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Welcome to the Pop Song Professor! My name's Clifford, and I explain song lyrics so that you can know what your artists are saying and can enjoy your music more. 

What does "Everglow" by Coldplay mean?

What does "Everglow" by Coldplay mean?

SONG MEANING: "Everglow" by Coldplay is about the feeling of warmth or happiness that comes with the sadness you feel when you think about a relationship, situation, or friendship that has now ended.

Coldplay, credit Julia Kennedy
Coldplay, credit Julia Kennedy

Coldplay just released another single from its upcoming album A Head Full of Dreams, and for you listeners who followed the Chris Martin (Coldplay lead singer) and Gwyneth Paltrow's "conscious uncoupling," you'll be VERY surprised by what's happening on this track.

Gwyneth Paltrow is getting credit for writing some of the lyrics in "Everglow." According to NME.com, she wrote the words "How come things move on? / How come cars don't slow?" Chris Martin suggested that she help him sing those words on the song's track itself. He said, "She came up with the idea so I said, 'Is there any chance you'd sing that line cos it's your idea' Like any human, she was like, 'I can't do that! I'm not a professional!'" You can barely hear Paltrow singing those two lines at 1:30, and then she's gone.

Adventure of a Lifetime Artwork
Adventure of a Lifetime Artwork

Explaining "Everglow" by Coldplay

The title "Everglow" is probably the first question listeners will have about Coldplay's new single. In an interview with Zane Lowe, Chris Martin explained, "I was in the ocean one day with this surfer guy. He was like, 'Yo dude, I was doing this thing the other day, man. It gave me this total everglow!' I was like, 'What an amazing word!'"

He continues, "Then the song came completely out. To me, it's about--whether it's a loved one or a situation or a friend or a relationship that's finished, or someone's passed away--I was really thinking about, after you've been through the sadness of something, you also get this everglow. That's what it's about."

As a visual demonstration of what he means by Everglow, Martin also mentioned an 80's British television commercial for Ready Brek.

While an "everglow" may not give you killer dance moves, it is a warm, happy, or contented feeling you get when you think about a phase in life (whether a friendship, a relationship, or any emotionally deep situation) that is now ended and cannot be returned to.

In Verse 1, Martin sings, "Well they say people come / Say people go," to remind his listeners of the transitory nature of life and introduces the idea that this song will be about the changing phases we experience.

However, among the changes, he sings that "[t]his particular diamond / Is extra special." He realizes things change, but this valuable (as suggested by "diamond") instance is an exception. This person is more than usually special and though he or she "might be gone / And the world may not know," Chris Martin stills thinks the person is "celestial" (or supernatural as opposed to natural).

A Head Full of Dreams, album cover
A Head Full of Dreams, album cover

In Verse 2, Martin sings about how wonderful this person is: "Like a lion you ran / Goddess you rode / Like an eagle, you circle / And perfect of all." He uses beautiful imagery to describe the epicness or spectacularity of what this person means to him.

He continues with the lines that Paltrow penned: "So how come things move on? / How come cars don't slow?" Martin wants things to slow down and to not have to keep having to move with the changes of life; he wants to pause in certain places and enjoy "special diamonds." "When it feels like the end of the world" and "When I should, but I can't, let you go," Martin really understands his desire for things to slow down.

The Chorus is the first overtly hopeful stanza in the song, and it brings hope to bear by mentioning the powerful everglow. Martin sings, "But when I'm cold, cold / When I'm cold, cold / There's a light that you give me / When I'm in shadows." He says, "It's a feeling within me, everglow." This feeling of warmth and light gives him peace.

Verse 3 continues the morning, sandwiching the positive message of the first chorus. Martin sings, "But my brother in blood / Sisters unite / And we swore that night we'd / Be friend 'til we die" despite "the changing of winds" and "the way waters flow." No matter what came, Martin and the person he's singing to (whether male or female), said they would stick together, but like "the falling of snow," "[l]ife is short." The person is dead or gone, melting away the bond he or she shared with Chris, leaving only the everglow and Martin still missing his friend. 

The Second Chorus brings up a bit of contention because many aren’t quite sure what Martin isn’t actually singing. (I heard something different from both Genius.com and AZLyrics and am just going to go with Genius.com’s lyrics.) According to them, Martin sings, “But when I’m cold / Cold, yeah, when I’m old, I soar.” He’s saying that when he feels alone, the everglow carries him through; the warm memories of the deep emotional connection are strong enough to support him.

He knows “you’re with me / In a way that won’t show / And you’re with me wherever I go / But you give me this feeling, this everglow.” Through this feeling, he feels that this person is still with him, and he derives comfort from this feeling. Despite them being physically distant, there’s still a connection, even if it is only one way now.

The Bridge is a little bit sadder than the rest of the song. Martin sings, “Oh, what I would give for just a moment to know / Yeah, I live for this feeling, it’s everglow.” Basically, he just wants to understand the situation, whether the hurt or how to recover. Now, he’s in a difficult place in life where he wants to feel the “everglow”–to feel at peace when so often he can only feel sadness.

The Outro cautions listeners to let their loved ones know before it’s too late. It’s almost as if Martin, through this command, is wishing he had let his loved one know of his love more often. But no matter what his regrets, “the light that [the person] left me will everglow.”

Is this song about Gwyneth Paltrow (or romance in general)?

We’re not really sure whether this person is a female romantic interest or a dying friend or family member, but the type of love that Martin is accessing as he sings about his or her departure is universal to all of those possible situations.

In general, it does seem that this song isn’t meant to be specific about the type of loss and really is just focused on two combating feelings: loss and comfort despite the loss. These feelings give and take in dueling verses, choruses, and bridges in “Everglow.” Martin wants to come to grips with his loss, and while I think the song is probably inspired by his loss of Gwyneth Paltrow approximately a year ago, “Everglow” applies and is meant to apply to a wide range of life situations.

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