On Bones, ignited ones (sort of pt. II)

As you may remember (and you should, otherwise you’re either too stressed out or don’t own something commonly referred to as “long-term memory”), in yesterday’s posting I wrote about bones.

As the rules of coincidence command, today in the morning I listened to this song by Coldplay named “Fix you”. You may not see the connection just yet, but bear with me please. I think it’s a rather good song, but there are a few lines in the lyrics I just can’t make any sense of.

First of all, the title: “Fix you”. Last time I checked, fixing something that isn’t a machine or some sort of process had a negative connotation. Take for example that reference in “The Great Gatsby”, where someone is referred to as the guy who “fixed the World’s Series”. Clearly Chris Martin doesn’t hold Fitzgerald in high esteem, otherwise he wouldn’t have contradicted Fitzgerald’s usage in such a blatant way. Because as it seems, in the song the word “fix” is not used in the sense of corrupting, but in the sense of correcting. Which again opens yet another bag of questions. For example, is the song in reality just one big ad for anti-depressants? Let’s find that one out, shall we? Here are some lyrics:

When you try your best but you don’t succeed
When you get what you want but not what you need
When you feel so tired but you can’t sleep
Stuck in reverse

And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can’t replace
When you love someone but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?

Now, I’ve done some research (meaning I’ve used Google), and here are some symptoms of a clinical depression (source is here):

* You feel miserable and sad.
* You feel exhausted a lot of the time with no energy.
* You sometimes feel that life isn’t worth living.
* You feel you have no confidence.
* You have difficulty sleeping or wake up very early in the morning and can’t sleep again.

Now, I won’t go through the lines one by one, because you can do that yourself, but isn’t it strange how these all fit together? As if Martin checked that very site I’m quoting before writing that song. Please note that it’s a website based in the UK. And where’s Chris Martin from? EXACTLY! Let’s move on to the chorus:

Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

Now, I don’t even know where to start: what about those lights? Is that Chris Martin? With a shiny box of Zoloft? And where and what is that home? Shouldn’t you avoid being holed up at home when you’re depressed?

And now, in case you still remember my opening paragraph, what in depression’s name is “ignite your bones” supposed to mean? Why would anyone want Chris Martin to set fire to their bones. Seriously, what was Martin thinking (or popping, for that matter) when he wrote that? And it’s even more mind-boggling when you start wondering how he’s going to do that? How do you ignite bones without setting a person totally ablaze? Especially when your original mission was to “fix” their depression! I really can’t see any merit in that, can you?

Oh well, at least I’ve now had the opportunity to write about human bones twice in a row.

16 Responses to “On Bones, ignited ones (sort of pt. II)”


  1. 1 David Scrimshaw

    Here’s my take:

    “Lights will guide you home” – people lost at sea need lights to guide them home, the line is not about “holing up” it’s about getting back to where you need to be.

    “ignite your bones” – more like getting a spark going, energizing the body, lifting it out of its lethargy.

    “And I will try to fix you” – here’s where the Coldplay guy shows a lack of life experience. He should have written “And I will deplete my life and energy in the futile exercise of trying to make you happy”

  2. 2 gibarian

    Hmm, looks quite sensible to me. Although I’m not totally convinced by the “lights” part, mainly because there are no other references to a nautic theme in the whole song. But that could be neglect on Coldplay’s side.

  3. 3 jehateyou

    oh lord.. Person #1, your analysis reminds me of a person with their head stuck so far up their ass that they don’t realize how stupid they sound while trying to seem like some sort of an intellectual. Person #2, I agree with the “person out at sea” connection and I don’t think that more refferances to such a thing are necessary.

    ughh..I hate it when people criticize others just because they don’t “get” what is being said. Instead of putting Chris Martin down, why not put a little effort into really figuring out what he is saying. (or just leave alone things that are too complex for your little brain. even though I can’t fathom how anyone could find this song complex.)

  4. 4 gibarian

    Jehateyou, very well put. You must be a poet yourself.

  5. 5 Gietje

    Hmmm, may my response is a bit late, almost a year after the last response, but when I think of ignition, spaceships pop up in mind. Ignition costs a lot of energy, but as soon as ignition is complete, the audience is extremely excited. So the parallel here, assuming that this song is about depression, could be that by investing a lot of energy in a depressed person might cause him/her to be cheerful again

  6. 6 richard

    Gietje, I love me some comments, even when they come a bit late. Your explanations sounds interesting as well…I might have to ask Chris Martin in person about it ;)

  7. 7 Stu

    Hm, this is tough. In the video, i’ve noticed he’s crossing the road and avoiding cars all the time, maybe suggesting he’s lost? Then as it gets further on he finds his way to the MASSIVLY energetic crowd of people cheering and perhaps “Igniting his bones”?

    Lights will guide you home – When you’re lost and don’t know what to do, searching for something.

    And ignite your bones – That something finds you

    And I will try to fix you – And trys to help.

    In a nut shell;
    He’s hurt at the loss of a loved one, a girlfriend, family member or friend etc. Someone or something helps him, starts helping him, or fixing him?

    I tried :/

  8. 8 Gobol

    Heh, forgive me my english, please,

    It is interesting, how reception of lyrics changes through cultures… I come from PL, so I’m deep in slavic culture. For me and my friends this lyric is rather straightforward, and has nothing with the article presented here, rather with comments :)

    Leaving language subtlety of phrase “fix you” and possible humorous (sarcastic?) meaning, I think it is understood that Chris ment here something positive :)

    I totally agree with Stu, in his/her’s interpretation.

  9. 9 Kjell A

    Hmm. Some unnecessarily hard words said in one of the replies on this subject, I think. I believe that art in general appears in the eye of the observer, at least to a certain degree.
    I have rather recently discovered the wonderfully melodius music of Cold Play, and I also got stuck on some of the lyrics in this wonderful tune. My interpretation of the lyrics is to a great degree the same as many of the participants on this subject. I think that the song is dedicated to a depressed or sad person, and that the chorus describes how the “I” of the lyrics will try to soothe the “You” of the text. To me “Lights will guide you home” is an obvious metaphore for the “I” comforting the “You” and making him or her feeling better about him/herself.
    On the more tricky part of the text “and ignite your bones” I can only guess what the author means. When you’re feeling sad or depressed you can metaphorically feel “frozen or chilled to the bone”. This expression, directly translated from swedish, goes “frozen to the bone marrow”. Could “and ignite your bones” mean that the “You” will start to feel warmer inside …?

  10. 10 Richard

    Thank you Kjell for your comment. I’m always amazed at how this post seems to surface at least once a year. I’ll ponder what you said and will come back to you soon :)

  11. 11 Someone Who Has a Brain

    Seriously, people, seriously.

    This is a song about a person, most likely a boyfriend or husband, who is trying to comfort his girlfriend or wife through a period of grief after the loss of a loved one.

    The “lights will guide you home” part has nothing to do with nautical themes in a literal sense. However, yes, Kjell A had it right when he or she wrote that this is a metaphor for the “I” comforting the “you.”

    The “and ignite your bones” part is a bit perplexing at first, but after reading it in the context of the entire song, it clearly means what David Scrimshaw said, “lifting [the body] out of its lethargy.”

    Several sources has stated that Chris Martin may have been inspired to write the song after the death of his wife’s (Gwyneth Paltrow’s) father.

  12. 12 Andrew

    Chris Martin just can’t write lyrics, but his fans don’t care because no one listens to the lyrics anyway. It’s just elevator music.

  13. 13 Michael F.

    Funny to see that others think and discuss about those obscure phrases, too. And my part is to bring this post to surface for this year ;-) I thought about it earlier but now, listening to this song again after a rather long time, I want to get to the bottom and am happy to have found this.
    As a learner of English, and a one who is very interested in idioms and native-like language, I also wondered whether the “ignite your bones” phrase is common or not. Before reading this post I presumed it’s meaning was to revive or to vitalize someone being depressed or crushed, so I think I got it gererally right.
    Thanks for putting this up Richard!

    Greetings from Germany

  14. 14 Richard

    @Michael Ha, thanks for doing the duty of re-surfacing this post again. As you may have seen, I’m not a native speaker myself, so I can’t be sure either whether it’s a phrase or idiom common in England or the English speaking world. I wish some native speaker would actually shed light on that. Thanks for being part of this discussion, though! And keep checking back to see whether someone answered this most pressing of questions eventually ;)

  15. 15 sweety

    Hi Bud:)

    Fantastic take on one of my all time fav songs! Well, I didn’t do any sort of research on this particular song. He ain’t singing a song. It’s his soul that rants at times. Lights will guide you home means…This is the time to walk on my friend..this is not the end to finish your journey…it has just begun :)

    Ignite your bones means…it won’t let you fall….the same way god doesn’t let you fall bud :)

    Keep penning and shinning always :)

  16. 16 jessiebee

    1st of all I really enjoyed reading everyone’s take on the lyrics! It’s truly amazing how it can mean something different to each person. I am a native speaker of English, and the “ignite your bones” phrase is not entirely common (to answer your question, Michael F).
    The song, as a whole, seems to me to represent someone going through depression and giving up. The author (Chris Martin) is singing this song to that person, perhaps his wife? As the song progresses he tells this person that he will help bring her back to life, and feel whole again.
    “Lights will guide you home” implies that there is help for you. You are not alone. Usually someone going through depression cannot resue themselves. Chris Martin is saying that they dont have to do it alone.
    “and ignite your bones” is a little trickier. I pondered its meaning and came up with somethuing that hopefully makes sense. Someone who is suffering depression may feel cold and lifeless inside. “Igniting your bones” could mean bringing you back to life, and warming your soul. Or put simply, becoming happy again.
    “and I will try to fix you” is a pretty simple translation to me. Chris Martin is saying that he will be there the whole way “to fix her,” and pick up the broken pieces. He will do the best he can to help her out of this depression.
    I hope this helps shed some light on the subject!
    This is my favorite song, so i enjoyed looking into the lyrics. :P

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