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Meaning of the song ‘Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall’ by ‘Coldplay’

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Released: 2011

“Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall” by Coldplay is an anthemic power ballad that serves as a testament to the healing power of music and the human spirit’s resilience. With undeniably evocative and rich imagery, the song metaphorically illustrates hardship as a waterfall, but also the will to carry on.

The opening lines “I turn the music up/I got my records on/I shut the world outside until the lights come on” sets the tone of the song; the protagonist seeks solace in music, a refuge from the harsh realities of life. The use of “shut the world outside until the lights come on” may suggest isolation, but also rings of a self-imposed sanctuary. The line “Maybe the streets alight/Maybe the trees are gone/I feel my heart start beatin’ to my favorite song”, paints the picture of a world in chaos, which is contrasted by the comfort and solace the protagonist finds in a favorite song.

Moving to the lines “Don’t want to see another generation drop/I’d rather be a comma than a full stop”, there’s an expression of worry for the future generation. Instead of being the “full stop” that ends the sentence of progression, the protagonist would instead be a “comma”, a pause keeping hope alive for better times. “Maybe I’m in the black/Maybe I’m on my knees/Maybe I’m in the gap between the two trapezes” reflect feelings of being caught in a state of uncertainty and precariousness, like a trapeze artist suspended in mid-air. But, still the heart beats, symbolizing life and resilience, which is beautifully encapsulated in “Cathedrals in my heart”.

The chorus “Every siren is a symphony/And every tear’s a waterfall” uses auditory and visual imagery to depict resilience amidst adversity. The “siren”, a usually distressing sound, becomes a “symphony”, showcasing a transformation of perspective. Similarly, the “teardrop”, a symbol of pain and sadness, becoming a “waterfall” indicates the power and magnitude of the emotions involved, but also the catharsis in confronting them.

The lines “So you can hurt/Hurt me bad/But still I’ll raise the flag” affirm unequivocal resilience. Despite the pain, the protagonist is defiant and insists on persevering, epitomized in raising the flag—a universally recognized symbol of steadfastness and victory.

The echo of “It was a wa-wa-wa-wa-waterfall” and the repeated lines “Every tear, every tear/Every teardrop is a waterfall” serve to underline the central metaphor of the song. Each tear shed, each difficulty faced, is not just a drop in the ocean, but a waterfall—an overwhelming rush of emotion. But like a waterfall, it also carves a path forward, reflecting the enduring spirit in the face of hardship.

So, “Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall” is not just a tearjerker, it’s Coldplay’s ode to resilience, a homage to the universality of human struggle, and an anthem that validates our shared experiences of pain, hope, and the indomitable power of the human spirit.

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