Like many Coldplay songs, "Clocks" is about love. The lyrics are about being in a conflicted, but very intense relationship as precious time slips away.
Lead singer Chris Martin came up with the lyrics and the piano riff shortly before Coldplay released the album. Since they didn't have much time, they put it aside and planned to work on it for their next album. When Martin's friend heard the demo, he convinced them to do whatever was necessary to record it for A Rush Of Blood To The Head, especially since the song deals with the importance of time.
This won the Grammy for 2003 Record Of The Year, beating out "Hey Ya" by Outkast and "Crazy In Love" by Beyoncé. In accepting the award, lead singer Chris Martin dedicated it to the late Johnny Cash and to US presidential candidate John Kerry, "Who hopefully will be your president someday."
Despite the modest chart position in the US, this song was very popular there, as it appeared in television themes, movies, promotional films, and other commercial outlets.
Suggestion credit: Bertrand - Paris, France
This was used on The Office in the season 8 episode "Test The Store." It plays during Dwight's presentation for Sabre.
It was also used in these TV shows:
The Vampire Diaries ("Miss Mystic Falls" - 2010) Him & Her ("The Argument" - 2010) Being Erica ("What Goes Up Must Come Down" - 2009) Family Guy ("Long John Peter" - 2008) ER ("No Good Deed Goes Unpunished" - 2003) The Sopranos ("Calling All Cars" - 2002)
And in these movies:
How To Be A Senior (2019) The Wild (2006) Peter Pan (2003) Confidence (2003) - It plays during the ending credits.
The song's pulsing, cyclical riff was inspired, according to Martin, by the band Muse.
This was voted by BBC6 Music's listeners the best song between 2003-2012 in a poll to celebrate the radio station's tenth anniversary. Arctic Monkeys' debut hit "I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor" was runner-up.
Drummer Will Champion confessed during an episode of VH1's Storytellers that he initially thought this now-ubiquitous song was "absolute rubbish."
Jen B from Cleveland, OhioMy son suffered with anxiety and substance abuse and recently passed away at just 20 years old. I asked him to play me a song and this song came on. I know he’s home with God now but he didn’t want to die, he wants to be home with his family.
Seventhmist from 7th HeavenTerry, I loved your story. Thanks for sharing it.
Shell from New Zealand I remember coming back from Saudi Arabia and hearing this song made me stop and ask my work colleague who is this band? It was the piano playing that grabbed me first and then the singing started and I was hooked. A great song even now in 2018.
Zero from The Abyss, NjI love how Muse, another awesome British band, seemed to influence this band on some of their songs. I've seen Muse on their 2nd Law tour in 2013 and it was literally one of the greatest rock show's I've ever been to. I've never seen Coldplay live, but my friends did.
I have a question for you musicians out there. I tried to learn this song by ear on piano, and it sounds pretty accurate, but I'm play predominately sharps and flats (black keys) for the main melody. I've also read somewhere that Chris piano for Parachutes and AROBTTH were tuned slightly sharp for the recording. Am I playing the tune the same way he plays it or is it the (correct) tuning of my keyboard that's throwing me off?
Dee from KansasWhat is the song form? AABA? AABC? Strophic?
Jeff from Austin, TxTerry in WI, that is an amazing story. I love hearing stories from others about how music, especially a specific song or even a moment of a song can have such a powerful personal meaning.
Terry from Grafon, WiMy daughter was born to this song...it was so surreal. She was 7 weeks early, and I was laying on the operating table (I had a c-section) with my husband rubbing my face, telling me everything was going to be okay. The nurses had Pandora on and this song came on. It felt like my life was a movie, and this song was part of the soundtrack. Right when the tone of the song changes and Chris Martin sings "and nothing else compares" is when she was born. And she came out screaming...both my husband and I started crying because her lung development was the one thing her doctor was worried about. It was such an emotional and moving moment. Every time I hear this song now, I think of how I felt, and how far my family has come together, and it brings me back to that cold, December Wisconsin day when my life changed in a way I never thought imaginable.
Esskayess from Dallas, TxDedicated to the Man in Black AND Herman Munster's stand-in?
Well, one out of two ain't bad.
Kimberly from Landing, NjTime is of the essence and the essence has just revealed, in its entirety, social values over n over the chords of value. As the seasons change, so do are lives. The lessons of the seasons are known to the naked eye.
Megan from Stevenson, AlI love this song! I love the piano and how well Chris sings this. Amazing!
