TRAVIS: The Boy With No Name

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Can bad news actually be good news?

I am always suprised when I meet a music lover who has not heard of the band TRAVIS. Coldplay is really well known now around the US, but many people still know very little about the band Chris Martin credits as the ones who “invented my band and lots of others.” If you haven’t listened to TRAVIS much, check out The Boy With No Name. It’s a great place to start, or get reacquainted. Their myspace page will give you a free listen to four of their tracks, but a personal favorite of mine is ‘Closer.’ After living with this song for a while it has me asking some questions.

Can bad news actually be good news? Can things falling apart lead to things being whole?

The melody of “Colder,” the tenth track on The Boy With No Name, is probably the most upbeat and hopeful sounding song on the entire album. Paradoxically, the lyrics are about things falling apart—things in this world getting worse—things getting colder.

And the sky is falling down / And there’s an angel on the ground / It’s getting colder

Who cheerfully sings about angels on the ground? Who points to the sky falling in the midst of a happy tune? It seems on this track that TRAVIS is one of three things: delusional, signing with deep irony, or finding hope amongst the chaos.

It would be difficult to make a case that TRAVIS is delusional or out of touch with reality. Their catalog of songs is marked with awareness that connects with real life. “The Beautiful Occupation,” “Dear Diary,” and “One Night” are just a few songs that showcase this. And even though Fran Healy wrote this album out of the optimism that comes with the birth of a new son, the lyrics of “My Eyes” shows that his feet are not completely in the clouds.

Unless TRAVIS is picking up a new device, irony is not their style either.

This leaves the explanation of this paradox to TRAVIS somehow finding hope through difficulties. I personally think the lyrics of the refrain hint at an answer:

I color in the world I see / I pick apart the melody / ‘Cause maybe there’s a symphony / Caught inside but there’s no way out

Check it out for yourself, and see if you can get a sense of where their hope is coming from.

Colder (lyrics)
By TRAVIS

I’m in love with everything
With every face I’ve ever seen
And every place I’ve ever been
Has left its mark upon my worries

I color in the world I see
I pick apart the melody
‘Cause maybe there’s a symphony
Caught inside but there’s no way out

And the sky is falling down
And there’s an angel on the ground
It’s getting colder
I’m standing looking down
There’s not a sound around the town
It’s getting colder
Colder

I would show everything
But everything is too extreme
We’ll wait and see the entropy
At the end when we all stop lying but the sky is Falling down
And there’s an angel on the ground
It’s getting colder
I’m standing looking down
There’s not a sound around the town
It’s getting colder

The sky is falling down
And there’s an angel on the ground
It’s getting colder
I’m standing looking down
There’s not a sound around the town
It’s getting colder

The sky is falling down
And all the people on the ground
Are getting colder
I’m standing looking down again
But you can’t help me now
I’m getting colder