On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenge of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.
My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.
I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.
So long as I post every day (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be… legendary!
Coldplay – Viva la Vida (2008)
” Viva la Vida” (, Spanish: [ˈbiβa la ˈβiða]; Spanish for ‘Long Live Life’) is a song by British rock band Coldplay. It was written by all members of the band for their fourth album, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends (2008).
We’re leaving Africa and Mali behind, dear reader, and returning to the UK. We find ourselves in London and are checking in with Coldplay again. They previously appeared with the song, Fix You, in 2005 from their third album. When we join the group in 2008 they have released their fourth album, Viva la Vida, Or Death and All His Friends, and from there 1001 Songs have gone with the track, Viva la Vida.
Viva la Vida is told from the perspective of a king who has enjoyed unparalleled power in the past but now that is all over. In the opening of the track the king informs us that all he can do now is “sweep the streets I used to own.” The album is covered in imagery of revolution and guerrilla warfare and that appears to be what has befallen our king here. The former king looks back disconsolately on when he mattered, when he had it all, but now he has nothing and can not even be comforted with the knowledge of Saint Peter waiting for him at the gates of heaven for there will be no place for him there.
I know Viva la Vida well and it demonstrates the versatility of Coldplay. Listen to songs like Yellow and Clocks from their earlier albums and then listen to this track. The difference is staggering. I enjoy the historical feel to the track and the lesson to be learned about power and how we can ultimately lose it very quickly. Coldplay’s first UK chart topper, Viva la Vida has stood the test of time and remains one of the group’s best songs. They continue to prosper to this day and have seen every album released top the UK charts. Not bad.
Favourite songs so far: