What does White Shadows mean?

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Coldplay: White Shadows Meaning


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Song Released: 2007

White Shadows Lyrics

When I was a young boy I tried to listen
And I wanna feel like that
Little white shadows, blink and miss them
Part of a system I am

If you ever feel like something's missing?
Things you'll never understand
Little white shadows, sparkle...


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    Nov 3rd, 2008 11:31pm report

    I've always thought this song was about a 1984-esque dystopia, but I think that's just me.
    Let me explain.

    So, the "white shadows" are where the complete brainwashing of society has begun to break for the singer. Like in the novel The Giver when the main character begins to see color against the will of the government oppressors. He's wondering if something's missing that he doesn't understand. These little thought glitches sparkle and glisten, but he's part of a system.

    He says he's waking up to realize that he's a human being taking up space in a world he's previously never questioned. His assumptions (forced on him by society) are breaking up.

    His society obviously came into place because the people were insecure. They thought they knew everything they ever wanted, so they got it... In a permanent state.

    But this singer remembers when he was a young boy and his mind was open to listening. Something it has since been closed to.

    He's recognizing that this sea of humanity he's in is being manipulated. He claims to need an answer that maybe these white shadows can provide.

    All in all, this is just an overview of my opinion on the true meaning of this song. Maybe it will encourage new thought in the future.


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    Jul 22nd, 2008 7:05am report

    I also think this song is about our selfishness and materialism of society, but also about the sense of being here and changing your view on life.

    "When I was a young boy I tried to listen
    And I wanna feel like that
    Little white shadows
    blink and miss them ..."

    Children's view on life is different - they're innocent, honest and hold life in a different life's esteem.
    The singer misses this state of mind.

    "If you ever feel like something's missing
    Things you'll never understand
    Little white shadows
    Sparkle and glisten
    Part of a system, a plan"

    People just don't know what they're actually missing - but it's those "little white shadows, sparkle and glisten". The small things that are important.
    Like said before, "part of a system, a plan" shows the longing for something bigger...

    "Maybe you'll get what you wanted, maybe you'll stumbled upon it, everything you ever wanted, In a permanent state"
    Shows the selfishness and materialism of society.
    Like someone already said "stumble" shows we live our life in a blind way, only seeing the things we want to have...

    "Swim out on a sea of faces
    Tide of the human races"

    Kin of shows the abundance we're living in...
    The singer wants to escape from all the mass, the crowd of people.

    "an answer now is what I need...

    See it in a new sun rising
    See it break on your horizon "

    He needs a different view/ a clear view on his life because the mass of men and their selfishness made him see not clearly enough, so I guess he wants to find out what life is actually about and which things are really estimable.

    I'm sorry for (grammar) mistakes - English isn't my mother tongue. I tried my best to put my thoughts into words and hope it makes sense. ;-)


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    Nov 17th, 2006 11:38am report

    I feel this song is about a search for meaning/fulfillment and belonging to something that is bigger than ourselves.
    White shadows sparkle *maybe* like stars which while individual are part of a whole. "blink and miss them" could be that somethings are ellusive or short lived. "maybe you'll stumble upon it" also shows the blind way we live our lives and maybe we need to keep that openminded innocence of childhood.


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    Oct 2nd, 2014 10:58pm report

    i think that this song is really meaningful, it represents something stronger, or at least i think so, i think it means that were always looking for something more, we feel as though were only taking up space and we don't belong, we want something more to life but you then realize this is what you have. It represents us as humans living in this world. My take on the song


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    May 28th, 2014 5:08am report

    This one is simple.

    There is more to life than our five senses are capable of picking up. When you are a child that 'dormant' sixth sense is kinda turned on. I remember having voices in my head as a toddler..imaginary friends? I too tried to Listen but the voices didn't make sense.

    We grow up and the voices fade but the little white shadows are there..open your eyes, take your blinkers off and you will see them.



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    Mar 1st, 2013 3:47am report

    I have given the song my own interpretation.

    Tommorow i will ask a girl out, something that i have never done before really, i have but not in the way i will tommorow, i will finally do it "for real" if you will.

    When it says "when i was a young boy" i take it as my memories of when i used to see others do what i couldnt because i was shy or any other reason such as dating.

    "little white shadows sparkle and glisten" brings to mind the awesome ideas that served as shadows everywhere i went of what i could become...instead of the dark shadow we almost always see...

    Then when it says" maybe you will get what you wanted, maybe you will stumble upon it, everything you ever wanted it in a permanent state"

    Get what i wanted= A Great possibility of a relationship with a girl.

    Stumble upon it= i stumbled upon this girl, shes a stranger that caused a enormous impression on me

    everything you ever wanted in a permanent state= all i wanted which was a girl in a permanent state such as real life, not imagination!!1

    So as u can see it totally ties up with my situation!


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    Mar 31st, 2012 3:28pm report

    This song bleeds my brain trying to inteprete.i just think its about the fear of the unknown as we progress through lifes uncertainties and unpredictabilities


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    Jan 19th, 2011 1:23am report

    I recently heard about a theory that says the leaders of the world are trying to permanently damage the human brain, through chemicals in food and other things. The theory says human brain could perceive things as ghosts, energies and auras, and that some people still can do it (they keep the primitive brain).
    If that theory is right (or even if it's not), I think White Shadows refers to that. When he was a kid, he could see those energies (kids are always more perceptive), and he misses that ability because he lost it to the conspiracy. And all the "system plan", "waking up", and "we're part of the entire Universe" parts... is like he's telling us to wake up and see the truth, to realize what's been taken from us and do something about it. Just read those lyrics! Oh my.


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    Dec 18th, 2010 12:00pm report

    I think that this song deals with religion- it says that he tried to listen, and that planets and outer space and we are part of a system plan. although, Chris is a atheist, so he could mean that he believed when he was young....


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    May 24th, 2009 5:13am report

    There could be several interpretations but for me it is referencing true love. Maybe we don't wait to find the right person or when we do we can't bare to accept that anything could be so perfect so we don't trust our feelings and let it pass. On those rare happenings when two people are drawn together and magically know that they belong together. It is intuitive... It is being in touch with our inocent side ...the side that gets spoilt by negative experiences as we walk on through life. The conversation is between two people who have found something that was missing..everything they ever wanted from a partner.....in a permanent place ...meaning forever despite their current circumstances. The white shadows are there if we look for them..the glitter of hope.


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    Apr 1st, 2008 4:57pm report

    This song is a tribute to Gwyneth Paltrow's father, Bruce Paltrow, the famous Hollywood producer. Among the many shows to his credit was the '70s comedy-drama, The White Shadow, which was about a white high school basketball coach with a team full of black players. Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin is married to Gwyneth Paltrow; Bruce Paltrow died in 2002. (thanks, Raj - Atlanta, GA)


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    Mar 30th, 2007 3:27pm report

    Ummm, actually people, "White Shadows" is about Coldplay's position in the American spotlight.
    He's being ambivalent.
    "Swimming on a sea of faces" . . . . Fans.
    "Little white shadows" . . . . . . . Camera Flashes.
    "All this space I'm taking up,
    All this sound is breakin' up" . . . The Flurry of Stardom.


    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway


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    Oct 17th, 2006 10:23pm report

    I feel this song means that no matter what you do it`ll all work out ok. That you are just following the path that you were meant to follow in this crazy life you lead. It had to happen and now it is over, whether it was your fault or someone elses, we all make mistakes and in the end it won`t really matter. It`s over and it will be ok.


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    Oct 14th, 2006 10:26am report

    Just a thought to the actual meaning of the song, I believe the white shadows have something to do with the good intentions of people. Most of you will admit that we people have mainly carnal desires we are selfish. And when we do something good it casts a white shadow that people can see. "feel like somethings missing" could be alluding to the enjoyment you get when you do something good. "maybe youll get what you wanted" reinforces that you are selfish. All this noise I'm waking up could refer to all the problems in the world that singer is just now starting to see. All that space I'm taking up, is the singer realizing how much he could be doing but is not. The system is that of our desires our selfish desires that keep bringing us away from the good will we want to do for others. But what is the answer the singer is seeking near the end of the song?


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    Jul 14th, 2006 7:49pm report

    This song is about the entire universe. Just the wonder of it all. "Swimming on a sea of faces," probably refers to all of the people you see in the world. The refrain probably is talking about how you need to find things on your own terms. This is a great song, with good lyrics


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    Feb 25th, 2006 2:17pm report

    Finding comfort with the meaning of life using metaphysical or spiritual explanations.

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