Instead of investing in a journal, Chris Martin decided to invest his post-breakup emotions in a Coldplay album and thus Ghost Stories was born.
In X&Y’s “The Hardest Part” (now talk about a good breakup song am I right?!) Chris sings, “I tried to sing but I couldn’t think of anything/and that was the hardest part.” At the outset, this appears to ring true when it comes to Ghost Stories.
Lyrically, I’ll be the first to admit this album isn’t exactly a gem (Exhibit A: “Another’s Arms”). I’m a sucker for a killer lyric – shout out to my Keane boiz who tend to write some knockout lyrics (listen to “Your Love” and TRY to tell me that song’s not genius, I dare you - "Time has the knack of pulling the rug out from underneath us" - FAVE LINE Y'ALL).
Ironically enough, I like Happy Chris’ sad songs (“The Scientist,” “The Hardest Part,” nearly every Coldplay song, etc.) more than I like Sad Chris’ sad songs. But this isn’t to say I haven’t found Ghost Stories to be worthy of my listening attention.
Though perhaps not lyrically extravagant, Chris’ pain is clearly palpable throughout all nine tracks, echoing in the mellow, electronically-tinged music.
The album opens with “Always in My Head” which – you guessed it! – finds Chris ruminating over the fact that “you’re always in my head.” This I-can’t-seem-to-get-over-you attitude sets the tone for the remainder of the mournful tale that is Ghost Stories.
If anyone I know ever goes through a breakup in the future, I’m going to gift you this album. It won’t make you feel even the tiniest bit better, but at least you’ll be able to say that hey, Chris and co. GET me.
I’m a little bit surprised a cover of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” didn’t find its way onto the album, especially after Chris so sadly sings “Just tell me you love me/if you don’t then lie to me” in “True Love” (which boasts some BEAUTIFUL music, might I add!). I’ll be waiting for that cover, Chris.
He goes on to tell us that you’ve “got to find yourself alone in this world/you’ve got to find yourself alone” in the minimalist track “Oceans.” Well now if that isn’t an incredibly bleak but completely true statement.
The second-to-last track, “A Sky Full of Stars,” begs you to take a quick dance break from your pity party before “O” follows right behind, slamming into your bleeding heart to remind you that THIS IS INDEED A BREAKUP ALBUM.
Like wow, way to make me feel all the sad feels. The piano alone is enough to bring on the sobs. The line of “fly on/ride through/maybe one day I’ll fly next to you” – such meager, hardly-realistic hope! - makes me want to lug over to Chris’ place with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and (500) Days of Summer. It’s okay, Chris, your own Autumn will be here soon (aka me, I’ll start planning the wedding now). I’LL cuddle on the couch with you and watch TV if she won’t! This would solve the “late night watching TV/used to be right here beside me” dilemma of “Another’s Arms” and then that song can cease to exist (sorry guys, it’s my least favorite track on the album).
I read a Guardian review that somewhat chastised Chris for not finding some great revelation in the midst of his pain, since - as an artist - this should be his job.
But maybe this album does give us a glimpse into truth, after all: Sometimes in the depths of pain’s abyss, beauty and hope are hard to come by. Sometimes pain is in the mundane details, like wishing that person was there to enjoy a simple activity with you, such as watching late-night TV. Sometimes, in order to move on, you have to wallow a bit, acknowledging that wow, this pain SUCKS and I REALLY miss that person.
In the end, sometimes pain isn’t a veiled Great Life Lesson after all. Sometimes it’s just that: pain and nothing more.
And Ghost Stories echoes this haunting reality. Though it may not be a brilliant album, it’s an album that communicates real, universally-relatable emotions and therein lies its beauty.
“O” leaves us with this sad nugget as Chris compares love to a flock of birds: “One minute they arrive/next you know they’re gone/fly on.”
“Fly on” indeed. Life is hard. People come and then, sadly enough, people go. Hearts are broken. We didn’t need a Coldplay album to tell us that, but it certainly is a more palatable truth coming from these dudes.
Top 5 Favorite Tracks:
- "A Sky Full of Stars"
- "Always in My Head"
Once all is said and done, my measly opinion and the opinions of those who dub themselves as music critics carry little weight. What one listener deems worthless may be incredibly meaningful to another. And that subjectivity and individual connection is what makes music beautiful.
The album is now available on iTunes and from retail locations.
Ghost Stories - Coldplay
The entire album, duh. But if I must choose one song to share, then this one: