"Cemeteries of London" as written by Christopher Anthony John Martin, Guy Rupert Berryman, Jonathan Mark Buckland and William Champion....
At night they would go walking 'till the breaking of the day
The morning is for sleeping
Through the dark streets, they go searching, to see God in their own way
Save the nighttime for your weeping
Your weeping

Singing la lalalalala la la
And the night over London lay

So we rode down to the river, where the toiling ghosts spring
For their curses to be broken
We'd go underneath the arches, where the witches are in the saying
There are ghost towns in the ocean
The ocean

Singing la lalalalala la la
And the night over London lay

God is in the houses and God is in my head
And all the cemeteries in London
I see God come in my garden, but I don't know what he said
For my heart it wasn't open
Not open

Singing la lalalalala la la
And the night over London lay
Singing la lalalalala la la
There's no light over London today.


Lyrics submitted by rorow1, edited by KeroseneFire, BIRDDUDE830

"Cemeteries of London" as written by Guy Rupert Berryman Christopher Anthony John Martin

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Cemeteries of London song meanings
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  • +6
    Song MeaningSo guys, I've got an actual confirmed meaning.
    Cemeteries of London is actually a song about the Thames River in London.
    During the Victorian era, the Thames actually was in essence a Cemetery, so many people threw themselves into the river as suicide and alongside people were often murdered with their bodies dumped in the river, it was a convenient place to dispose of people. Deaths in the river were so common that they actually had a Thames River Morgue, to house all the dread bodies that washed up from the river or were found.

    "We go underneath the arches"
    Is also a reference to the Thames, if you've actually lived in London or rode on the river, you'll notice all the arches you have to go under at various points from bridges on the water.

    "So we rode down to the river
    where the Victorian ghosts pray
    For the curses to be broken"
    They pray at the river for the curses to be broken (In English folklore it is believed when someone is murdered and placed in a river/space of water that they become cursed forcing them to haunt the location, i.e lady of the lake etc. )

    "There are ghost towns in the ocean
    The ocean"
    Is a reference to where all the spirits end up once they have been washed down the Thames river, once they end up in the North sea, collecting over the years.

    While many people think the song isn't directly about spirits, it actually is focused on London and it's victorian past/deaths.

    If anyone has actually lived in London, they will understand this song.

    In fact people still drown often in the Thames, in 1999 before the millennium, for the first time London re-opened it's morgue to line it with dead bodies from accidents on the new years. (People crowding on bridges and getting pushed in accidentally etc )
    mail-archive.com/ctrl@listserv.aol.com/…

    Also take a look here if you're interested in the history of the river and deaths surrounding it. (Was written in 1871 :
    query.nytimes.com/gst/…
    LittleSkyLarkon March 03, 2009   Link
  • +4
    General CommentGuys? Grow up
    This isn't a reviewing site anyway, it's for discussing the song meanings and the lyrics
    I like this new album, it's very different from their previous stuff, but a little different is good sometimes :) other it'd just get boring if they recycled the same old songs over and over. My view on it.

    This song is vague with it's meaning, but that's why I love coldplay, they leave you to make the interpretations. I think it's about someone searching for something, a truth or meaning, 'to see god in their own way' it describes their journey. Meaningful for someone who is searching for some truth or meaning in their life.
    HoliHallowon June 14, 2008   Link
  • +3
    General CommentTom T, sweet spelling. It's no surprise that someone on such a subpar intellectual level would choose to insult such a great song. But it looks like I'm the ass here, after all, I was just called a 3 year old by someone who misspells something that is already correctly spelled out for them. Go throw on your old Village People albums and quit commenting on things that are far over your head.
    ihatehatehaterson June 11, 2008   Link
  • +3
    General CommentIn my opinion, this song is very difficult to understand, because from what i've taken in, very little of it can really be taken literally. The parts about death and ghosts could actually mean what they say, or it can be about memories, things or feelings that have "died" but that are revived by the places where they are most vividly remembered. Also I think the parts about night, day, morning, etc. need to be looked into further.
    "At night they would go walking
    'till the breaking of the day
    The morning is for sleeping
    Through the dark streets they go searching
    To see god in their own way"
    this is just a very far-out guess, but when i read this the expression "to be in the dark about something" comes to mind. so maybe they were "in the dark" about a belief or something (maybe that has to do with god?), and then the searching would fit in. the morning, or light could signify that after you have found what you were looking for, it has to sink in.
    "I see god come in my garden but I don’t know what he said
    For my heart it wasn’t open"
    again, gives me the feeling that he is trying to understand god, and is searching for understanding?
    illjumpforyouon July 06, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI like your train of thought illjumpforyou. I think we have to remember Coldplay's use of metaphor in much of their lyrics to come to an accurate understanding of the song.

    The imagery of ghosts and witches is not likely literal, but rather a metaphor for those who are spiritually dead. They long for life and know there is something else out there, and are desperately looking for it, but in the meantime are perhaps embarrassed about the way in which they currently understand (or don't understand) God. The clue to this is that the dead only go on their search at night, they walk the streets in darkness when they can safely remain hidden, but they put this part of themselves to bed in the morning, afraid to let the light of day reveal just how vulnerable their spiritual longings make them.

    The writer observes there are ghost towns in the ocean. Indeed the ocean is full of graveyards in the literal sense of sunken ships, but I think the metaphor here might be that the sheer vastness of the ocean and way that it ties the whole world together with all its billions of people represents that this is not isolated to "my own garden" or even exclusively to his own town (i.e. London), but the writer is coming to an awareness that there are countless numbers in the world feeling this same sense of death inside.

    Quite a sad song, really. It does not resolve with a shred of hope of any kind, in fact ends with "there's no light over London today," as if saddened by the fact that no one is ever actually real with themselves about this hidden part of their soul as we put it to sleep in the day and only allow it to explore in the darkness of night.
    earthenvesselon July 09, 2008   Link
  • +2
    Lyric CorrectionThe correct lyrics from coldplay.com are:

    At night they would go walking
    'Til the breaking of the day
    The morning is for sleeping
    Through the dark streets they go searching
    To see God in their own way
    Save the night time for your weeping
    Your weeping
    Singing lalalalalalalalaiy
    And the night over London lay

    So we rode down to the river
    Where Victorian ghosts pray
    For their curses to be broken
    We go wandering 'neath the arches
    Where the witches are and they say
    There are ghost towns in the ocean
    The ocean
    Singing lalalalalalalalaiy
    And the night over London lay

    God is in the houses
    And God is in my head
    And all the cemeteries of London
    I see God come in my garden
    But I don't know what he said
    For my heart it wasn't open
    Not open
    Singing lalalalalalalalaiy
    And the night over London lay
    Singing lalalalalalalalaiy
    There's no light over London today
    MaoMao27on May 01, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe first post. Hello everyone. This one really captivates me, I've formed a special connection with it, and 42 too. It seems to be expressing some desire to connect with whats 'out there' a sort of spiritual vibe going on, its mystical and explores a new dimension. When we die we shed our pride (I'm being deep because Coldplay blatantly are) we go off to the grave and we are all equal, I think its about embracing the next phase and feeling whole again. Kind of envying the dead, but at the same time loving life too.
    ItsAbouton June 16, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General Comment"To see God in their own way"
    Most likely a reference to the many many people who prefer to define or to make a religion that is more comfortable for them rather. "Through the dark streets they go searching" confirms this, is that people actively seek to find a belief that suits them rather then one that actually worships God.

    "but I don’t know what he said, For my heart, it wasn’t open…" confirms this, noting that people really don't want to hear what God says. Basic core of what is noted in Christian teachings that the Holy Spirit "chooses" those who hear, listen, and understand rather then just hear. Basically noting what is "Grace".

    "God is in the houses" could be noting how many people have images of Christ, e.g. Catholics having Christ on a cross that is considered wrong by other God-fearing groups. "and God is in my head" maybe a reference to the fact that many people are thinking about the Gospel even if they don't believe it, and don't think it's true.

    Of course I may be way off and that Coldplay is only using imagery from a religious point of view as a metaphor for something else, or they are using the metaphors for the religious theme.

    "The Ocean" I can't remember where, I think it was in Revelation (the book in the Bible) that refers to it as a vast nothingness, imagery of Hell. Of course, cannot confirm this, so anyone have any info on it I'd like to know.
    Roofhackon July 22, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentGreat Song, I wonder if Chris Martin frequents places like this to figure out what his songs are about... lol.

    Here is what I think it is about.

    Firstly, I noticed the three stanzas change reference from: They to We to Him/Me.

    So, follow this transition:

    1) They look for 'God in their own way'. I take this to be people searching for God in ingnorance (darkness).

    2) We search for proof of afterlife (Victorian Ghosts/listening to where the witches say there are ghost towns). Since we can't find God, we search for the wake of God, by looking for proof that there is more beyond this word (ie afterlife).

    3) God looks for me and reveals himself, but I missed him because I'm not 'ready' to hear him... Possibly because He is not what I expect God to be like or that I am not ready/prepared to receive Him.

    Now singing 'la la la' => happiness in the darkness. We are happy in our ignorance.

    The song concludes there's no light over London today => There's no enlightenment... the masses are still ignorant to God.

    I think it fits... I also find it interesting that he is using a Gaelic folk progression to talk about London. To me it might have been more appropriate to replace 'London' with 'Dublin', but what do I know.
    djoseph104on September 01, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI made a picture video of this song for my DTP 2010 class. I think it turned out very nice. I love the way this song sounds as a story."So we rode down to the river where Victorian ghosts pray. For their curses to be broken!" Yay! Also, be sure to check out TheIntimindator27's journal. Mine too!
    MaoMao27on April 30, 2010   Link

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