I think I want read up on King Louis XVI now to see what happened to him. I also wonder who wrote song, was it the musicians or a ghost writer. Wish we could get answer from the writer.

  5. anonymous
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    Jan 3rd 2011 report

    The song is about Michael Vick. He had it all and lost it and went to jail.

  6. anonymous
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    Dec 15th 2010 report

    I think its about the French Revolution, or some kind of French king becuse it's got lots of references to ruling the world. The reason I think French is because the name of the song is Viva La Vida which is French.

  7. anonymous
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    Nov 12th 2010 report

    It is about how power can destroy you and change you! You cannot always get your way and be a king! Learn to live

  8. chilled.momo
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    Nov 8th 2010 report

    by the way i gotta tell that ((Revelotionaries wait for my head on a silver plate )) means that revalotionaries wana cut the luis XVI head off not about baptism of jesus i guess if it was about that phrase, never bringe REVELOTIONARIES.

  9. chilled.momo
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    Nov 8th 2010 report

    I guess this song is about a reverse in every persons life not just luis XVI.
    and also it completly shows that its not realated jesus christ of course!
    by the way its cavarly not calvary their diffrent in pronunciation!

  10. anonymous
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    Oct 23rd 2010 report

    It has a double meaning. One is the historical perspective that powerful people abuse their power and fall, as do the young, who do not appreciate the old - but by the time you get old...and the end is near...everyone starts to think that they may not be called by St Peter...just like those with poor choices in leading others (Louis XVI)etc

  11. anonymous
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    Sep 5th 2010 report

    I think it's about a guy who used to be kind of a mob boss, but he became to arrogant and was "dethroned". He's comparing it to the French Revolution.

  12. anonymous
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    Jul 3rd 2010 report

    Possible interpretation of VIVA LA VIDA by COLDPLAY.
    Based off what the artist may have been referring to in the Bible. Please remember the song doesn’t tell the Bible, the Bible tells the Bible. The song just gives references to parts of the Bible. For complete story please read the Bible and not just the song.


    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

    1. In the beginning of time, as stated in Genesis, God stated "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness" (Gen 1:26). OUR and US refers to God the father, God the Son (Christ), and God the Spirit (Holy Spirit). Being present with God in the beginning, Christ was the ruler of the world, pre-existence.
    2. In the Gospel books (Mark 4:39), it gives mention to Christ calming the seas, showing that he had power over the waters just by speaking to them. Hence “Seas would rise when I gave the word”.
    3. On the morning of the third day Christ was resurrected from the dead no longer dwelling amongst men (whether alive or in death) therefore he slept "alone" (Matthew 27 and 28).
    4. From ruling the world to now having the responsibility of "cleaning or sweeping" (aka saving) the world that Christ was once a ruler over. Also, in another light the artist could have meant that as, sweep the nation trying to find people who will believe that HE once ruled the world and shall forever more.

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


    1. Rolling the dice could refer to Christ leaving his fate in the hands of his oppressors. Letting them decide what to do during his trial. (Matthew 27:22)
    2. Feeling the fear in my enemy's eyes, possibly meaning the fear in Satan's eyes that Pilate was beginning to state that Jesus doesn't deserve to die. He washed his hands in the matter (Matthew 27:24). This could have meant that Satan's attack on destroying Christ could have been dissipated. Also, it could refer to fear in the ruler’s eyes that this man (Christ) could cause uproar because the people wanted him dead. If the governor didn't deliver this could have meant trouble for the ruler.
    3. (and 4) During Christ's torture, before death, the crowds would mock him as being the fake messiah. Saying never mind to the actual Kings of Earth, but mockingly saying, Hail, King of the Jews (meaning Christ, knowing that he was about to be crucified. Matt 27:29). Also, over his head, on the cross, the crowd put "THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS" in a blasphemous mocking statement. After his death, ironically, a Roman centurion actually feared realized that Christ was actually the king and stated, "TRULY THIS WAS THE SON OF GOD" (Matt 27:54)
    5. (Matt 16:19) Christ gave Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Not literally, but symbolically he based his statement off of Peter acknowledging him as the Son of God. In which is the foundation of the church. “Upon this rock, I will build my church”.
    6. (7, 8) Walls (meaning his grave) closed in on him, but his castles (the "Kingdom of God, aka the various locations of HIS church establishment") will remain. Acts 17:24 - God's temple is not one made with hands. Luke 21:23 - Heaven and earth shall pass but my words shall not pass away. Finally, Matthew 16:18 - And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. -- This all describes that the "CASTLE" will remain through his TEACHING and not end with his death. This is why we call it a testament. (Last will and testament)


    I hear Jerusalem bells a ringing
    Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
    Be my mirror my sword and shield
    My missionaries in a foreign field
    For some reason I can't explain
    I know St. Peter won't call my name
    Once you know there was never, never an honest word
    That was when I ruled the world

    1. (and 2) This part may refer to the rejoicing of saved souls as the souls repent (Luke 15:10). You have to envision after Christ’s death that people are going to spread the news of what happened. Through his death he was exonerated. (It is kind of like how celebrity deaths are now-a-days.)
    3 “Be my mirror" is being the reflection of Christ or striving to be Christ like and copy his mission of spreading the word of God. "Sword and Shield" refers to the "ARMOR of God" (Ephesians 6:13-17) The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God --- the Shield of Faith. Christ taught through his apostle Paul for followers of Christ to take up the armor and spread the Gospel. The song makes reference to taking the Bible and having faith to be able to do so! (Very encouraging!!).
    4 After Christ's resurrection, he stated for all of us to go into all the nations. (Mark 16:15).
    5 (and 6) In Matthew 26:69-75, we see that Peter denies being an associate of Christ's (three times actually) and in the chorus it makes reference to Peter not speaking an honest word, while Christ was on this earth, during the end of His life.