Jamie from Paducah, KyAwesome!!! :)
Jamie from Paducah, KyThe best band in the world!!!!
Scott from Richmond, VaTo me its a love between tormented souls. Am I part of the cure or part of the disease? Cursing missed opportunities. The pain of loving someone, something and NOT keeping it. I know it means this to me. -sardogowner
Dan from Brookfield, WiThe melody of this song is very gripping, especially the piano riff. Deep lyrics or not, why over analyze a classic love song? I really enjoy it, this is definately one of my favorites.
Jema from South Portland, MeThis song is so very pretty.It's nice listening to it backwards also.Listening to Clocks backwards sounds really awesome!
Ivy from Springfield, Neomg!!!!!! omg!! this is driving me crazee. what movie trailer has this song in it?? plz tell me!!
Bebe from La, CaThis song is about death;life will end....it will happen.....and then, "I AM " is the "HOME"- Heaven.....and nothing else compares, going home....
Aaron from Detroit, Mifirst colplay song i learned on the piano... great song it really is.
Jeff from Flint, MiThis somg saved my life, and other people probably feel the same way!!!1
Wesg from Philly, PaThe fact that people thought "Hey Ya" is a better song makes me wonder what's wrong with them. "Clocks" is an amazing song that I could never get tired of. "Hey Ya" is probably the MOST ANNOYING SONG every created.
Dave from Cardiff, Wales"I dont know why you guys are comparing this to Hey Ya...it was obviously better because it won...Thats a no-brainer!" By your logic Dortez, that IS a no-brainer. "Clocks" may have won the Grammy, but "Hey Ya" is easily the more successful of the two songs. "Clocks reached #29 in the US and #9 in the UK. "Hey Ya" fared better by reaching #1 for nine weeks in the US and #3 in the UK, spending 12 weeks in the UK Top 10 and over six months in the UK Top 75. "Hey Ya" went five times platinum, "Clocks" only just went gold. One award does not make a song "better" than another
Ruth from Indianapolis, InAs someone else mentioned, this song was used in previews of the movie, Peter Pan, and it also seems to be the tune that Peter is playing on the pan pipes in the movie.
Seamus from Sligo, IrelandLike the song but hate how Liberal Coldplay is.
Joe from Manchester, United KingdomHahahahaha This is to John from Pheonix YES you should've listened to brits (especially Coldplay) about who you should've voted for in the 2004 election because you got BUSH and look where that got you. And to others- Pink Floyd are not better than Coldplay. You just prefer them cos they're more your time...
Elliot from West Vancouver , BcAmazing Song. And how's this for depth:
"he song's lyrical themes include contrast, contradictions and urgency. Chris Martin sings of being in the state of "helplessness ... in a dysfunctional relationship he doesn't necessarily want to escape". The lyrics are cryptic; the ending lines of the second verse emphasize contradicting emotion: "Come out upon my seas/Cursed missed opportunities/Am I a part of the cure/Or am I part of the disease?". The song's title also "metaphorically alludes" to its lyrics, "pushing one to wonder about the world's obsession with time while connecting it to the theory: make the best of it when we're here, present and alive"
Ashley from Cape May , NjColdplay's "clocks" makes me cry everytime I hear it. " Home is where I wanted to go." is just so sad. Graduating High School in '05 I considered it my graduation song, but now that im a mother I can sign it to her. This song talks about how precious time is and the melody is amazing!
Dee from La, CaSo many interesting comments on the meaning behind the lyrics. My 'take' runs close to the guy, Rick in Dayton,OH. I get an immediate spiritual impression, more so on a metaphysics level of ascending and descending and getting trapped by our own vices, for whatever they may be. The line ...closing walls and ticking clocks has a personal deeper meaning to me. Anyway, just one one opinion here. Terrific song, at any rate!
Janatha from Houston, TxI can play this on my guitar i thought it meant something deeper by the words *tigers waiting to be tame* but i dont know...
Allie from Pine Knob, MiI love this song but i must agree with Alex, these songs don't go very deep. Listen to some Pink Floyd, its awesome music and it gets ya thinking
Andrew from Lafayette, Inthis song is the best in the whole world... my friend can play this on this
Nate from Tiverton, RiHey ya and many other songs are great. However clocks is a classic, and a song that you can never get bored of. Coldplay created this whole new type of song that's simply outstanding. I loved this song so much I posted different versions of it on a myspace page. Visit it here: www.myspace.com/clocksland
Dortez from Mesa, AzI dont know why you guys are comparing this to Hey Ya...it was obviously better because it won...Thats a no-brainer! Any how this is a pretty rad song, and has really sweet vocals...About the You are being about god...i doubt it. I Believe they are about the girl he misses that happens to be back home...but things in his life seem to be pressing him and coming down on him. Home is his shelter and thats where he want to be. Just my opinion though...
