"White Shadows" as written by Guy Rupert Berryman, William Champion, Christopher Anthony John Martin and Jonathan Mark Buckland....
When I was a young boy I tried to listen
And I want to feel like that
Little white shadows blink and I missed em
Part of a system, a plan

If you ever feel like something's missing
Things you'll never understand
Little white shadows sparkle and glisten
Part of a system plan

All this noise, I'm waking up
All this space I'm taking up
All this sound is breaking up

Whoa oh

Maybe you'll get what you wanted
Maybe you'll stumble upon it
Everything you ever wanted
In a permanent state

Maybe you'll know when you see it
Maybe if you say it you'll mean it
And when you find it you'll keep it
In a permanent state
A permanent state

When I was a young boy I tried to listen
Don't you want to feel like that

You're part of the human race
All of the stars and the outer space
Part of the system plan

All this noise, I'm waking up
All this space I'm taking up
I cannot hear, you're breaking up

Whoa oh

Maybe you'll get what you wanted
Maybe you'll stumble upon it
Everything you ever wanted
In a permanent state

Maybe you'll know when you see it
Maybe if you say it, you'll mean it
And when you find it you'll keep it
In a permanent state
A permanent state

Swimming on a sea of faces
A tide of the human race
So, an answer now is what I need

I see it in the new sun rising
I see it break on your horizon
Oh come on love, stay with me


Lyrics submitted by rocketqueenz, edited by RamblinRoyce

"White Shadows" as written by Guy Rupert Berryman Christopher Anthony John Martin

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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White Shadows song meanings
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  • +3
    My InterpretationI think this song is about the end of the world, at least the end of it.

    It's about growing up and seeing things and realizing things. And then you feel something's missing, and you start to look back, recall, what you've left behind. And you start to regret, wishing you have lived in a "permanent state" in the past. You want to go back, but you can't let go of what you have. You forget what life is meaningful for. You forget why you exist and what makes life worthwhile.
    And then the end comes. And people are running everywhere and you know you are doomed. You're "swimming in the sea of faces". You are left behind. The end is near. Yet you can see no point of escape, but you just want to know *why*. You suddenly realize the truth, the fact that we should not live in the past and try to move on, as the past is passed. You sit down and quietly enjoy the last bit of your life.

    As for the last part I agree it's about a nuclear war. Reminds me strongly of Fahrenheit 451. "New sun rising" and "break your horizon" is probably the bomb exploding.
    AlexZhangon February 03, 2013   Link
  • +3
    My InterpretationIt's recognizing oneself as a larger part of a system, globally and even universally.

    Little white shadows refer to ghosts, or angels, or perhaps aliens... they are guiding figures. Regardless of whether you believe they are ghosts or angels or aliens, they are all supernatural beings.

    Many people, alien abductees, spiritualists, and the devoutly religious, have experiences with these supernatural beings. If you study these people's stories, they report similar experiences explained in the first and second stanza of having communications with "Little white shadows" whom they know are there but can't quite see clearly.

    The song continues to reveal experiences most of us have, which is becoming self-aware, and realizing there is a larger picture than the individual self. It then continues with further realizations about our individual roles in the world, globally, and then realizations of our roles in an even larger picture, the universe.


    When I was a young boy I tried to listen
    And I want to feel like that
    Little white shadows blink and I missed em
    Part of a system I am

    If you ever feel like something's missing
    Things you'll never understand
    Little white shadows sparkle and glisten
    Part of a system plan

    --- Little white shadows - angels, spirits, ghosts, aliens (collectively, supernatural beings) were speaking to him as a young child. And he did his best to listen and learn.

    All this noise, I'm waking up
    All this space I'm taking up
    All this sound is breaking up

    --- This is the beginning of self-awareness or sentience, which typically occurs around adolescence

    Maybe you'll get what you wanted
    Maybe you'll stumble upon it
    Everything you ever wanted
    In a permanent state

    Maybe you'll know when you see it
    Maybe if you say it you'll mean it
    And when you find it you'll keep it
    In a permanent state
    A permanent state

    --- I believe these were some of the lessons the supernatural beings were telling him. And they can also be a universal goal of most humans - to find and achieve their goals, whether it be happiness, wealth, love, peace, etc...

    When I was a young boy I tried to listen
    Don't you want to feel like that

    You're part of the human race
    All of the stars and the outer space
    Part of the system plan

    --- Again, I believe these are more lessons he learned from the "little white shadows"... and it also represents realizations that he is part of a larger picture. That all humans are intertwined globally, and to extend it further.. the human race is part of a larger picture that extends into space and beyond... a universal picture.

    All this noise, I'm waking up
    All this space I'm taking up
    I cannot hear, you're breaking up

    --- Again, this is acknowledgement and realization of our roles not only globally, but our roles collectively as part of a larger picture that extends into the enormous "System" of Space (or the Universe... or what should be called the InfiniVerse)

    Whoa oh

    Maybe you'll get what you wanted
    Maybe you'll stumble upon it
    Everything you ever wanted
    In a permanent state

    Maybe you'll know when you see it
    Maybe if you say it, you'll mean it
    And when you find it you'll keep it
    In a permanent state
    A permanent state

    --- Again, acknowledging our individual goals, but perhaps in these stanzas, it's an acknowledgement of the Human Race and our goals collectively. Perhaps, these "little white shadows" are guiding us, reassuring us, that we are part of a larger picture and that if we continue on our path, we can achieve this permanent state of happiness, goodness, ... this could be nirvana, heaven, enlightenment, a new age...who knows? And this may be achieved not only individually, but collectively as the human race. Perhaps when we evolve enough to minimize violence, hatred, and ignorance. I stress "minimize", because i don't believe it is possible to eliminate the negatives...for you need negatives to have positives.

    Swimming on a sea of faces
    A tide of the human race
    So, an answer now is what I need

    I see it in the new sun rising
    I see it break on your horizon
    Oh come on love, stay with me

    --- This is another level of realization and awareness. Seeing all of the world and all of the people of the world and realizing the massiveness of human existence that is 7 billion and counting. And asking for an answer to the question we all ask and the answer is the final stanza. Which I'll leave for you to interpret.


    Obviously, just my thoughts on what I consider a phenomenal song. And no, i don't think this is the 'correct' or 'right' interpretation because what i'm trying to convey is there is no 'right' or 'wrong' way to interpret this song and there is no 'right' or 'wrong' way to interpret anything in life. Everything is infinite and there are infinite possibilities, which is what makes our world, our universe, and our infiniverse, beautiful. But that is not to say there is no 'right' or 'wrong' in life. In matters of opinion, there is no 'right' or 'wrong'. In matters of morality, there certainly is 'right' or 'wrong' and if you are a self-aware, loving, human being... you know 'right' from 'wrong'.

    Peace be upon you.
    RamblinRoyceon October 23, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General Commentcorrect lyrics

    When I was a young boy I tried to listen
    And I wanna feel like that
    Little white shadows
    blink and miss them
    Part of a system, I am

    If you ever feel like something's missing
    Things you'll never understand
    Little white shadows
    Sparkle and glisten
    Part of a system again

    All this noise, I'm waking up
    All this space, I'm taking up
    All this sound is breaking up
    Ohhhhhhhh

    Maybe you'll get what you wanted
    maybe you'll stumbled upon it
    Everything you ever wanted
    In a permanent state

    Maybe you'll know when you see it
    Maybe if you say it, you'll mean it
    And when you find it you'll keep it
    In a permanent state, a permanent state

    When I was a young boy I tried to listen
    Don't you wanna feel like that?

    You're part of the human race
    All of the stars and the outer space
    Part of the system again

    All this noise, I'm waking up
    All this space I'm taking up
    I cannot hear, you're breaking up
    Whooaaaaaaa

    Maybe you'll get what you wanted
    Maybe you'll stumble upon it
    Everything you ever wanted
    In a permanent state

    Maybe you'll know when you see it
    Maybe if you say it, you'll mean it
    And when you find it you'll keep it
    In a permanent state, a permanent state

    Swim out on a sea of faces
    Tide of the human races
    Oh, an answer now is what I need...

    See it in a new sun rising
    See it break on your horizon
    Oh, come on love, stay with me...
    Muzikboion June 07, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI'm not sure what the meaning of this song is, but I think it has to do with the unknown and uncertainty that comes with life, like little white shadows out there that you can't see, kinda like the future. And I think it also can refer to relationships and how unsure they can be and the spotaneity with which they come to be.
    sarabeara24on June 08, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Commentya...i agree with sarabeara24 that the song is about the uncertainties of future. and everyone is liked being part of a system, they work and live everyday, yet they are not sure about what they actually want and their future are just like the white shadows, therefore we should break the walls to find the true side of us...

    i find Coldplay's lyrics are quite difficult to figure out, but i have to say that's the most beautiful part of their songs...they write meaningful lyrics. X&Y is awesome anyway...!!
    hybrid1211on June 10, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is genius.
    He first says he'd love to regain the innocence of youth when he felt part of humanity by listening to his elders.
    Now that he is older and jaded - he knows that he is just part of a system. This is metaphorically saying that we are nothingness in comparison the rest of the universe and we are just "taking up space". We are the little white shadows (as in Aristotle's shadows against a wall).
    ohh (its just sickening)
    Maybe you get what you want (maybe we have choice)
    and maybe you just stumble on it (it would have happened anyway - choice is an illusion).
    The permanent state refers to the fact that all our choices, everything we'll ever say is predetermined.
    Swimming in a sea of faces says how inhuman he feels - how very much disconnected he is and truly alone.

    At the end, after all this metaphysical analysis, the only thing that matters is the love he has and how he wants to keep it forever (Gwyneth?).
    andy1337on July 22, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"Killers? Not really. More like Pink Floyd."

    i listen to a lot of pink floyd and not once was i reminded of them by this song. now, i barely listen to any killers, but the songs i've heard definitely sound like this song. but to each their own i guess, i still dont really like this song all that much. it doesnt help that its sandwiched between two of my favorite songs on the cd.
    Puskemoon August 22, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI'm back again, but only because I have a new interpretation of the song.

    Everything about this song, tied together, just.. reminds me of the significance of every person on this earth. We're part of a plan. A sea of faces, the human races... The beauty of the people surrounding us. We take for granted what we have. We abuse these people we've been gifted with.

    You're part of the human race
    All of the stars in the outerspace.
    TheSOADGirlon September 26, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis has to be one of the most underrated Coldplay songs.
    wtsmgon December 07, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti think its about when
    as you grow up you see things you don't understand
    you act upon things you see
    and you only sometimes think and know why but its out of your reach cause thoughts you learn
    are not yours to much they are taught
    and implemented
    as you grow up and if you grow up with curiosity
    you realize your part of something bigger than yourself
    that is the system
    implementing ideas on you
    without you being conscious of it
    sriv760on November 10, 2011   Link

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