Music & Cities: Coldplay’s ‘Parachutes’ in León, Mexico

Parachutes - Coldplay
Parachutes - Coldplay
In this new column for Atwood Magazine, I explore the impact of one artist and album across the range of my experience in one city or across several cities. The aspiration is that you will resonate with my experiences and how they might intersect with your own life in deepening our understanding and reflection on a particular artist and album in our contemporary world.
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The irreplaceable stark beauty of Coldplay’s ‘Parachutes’ speaks to the wonders of intimacy that can be created between two people through secret corridors of existence in going beyond what the world is perceived to hold.
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Stream: ‘Parachutes’ – Coldplay

We met one late night in the midst of a party at my apartment in the coastal town of Colima in México, and from that first glimmer of eye contact we became inseparable.

It was a connection that appeared as the most natural course of events. There was no question as it had already been deemed necessary that we needed to be together as it was certainly one of the most fluid connections that I have experienced in my life. It was as if everyone had faded and become mute, as she made me feel my being and life quaver in her presence. I was entirely beside myself and totally entranced. In the midst of my party, while the music of Depeche Mode and Bowie soothed our souls, she spoke of the immense impact of Bowie in her own life, and how he had inspired her to create her own sense of rebellion in finding her own voice as an intellectual and creative thinker. It was an astounding conversation, and as we became overwhelmed with drink we began to drift away from the profundity to socialization and I feared I would never see her again.

That very next late afternoon there was a knock on my door and I was breathless to see Jaqueline in my midst. We stood before each other, and within minutes we were making love with the most reckless sense of abandonment that could be imagined. We kissed as if for eternity as we brought ourselves to unearthly forms of pleasure as we held each other in knowing that our lives were transforming.

That next week, Jaqueline invited me to León and my life was dramatically altered. I had taken the ETN prima bus which was a delight in transporting me from Colima through to the hills of León, and I was beside myself to see Jaqueline again. We fell into each other’s arms as I descended from the bus, and we quickly jettisoned ourselves to her urban apartment in downtown León.

We went shopping and stripped down to the basics — essential food items, alongside regulatory levels of beer, tequila, and red wine. We could have won a war. We were feverishly in love and really were sustaining ourselves on each other’s souls — food was secondary to making love at a highly intense level, as we only relaxed into pools of alcohol and rings of smoke.

One afternoon, after too much blood, sweat, and tears — we decided to decompress with going to the cinema and later a record store on a hot day in mid-July in the year 2000 at Plaza Mayor. For the life of me, I cannot recall the film we saw that day, but it only seems like yesterday as I fully recall walking into the local Mixup record store with Jaqueline and being swept away by the amazing sound of something new, which was Coldplay’s song “Yellow.” In that hazy summer afternoon, the remarkable vision of their album Parachutes began to unfold in front of us in the midst of that store. We immediately purchased a copy and rushed back to her apartment as we knew that we were witnessing a landmark album in the human experience.

When we arrived, her roommates were already fully inhabiting the space, but we had an incredible sense of connection with both Adrianna and Luz. They were darlings and immediately fell into our vibrant fervor for Coldplay’s vision. We put Parachutes on full volume as the four of us initially descended into beer and tequila amidst a darkened apartment, with candles to light our way into an entrancing evening with Coldplay fueling our imaginations. In that remarkable night as I sat next to Jaqueline, I realized that I was irresolutely in love with this girl — she was a firebrand, and totally of my ilk.

Throughout that evening we descended more deeply into the vision of this debut album from Coldplay over dinner and endless bottles of red wine, and we began to realize that there was something much more integral at stake than the hit “Yellow.”

All of us held our breath in the entirely low-key sentiment of the opening track “Don’t Panic,” which also set forth a subtle critique of nationalism as Jaqueline and I knew the intended sarcasm:

“Bones, sinkin’ like stones
All that we fought for
Homes, places we’ve grown
All of us are done for
And we live in a beautiful world
Yeah, we do, yeah, we do
We live in a beautiful world”

Jaqueline and I created our own beautiful world, and we were also new lovers, and in that moment of time I could never imagined a life without her — she had become my own irreplaceable parachute, as Coldplay tell us in “Parachutes”:

“In a haze, a stormy haze
I’ll be ’round, I’ll be loving you always, always
Here I am and I’ll take my time
Here I am and I’ll wait in line always, always”

We were always with each other and waiting for each other until the unfortunate eclipse of time that left us bereft of each other. ‘Til this day, I am filled with regret as I saw the last look on her face as I descended that bus and she continued that journey in her solitude.

Parachutes-era Coldplay © Mark O’Flaherty
Parachutes-era Coldplay © Mark O’Flaherty

Parachutes-era Coldplay © Mark O’Flaherty
Parachutes-era Coldplay © Mark O’Flaherty

As the passage of time has soaked over the years, perhaps her and I could always have embodied the marvel of Coldplay’s “We Never Change”:

“So I wanna live in a wooden house
I wanna live life and always be true
And I wanna live life and be good to you
I wanna fly and never come down
And to live my life and have friends around
We never change, do we? No, no
We never learn, do we?”

With Jaqueline, I never did not want to change — ever, or never. She was my new life force. I never did want to touch the ground ever again. To this day, I long for that wooden house — our house for you and I. Although we are longer together, the idea of our ‘own house’ is one that shelters me in my own private emotions as the years wash away our own forgotten dreams.

Looking back at this album over the past twenty some years, this was perhaps Coldplay’s magnum opus.

There would be great wonders of hits and visions to follow, most particularly in their albums A Rush of Blood to the Head, X & Y, and Viva la Vida or Death and all His Friends. Yet, that debut album held something much more intimate about human existence that could never be recaptured in such a delicate manner. That was the irreplaceable stark beauty of Parachutes, and in a way that exactly mimicked my relationship with Jaqueline.

Through the chance of life and missed opportunities, our destiny did not unfortunately unfold together, and we remain within sadly distant, yet beautiful and transcendent memories of Parachutes — our life together in the frame of one year.

That drink in the town square of León, that night with Adrianna and Luz, that bookstore in León which was steeped in 19th Century nostalgia and where the voice of Kundera spoke to you, that night when we promised each other a life, that night in a beautiful hotel when we made love all night, that night when we could not afford a hotel and we huddled together, that day when we promised the horizon to ourselves.

Parachutes-era Coldplay © Mark O’Flaherty
Parachutes-era Coldplay © Mark O’Flaherty

Despite all the time and distance, it seems that we always remain within traces of each other — never reunited, never entirely apart. Yet, always hoping to encounter one another again in coming up against the scourges of the ages. Jaqueline and I remained designed within the souls of each other, and it was that way within that first glimmer of eye contact all those years ago.

The irreplaceable stark beauty of Coldplay’s Parachutes speaks to the wonders of intimacy that can be created between two people through secret corridors of existence in going beyond what the world is perceived to hold.

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Parachutes - Coldplay

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