Monday 22 October 2012

Coldplay - Things I Don't Understand

I was a late-comer to Coldplay: game-changing debut Parachutes had been and gone, and second album A Rush Of Blood To The Head was nearing the end of its shelf-life. Their third album, X&Y, was looming on the horizon. Although I had certainly heard their music here and there, my own musical journeys had somehow kept me away from exploring it further - partly because, prior to this point, I hadn't been particularly overflowing in the wallet department, and so very much relied upon the music I already had.

But then I started having singing lessons. And Coldplay's In My Place was the first song I worked on. I really liked it, and felt that it would make sense for me to explore their back catalogue. And thus, a new Coldplay fan was found in me. I began trying to get copies of their old singles so that I could listen to different versions, or b-sides. I continued this habit with X&Y, buying the single of Speed Of Sound. And it was there that I heard this song for the first time.

I can certainly see why Coldplay chose to leave out Things I Don't Understand when choosing the tracks for X&Y. It can easily be compared to Speed of Sound and, whilst it definitely 'fits' with the rest of the songs on the album, I think it would have unbalanced it a little. Nevertheless, it ranks as one of my favourite Coldplay songs.

The guitar riff, particularly in the intro, always puts me in a good mood despite the fact that - conversely - the lyrics talk of confusion and despair. Indeed, I find the whole song's sound to be rather uplifting even though the content of the vocals might suggest otherwise. Perhaps the key to this juxtaposition is that the final words are:

"But I love this life"

Even though the world can be difficult to understand, with so much that can fall apart around us, life can still be (and should still be) worth living. Generally speaking, if a Coldplay song sounds morose and forlorn, or positive and joyful, then the lyrics will reflect that. However, I think this song deserves recognition for stepping out of that mould a little by pulling us along with words of unsettling uncertainty, accompanied by a relatively exhilarating melody. It's only really when we hit the end of the chorus that there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

"The guitar is such a great friend, easy to carry from room to room, from house to house." - Pete Townshend

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