Say what you will about Coldplay — they’re corny, they’re basic, whatever you want to say is fine — one thing that can’t be denied is that my man Chris Martin knows how to write a song. He’s written many, and several of them are quite good. Look me in the eye and tell me that the opening strings of “Viva La Vida” don’t stir something within you.
“Fix You,” the second single from the band’s 2005 album X&Y, is an especially moving song about Chris Martin trying to comfort his then-wife Gwyneth Paltrow following the death of her father Bruce. It’s beautiful, it’s stirring, and if I am in the right headspace it will make me sob like a baby. It is also now, apparently, about “the struggles facing the next generation of family farmers in America,” according to Kacey Musgraves and Chipotle.
The singer “reimagined” the song (a.k.a. she took out the best part which is when the song gets really fast all of a sudden) for a new “short film” (okay Taylor Swift) released by the fast casual Mexican restaurant. In the animated film, a son leaves his family’s deteriorating farm to go make it in the big city, but then his dad takes a fall in the snow so he returns to the farm to make it more sustainable. And then everything is fine, and they ship their crops off to Chipotles across the country.
Any way you slice it, this is not what the song is about. The “you” is not a farm ravaged by climate catastrophe only to be turned around so it can ship out lettuce that probably has E. coli. The “you” is a beautiful, blonde Oscar-winning actress/wellness mogul whose docu-series about less beautiful people having bad sex recently got a rave in the New Yorker. Let’s not get it twisted.
This is not the first time the song has been bastardized. Those of us who suffered through every episode of Aaron Sorkin’s show The Newsroom will remember when it played during a truly bizarre sequence that showed our fictional heroes standing their ground and refusing to pronounce Rep. Gabby Giffords dead after she was shot in the head. “It’s a person. A doctor pronounces her dead, not the news,” says producer Don over the song’s surging chords, finally settling a debate no one was having.
What was meant to be conveyed in this moment is, as were all things on The Newsroom, unclear. Is the “you” being fixed the state of television news? Is it Giffords? We will never know. What I do know is this, leave this song alone. We let Gwyneth have so much, I know, but I think we should also let her have this.