“Strawberry Swing”: Coldplay Gets Better, 2 Words at a Time

“Strawberry Swing,” off Coldplay’s new Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends, embodies the stripped-down minimalism Brian Eno was meant to bring to the bloated bombast-pushers. For poetic prowess, Chris Martin’s lyrics still wouldn’t pass muster in most 12th grade lit classes, but that one phrase — “strawberry swing” — that makes the song.

They were sitting
They were sitting in the strawberry swing
Every moment was so precious

It’s two simple words and a little alliteration, but they’re just uncommon enough, incongruous enough, to ring pleasantly. And the rhythm of the syllables gives a whimsical triplet lilt:

STRAW – berr – y   SWING

That’s Coldplay: mild, pleasant, catchy.

Go ahead, say it — I’m giving Martin too much credit. Maybe so (though not that much credit). But look at these flaccid lyrics from “Speed of Sound,” the lead single from X&Y:

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?

Eight lines, and only one noun. Mountain. The rest is pronouns and abstract nothingness — I, feel, begin, decide. What’s he beginning? What feels like what? Where did this effing mountain come from?

So Chris Martin: Well done, honest. With Eno at your back, you’re back to creating pretty melodies, and on “Strawberry Swing,” you show the wisdom to stay out of their way.

MP3: Coldplay – “Strawberry Swing”


2 responses to ““Strawberry Swing”: Coldplay Gets Better, 2 Words at a Time

  1. I know this blog is all about the words, but that song has the best damn soundscape of the whole album as well, short of maybe only Life in Technicolor. It just has this aural, drumming to the ever-forward moving march of life feel to it. The song is reflective, talking of a simpler time long ago, and the percussion just reiterates the forward march and the distance between now and the past.

  2. This song brings us all back to the time we just sat and enjoyed life for once! Most of the time Coldplay’s songs are not the most positive songs, in tune. This one has a lovely tune and acoustic”ness” to it. Well done Coldplay!
    “It’s such a perfect day!” So get outside!

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