I'm Clifford Stumme, and I use literary analysis and research to explain the deeper meanings of pop songs. Feel free to leave a comment or to email me at with questions or ideas!

What does "Adventure of a Lifetime" by Coldplay mean?

What does "Adventure of a Lifetime" by Coldplay mean?

SONG MEANING: "Adventure of a Lifetime" by Coldplay is a fun, groovy dance song about feeling "alive again" because of a woman. The song is disco inspired and meant to not only be about good feelings but also to give them. Coldplay is coming out with a new album on December 4th, and it will be called A Head Full of Dreams. The fifth track on the album (and the lead single) is "Adventure of a Lifetime." After Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin was left by actress Gwyneth Paltrow, the band's next album Ghost Stories was quiet, suppressed, and even depressing. "Adventure of a Lifetime" is a reassuring return to a message of hope and fun, even if the song wasn't directly written by Martin.

Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow
Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow quotes Martin as saying, "I was asking the rest of the band to start something and I’ll see if a song comes out from it, so not everything comes from me. That’s how [Ghost Stories single] 'Magic' came about. On this album it happened with 'Adventure Of A Lifetime.' It came from [guitarist Johnny Buckland's] riff. I was the last person on there.”

As for the music itself, The Atlantic says, "With the trippily mirrored single art, that spiraling guitar, and the looped chanting throughout, it’s clear that Coldplay is interested in the spiritual potential of dance music’s repetitive nature—they want to hypnotize as much as they want to make feet move. The shrill, distracting riff also makes clear that unlike most real disco, they’re not trying to be sexy." "Adventure of a Lifetime" is certainly hypnotic, and the music may even be fun to dance to. (I guess we'll have to test out that one.)

"The Adventure of a Lifetime" Lyrics Meaning

The woman in this song is very encouraging. In Verse 1, she tells Chris Martin, "Turn your magic on." But notice that he says, "[S]he'd say." "[S]he'd" is a contraction for "she would" which refers to how this woman's character is some sort of hypothetical (or at least that her actions are). Essentially, she may not exist. Imagine the word "if..." at the end of the "she'd" and begin wondering how Martin would fill in the lyric after that.

My best guess is that Martin is saying that "if she existed, she'd say ________." Who is this hypothetical? She could be "the perfect woman" or the person the narrator feels he needs at the moment. My best guess (and this is far from scientific--I'm interpreting her identity based on my own reading) is that she'd be the woman you'd find late night disco dancing; she'd be fun and confident but wouldn't want to listen to your problems--only to inform you that you'd figure it out eventually, even though you'd been going through a slump recently.

But like I said, it's all guesswork. Really, her identity may be up to you, so let me know what you think in a comment, and I'll respond.

The woman continues to say, "Turn your magic on . . . / Everything you want's a dream away." She's encouraging him to find the source of his passion, to realize its existence, and then to live like he enjoyed life. She inspires him to believe that he can accomplish what he wants to accomplish.

But this woman's not just the narrator's (or Chris Martin's) personal confidence fairy. In the next line, he sings, "We are legends everyday / That's what she told him." The fact that she was talking to him earlier and is no talking to someone else possible means that she and Chris are not romantically involved (or that she's definitely a figment of his imagination). She's a free spirit, roving about (maybe to all the local disco clubs as the music's tone suggests), and talking to people, saying what she thinks to whoever she wants.

In the Refrain, Martin sings, “And say it’s true / It’s not what it seems / Leave your broken windows open / And in the light just streams.” All we have to do to find this place, like he has, is to open ourselves up to it, and the “light” will enter.

In the Chorus, Martin continues to describe what that “light” means for him: “And you get a head / A head full of dreams.” He has begun to dream of something bigger and better than what he had. He sings, “You can see the change you want to / Be what you want to be.” In his dreams, bad things are gone, and he is who he wants to be. He describes this experience as “a love”–it’s exhilarating and emotionally beautiful.

He continues, “I’ve just been spoken / With a head full, a head full of dreams.” I think these lines refer to the power that imagination has in our lives. We can imagine something or dream it so vividly and powerfully that it comes to be real. These imaginings have spoken new life into Martin.

In the Bridge, Martin sings, “I sing, oh, I think I’ve landed / Where there are miracles at work.” He’s here and “open handed” and “lost for words” at his own thoughts of possibility and the future.


“A Head Full of Dreams” is a beautiful, energetic, and exciting song. The song itself doesn’t go much of anywhere other than to set up limitless possibilities for what the other songs on the album A Head Full of Dreams will accomplish and be. I’m excited to continue explaining those songs and hope that you’re excited to read about them!

Clifford Stumme has his master’s in English literature and is a blogger and a college instructor/desk-watcher at Liberty University. He likes juggling and reading/writing, and he is married to the wonderful and beautiful Wife April. He thinks pop music is awesome. Seriously awesome.

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