    It was the wicked and wild wind
    Blew down the doors to let me in
    Shattered windows and the sound of drums
    People couldn't believe what I'd become
    Revolutionaries wait
    For my head on a silver plate
    Just a puppet on a lonely string
    Oh who would ever wanna be king?

    1. (2 and 3) Wicked and Wild winds could refer to the time of Death for Christ. IN Matt 27:50-53 -- It tries to paint a picture of the events. In the bible there was an earthquake and somehow the curtains of the temple were ripped from top to bottom, (usually the only way curtains can tear like that is have great force that is where the wicked and wild winds would come in). Then the graves/memorials opened and the dead arose. In the song, I believe that it is symbolic of Christ entering into the "Death" stage where he would be for the next three days.
    4. Matt 28:10. Christ told them to fear not, as though they were not in belief of what they were seeing.
    5. (6 and 7) Matthew 14 -- Talks about how Herod heard about Jesus and thought that John the Baptist was going to be as “gifted” as Jesus. But, after deliberation with his daughter she wanted the head of John the Baptist on a silver platter. Basically, they were being revolutionaries to the concept of Jesus, so they killed John in the way they did just because the great things John did were similar to Christ’s.
    8 The puppet part could refer to Christ knowing what God's plan was and still carrying it out knowing that people were going to put him to death. The artist (Coldplay) throws in a since of disgust to the equations with "Who would ever want to be king". Under these circumstances we see the awesomeness of Christ and how the world just did him wrong.

  13. zaz_zax
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    Jun 17th 2010 report

    I am from Mexico and when we say VIVA LA VIDA is not the translation LIVE YOUR LIFE. It actually means Hurray for life

  14. anonymous
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    May 22nd 2010 report

    I see this as a song about a guy who has just broken up with his significant other. It is generally possible to apply this interpretation, which I will attempt to do stanza-by-stanza in the following paragraphs.

    In the first stanza, the narrator describes the basic premise of the song: "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." While this could be a ruler who has lost power, it could also be just a description of how the narrator felt powerful and secure when he was in a relationship, and now that the relationship has ended, he feels alone and humbled. The reference to "sleeping alone" especially suggests the end of a close personal relationship.

    The lines "I used to roll the dice / Feel the fear in my enemy's eyes / Listened as the crowd would sing / Now the old king is dead long live the king," while not particularly suggestive of the breakup interpretation, can be interpreted as merely expanding on the idea of feeling powerful and secure. The following lines describe the narrator's loss of his position, describing how "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". These lines are non-specific as a figurative description of the narrator's downfall.

    The first chorus begins with the lines "I hear Jerusalem bells are ringing / Roman Cavalry choirs are singing / Be my mirror my sword and shield / My missionaries in a foreign field". The direct address of the listener, asking him or her to support the narrator, strongly suggests the breakup interpretation. The narrator asks the listener to be a mirror, reflecting himself and granting self-awareness; a sword and shield, again describing the power and security he felt when in the relationship; and "missionaries in a foreign field", i.e., a representative, guide, and/or companion in the unfamiliar territory of everyday life. The following lines, "For some reason I can't explain / Once you were gone there was never / Never an honest word / But that was when I ruled the world," link the unknown listener whom the narrator is addressing to the narrator's downfall. This supports the breakup interpretation, especially the reference to "once you were gone". Once the relationship had ended, the narrator felt there was no one he could trust to be honest, perhaps not even himself.

    The next stanza is a little harder to interpret. The lines "It was a wicked and wild wind / Blew down the doors to let me in / Shattered windows and the sound of drums / People couldn't believe what I'd become" suggest that the narrator became self-absorbed and overconfident during the relationship. The next lines lament his downfall and newly-made enemies, describing how "Revolutionaries wait / For my head on a silver plate / Just a puppet on a lonely string / Oh who would ever wanna be king?" Again, the reference to loneliness is consistent with the breakup interpretation. The narrator feels alone and vulnerable now that he is without his partner.

    The second repetition of the chorus repeats the first four lines of the chorus, then ends somewhat ambiguously with the lines, "For some reason I can't explain / I know St. Peter won't call my name / Never an honest word / But that was when I ruled the world." These lines conclude with a tone of regret, and possibly of a past that cannot be restored. However, the repeated appeal for a companion, coupled with the phrase "But that was when I ruled the world" suggest that the narrator has changed from his former self and is repentant of his previous overconfidence.

  15. Constantine1960
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    May 14th 2010 report

    The key to this song is the double title: Viva la Vida - long live life - Death and his friends.

    There seem to be two kings representing the futility of absolute power: one who is finally defeated on the field of battle and is sent into humiliating exile - Napoleon, and one who was undefeated on the battlefield but succumbed to an early death (and thus now hangs out with "Death and his friends" - Alexander the Great.

    Another clue is the double phrase "pillars of salt and pillars of sand". salt is probably a reference to Napoleon: the salt tax was a major gripe for the French revolutionaries (represented by the image on the album cover) and may also represent his victories in Austria - which has an important city named Salzberg - but which he could not make stick.

    Pillars of Sand may be an Alexander reference. The great city in Egypt named for him in surrounded by salt desserts, as is the capital where few people know he died, Babylon, evoking the sandy desserts of the middle east. Babylon also evokes the bible, etc.

    Martin is very well read so this is within the realm of possibility (he studied classical greek and may have read texts about Alexander).

    PS Martin said the main title was inspired Frida Kahlo's artistic statement, which I imagine was her response to the Futurists (a proto-Fascist 20th century movement) slogan: Long Live Death




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