Joe from Dublinthe people who think this is such an amazing piano riff should listen to more piano music. try ray charles
Rick from Dayton, OhThis song is easy to understand the many conflicts of life and looking for the meaning of life. The more complex and ingenious meaning is found in the numerous beautiful and harmonic repititions of the chorus "You Are"
I truly believe the singer is saying GOD EXISTS / YOU ARE.... God said I AM and the singer is saying YOU ARE.
It is stated this song is about love and of course Gods Greatist gift is his love for us.
I love the midi I found for this song. I transposed it to a key in my range and a harmonizer for an truly heavenly chorus.. After singing it a few times the "TRUE" meaning is obvious. I can't believe no one else understands this?
James from Atlanta, GaMy wife introduced me to Coldplay when I was stationed in Japan. Less than 2 years after our wedding I found myself deployed to Iraq for a year. I'd become addicted to karaoke and so I practiced singing this song in my room alone while thinking of my wife and newborn son I hadn't met yet. Once I get my R&R I took them to a Karaoke booth in Ebina, Japan and sang it to her. Now it's a regular for us and still brings a tear to my eyes. Of course I changed final words to Home Home, where I want to go!!!!
Dave from Cardiff, WalesI agree with Tom - I think Hey Ya is way better than Clocks - on the surface it is simplistically upbeat and energetic, but very dark lyrics and an underlying theme of longing for someone. Clocks is a good song, but has very little depth - also Outkast totally trump Coldplay in the originality stakes. Hey Ya is is a much better song in my view and deserved to win, but this is still a decent song. While appreciating that they are totally different genres, and as someone who would normally choose rock over rap/hip-hop/R&B everytime, I think that Coldplay are exceptionally overrated, and that Outkast are criminally underrated
Chuck from Crivitz, WiEurope was/ maybe still is undergoing a renissance of sorts with the re-telling and re-enactment of the story of William Tell. And a tiger's waiting to be tamed as the calliope plays on at the circus. You are?? You are?? He can't guess who's playing this tune! Later: Confusion that never stops; the closing walls and ticking clocks - Pressures mount to meet a deadline. Gonna come back and take you home - I could not stop that you now know - and so, now I know! And beaconing the music player to 'come out upon my seas'. Am I part of the cure, or the disease? =Have I chosen a wise path; or perhaps should I obsess about this? Still, not knowing who the mystery person is (You are, you are), and then hitting wrong notes (skunk keys); improved by rewriting this as "and nothing else compares" - still curious about the mystery person's home, or longing for home in England?? Not sure there! The rest might come out in time..
Chuck from Crivitz, WiAll I know is that one minute I'm goofing around on a keyboard in the Mall of America (ca.Dec.2000), and the next a fellow is singing along to the tune, making up lyrics as I played! It could just be a collection of thoughts he had at the moment - Shoot an apple off my head - William Tell of Swiss legend; A tiger's waiting to be tamed? Perhaps a Circus reference to this Calliope-like music? And later, all the pressures he was under - 'the closing walls and ticking clocks?' Deadlines and commitments?
Jl from Bretagne, FranceHello everyone, Try and listen to the great cover/colaboration by Cuban mythical artists Buena Vista Social Club (Rhythms del mundo, 2006). The acoustic semi-impromptu version's quite good too.
Anthony from Farmingville, NyIm not sure how to interpret the words but all I know is the music has such a haunting melody. It is sad and exhilarating at the same time. At times I imagine it as someone struggling and defeating a inner personal dilemma.
Ty from Kitchener, CanadaI heard this song had something to do with clocks being turned back or forward during WW2, or something like that. Rick in Humboldt speaks the truth rock is the best form of music
Sapphire from Denver, CoColdplay is an awesome band, but it gets kinda annoying when they sing too high.
James from Westchester, EnglandI tip my hat to anyone who can defensibly derive some meaning from these lyrics.
Alex from Fort Mill, ScI think its kind of stupid to say that this song is about love: nearly all music made today and prior to is about love. Thats whats really cool about prog rock bands like Floyd and Yes; their lyrics are way more meaningful than any other bands lyrics.
John from Phoenix, AzGood band, great song. If only they could have kept their personal opionions out of the 2004 election, seriously, do we need brits explaining to us who we should vote for?
