The meaning of Coldplay’s Yellow: a song of inexplicable sensations

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Yellow was Coldplay’s first major hit, released in the summer of 2000. It was how the Coldplay name spread around the world as one of the new bands to watch. And it is also one of the most characteristic and particular singles of the English band. For that peculiar way of singing that Chris Martin has and for the simple beauty of the song, which is remembered and hummed still today, years later.

The way the lyrics of that song came out is actually quite random. Coldplay themselves, and in particular the singer, tells the story in this video-interview for BBC: during the recording sessions the notes began to flow spontaneously from the guitar, and Chris Martin instinctively thought about Neil Young’s way of singing. Somehow he associated that intonation with the choice of the verses’ metrics and with some key words with which the verses would end, such as “stars” and “you”. And then, for no apparent reason, Martin saw the yellow pages in the studio and decided to use the word “yellow” heavily in the lyrics. The process therefore started from the notes and the inspiration of the moment, and only at a later time did the text build around it.

Over the years, many have wondered about the true meaning of the final text, perhaps precisely because of the use of certain words that do not have a clear meaning for everyone. All those who have dedicated themselves to the interpretation have added their own sensitivity, some have guessed that it’s a song about unrequited love or even death, topics that in reality do not emerge unequivocally from the lyrics.

Look at the stars
Look how they shine for you
And everything you do
Yeah, they were all yellow

Your skin and bones
Turn into something beautiful
You know, you know I love you so

For you, I’d bleed myself dry

It is definitely a love song. It is probably not aimed at any particular woman, so we can assume that Chris Martin is describing the pleasurable feelings he associates with love in general. By producing lyrics that did not have a real message to convey at the beginning, in this way the song becomes a spontaneous expression of the emotions felt by who wrote it. Thinking about the stars and the beauty of your loved one. Yellow is a warm color, associated with light, and therefore can have a strong symbolic charge.

Chris Martin repeated several times that the lyrics of that song “don’t make much sense”. Yet many Coldplay fans saw this as a beautiful thing. Because basically, love is like this too: it does not come with a meaning ready to be understood. It just comes. And it’s beautiful.