June 21, 2008

“Speed of Sound” by Coldplay

Posted in Epiphanies, Literature, Quotes at 2:53 pm by faith786

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum,

I did put up “Suffer Well,” by Depeche Mode, but I left it to your own interpretation. Someone posted a link to a song called, “Speed of Sound” by Coldplay. I heard it and found the lyrics an opportunity to explicate. I have included the video too, so you can also decide your own interpretation. This is an Islamically appropriate (except that it is music, but I won’t go into that argument) video, so don’t worry for random moments. =)

Speed of Sound, by Coldplay

How long before I get in,
Before it starts before I begin?
How long before you decide?
Before I know what it feels like.
Where to, where do I go?
If you never try then you’ll never know.
How long do I have to climb
Up on the side of this mountain of mine?

Look up, I look up at night.
Planets are moving at the speed of light,
Climb up, up in the trees.
Every chance that you get is a chance you seize.
How long am I gonna stand
With my head stuck under the sand?
I’ll start before I can stop,
Before I see things the right way up.

All that noise and all that sound.
All those places I got found.
And birds go flying at the speed of sound
To show you how it all began.
Birds came flying from the underground.
If you could see it then you’d understand.

Ideas that you’ll never find,
All the inventors could never design.
The buildings that you put up
Japan and China all lit up.
The sign that I couldn’t read
or a light, that I couldn’t see.
Some things you have to believe,
While others are puzzles, puzzling me.

All that noise and all that sound.
All those places I got found.
And birds go flying at the speed of sound
To show you how it all began.
Birds came flying from the underground.
If you could see it then you’d understand.
Oh, when you see it then you’ll understand.

All those signs I knew what they meant,
Some things you can invent.
Some get made and some get sent ooh-ooh

And birds go flying at the speed of sound.
To show you how it all began.
Birds came flying from the underground.
If you could see it then you’d understand.
Oh, when you see it then you’ll understand.

So what have I pulled out from reading/hearing/seeing it?

There are a few interpretations:

The first time I heard it I thought it was about someone who is blind and the point of view kept switching. There are images to suggest that, particularly the chorus. “All that noise and all that sound/ all those places I got found.” The speaker mentions what a blind man would hear. And we do not find places, God leads us to them-“places I got found.” And, “birds go flying at the speed of sound/to show you how it all began…understand?” Are images that a blind man could hear a bird flying, which that noise *would* go at the speed of sound. For someone who is blind, it would sound like the birds would come flying from the underground. So I thought that the song struggled with the inner turmoil of the speaker talking to a person who is blind and juxtaposing the two in their different searches. but the “You,” keeps changing, so that can undermine this interpretation.

There is also this contrast of the idea of sound in the song, yet there is the focus of light in the video. In the beginning it is dark. Then it starts to *glitter*, then different colors come and at the end, there is a culmination of all these different colors. So the song can also be about light that a blind person cannot see or comprehend either.


The speaker is on a journey of curiosity. (That is why the song appealed to me.) That is self explanatory in the first two stanzas. There is this idea that he is trying to reach the cosmos and learn more and more. He even marvels our own doings- “The buildings that you put up, Japan and China all lit up.” Later in the song he realizes that there are somethings we can know, and some things we can’t, “Somethings you have to believe/ but others are puzzles, puzzling me.” That can allude to the chorus, which enticed his curiosity-birds going at the speed of sound (or really fast) and birds coming from the underground can be symbolic of evolution/the origin of life=more curiosity. Birds can also be a symbol of freedom-freedom of his curiosity and being in constant growth, it goes so fast-like the speed of sound.

And another outlook on the song that I think it really is:

The speaker is undergoing a self-discovery/epiphany. All the images he gives are just symbols. the fist two stanzas are about him being curious. He is waiting for that inspiration/epiphany and he has to try otherwise, “you’ll never know.” The idea of birds flying at the speed sound can be about broadening your mind and that he can’t explain it, but it must be felt or seen as he symbolizes with birds going at the speed of sound. The underground can actually symbolize his subconscious and that the birds can be his thoughts, emotions and ideas. Then it moves on to the idea that there are limitations of the human mind, but we are still capable of great things. There are some things we must believe in, and somethings we still question. “Some get made and some get sent-” We learn from observations, and somethings are internally awakened from God. Birds can also mean words because words go at the speed of sound, but words cannot capture what he is trying to express, hence “birds go flying at the speed of sound….when you see it then you’ll understand.” We can never see it, and words can never really express it.

One last interpretation can be that the music artists were crazy and they strung a bunch of words together that I am explicating for no good reason. =)

The colors in the video are just shadows of what he is trying to express. It starts off with the first stanza, waiting for his awakening/inspiration/epiphany and the lights are off. Then it starts to *glitter* which kind of means he is in motion with trying to figure things out, then colors start coming real fast (like the chorus-speed of sound). Then it bounces back and forth with the lyrics and the end is just being overwhelmed with colors or his understanding of everything.

I don’t really know, but the message of the song is very positive and there is something to take from his words-keep curiosity, marvel at God’s creation, strive to know more, accept what we can know, and at the same time, keep searching.

But my favorite lines: The sign I couldn’t read/ or a light I couldn’t see/some things you have to believe/but others are puzzles, puzzling me.

Overall: I love the lyrics, the lights in the video, but the guys are acting dumb in the video and the singer’s voice DRIVES ME CRAZY. The music sounds too fake, but I like that weird piano/keyboard thing. Anyway, it is ALL about the lyrics.

Sorry for sucky explication, but here is the video if you are interested in anything that I am writing about:



  1. faith786 said,

    I also like: every chance that you get,
    is a chance you seize.

  2. Noreen said,

    Awesome analysis. Cool theory with the birds and words and freedom idea.

  3. Cloti said,

    Best analysis on the web. Could you do other songs too? (Whatever that does not interfere with your religion.)

  4. faith786 said,

    Thank you for the compliment.

    I do not want to do too many song interpretations because I do not really advocate music and I can see that easily becoming an obsession (not just for me, but other people). So I do not advocate that obsession, but some songs actually do have value and if you come across any that are actually thought provoking and for me, religiously appropriate, I would not mind doing another interpretation. I just do not want a huge library on my blog.

    Thank you for stopping by!

  5. Ana said,

    It’s interesting..
    see I do not agree with the blind theory.
    I never really saw that intepretation.
    However I believe the song’s connotation is more about consciousness and the quest of ‘knowing’.
    I share similar views to the last two interpretations explained above.
    The song speaks for itself and can be interpreted in many ways.
    I love the way its does that.

  6. Anzil Mon said,

    You are very correct my dear brother….I got the same feeling and searched in Google with the song lyric to know the truth, the evidence which reveal only when you try for that….

    Thanks for Coldplay to compose such a beautiful song with a good theme…

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