Nathaniel from Pittsburgh, PaThis song has one of the greatest panio riffs i have ever heard or played, and the lyrics to this song are great
Christina from Richmond, Vathis song is usually the end song for the radio show love line with dr. drew
Aria from Brisbane, Australiathe begining of this song is the main song in petter pan.very cool
Burhab from Pune, MeI have the video for this song as well 'in my place'. I really enjoy watching both the songs. I feel this song is all aboutr time.
Rick from Humboldt, Iathank goodness that it beat out hey yah and crazy in love because rock is the true form of music, not rap and whatever it is that beyonce does
Amelia from South Portland, MeI love this song. And I do think its about love
Andy from Windom, MnIt seems as though whenever Coldplay begins a song with a piano riff, it will be an awesome song.
Kevin from New York, NyI think this song is about the mental turmoil associated with trying to figure out life's meaning while at the same time realizing one's own frailties. Pressured by the fact we only have a limited amount of time on earth to find these answers, the story speaks directly to the overwhelming maddness that accompany obsessivly trying to obtain all the answers to life's questions.
Sammy from New York, NyI saw them in concert 2 days ago on Sept 7 in Madison Square Garden! It was astonishing, amazing, awesome; Coldplay know how to put on a show. "Clocks" & "In My Place" and the finale "Fix You" were my favorite performances. I particularly enjoyed how they reworked "Clocks." The tempo got faster midway through the song and a rush of raw energy filled the Garden as it went past the 8 minute mark. Wonderful concert. Wonderful band.
Patrick from Humboldt, Iaclocks is better than hey ya and its not right that a song should win just because of popularity.
Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScI guess I get your point To, but songs shouldn't when Grammys just because of how popular they are. Both songs are pretty good though. By that, I'm refering to this one, and the one by Outcast.
Nathan from Defiance, OhColdplay has great melodies, but comes off sounding like a lot of other soft 00's artists.
Elliot from St. Louis, MoPersonally, I think Gwywneth Paltrow is too hot for Chris Martin. Actually, she isn't that hot, but defenitally too hot for him. He has big lips lol. Nonetheless, I love Coldplay.
Rebecca from Cityofbrotherlylove, ScTheir kid's name is Apple. (hee hee)
Michael from London, EnglandThe song is about Chris Martin when he was away at school, wanted to go home. Was confused with love etc. Fact-en-fact, he told me.
Matt from London, EnglandBrilliant Song. I'm quite sure it's about death though. I seem to remember Chris Martin saying that it was initially put aside for the third (main) album due to its rather sad theme but then due to other songs being removed from the final cut (Animal etc?) it was placed in instead. I think this song will probably mirror the third album's progression. Martin uses the chorus "You are" for the sound of the words rather than meaning which is pretty new for them!
Jen from Boulder, CoWay to go, Chris Martin, for dedicating it to John Kerry. And to Tom in England, sorry but I don't think that popularity should dictate how Grammys are given. Clocks is better in many other ways than popularity (don't get me wrong, Hey Ya is a good song though!).
Megan from Wodonga, AustraliaMy opinion of this song is that for a long time he has been struggling to get to a certain place in life and there have been all these things stopping him or preventing him from getting to this place....home is the place he wants and this person to him is home.
Gabe from Utica, NyI can play this song on the piano as well. Coldplay is my #1 band! This is by far the best song on their second album. Coldplay just rocks!!
Esteban from Panama, OtherPlease... more well known and more popular? It's less serious and more shallow, besides it's just a mock to old rock bands, I DO like Hey Ya, but I definitely believe Clocks deserved the Grammy. It is one of these songs that turn themselves into instant classics.
Tom from Trowbridge, EnglandI like Coldplay and this song but I think Outkast deserved to win the Grammy cos their song is more well known and more popular.
Dusan from Berkely, IaThis is about someone who is trying to save a lost relationship but meanwhile time is running out. Thats just my take...cool song!
Susan from Tampa, Fli think that "a rush of blood to the head" refers to the feeling one gets when they act with no convictions, no rational thought, and totally will never regret it because it is usually worth it!
George from Florham Park, NjChris Maertin is married to Gywneth Paltrow
Britney from Calabasas, CaI LOVE this song. This is my favorite.
A key line in "Africa" is "I seek to cure what's deep inside, frightened of this thing that I've become," which is about drifting away from what you really want in life. Toto keyboard player David Paich, who wrote the song, felt his work was consuming him.