Sunrise began as a piano demo recorded on Chris Martin’s phone. Longstanding Coldplay string collaborator Davide Rossi added a harmony to that original demo which in turn inspired Chris to ask Rossi to turn the piece into a layered string-only composition. Originally intended for another project, Chris loved the composition so much that it replaced the album’s original opening track.
One of the first songs the band worked on, Church “fell through the sky” in roughly four minutes when Chris Martin was working on another song. The band jammed on the track numerous times during the A Head Full Of Dreams tour, and producers of that album Mikkel Eriksen and Tor Erik Hermansen (Stargate) receive a production credit (“beat inspiration”). The female voice featured at the end of the track is singer Norah Shaqur who also contributes to Orphans.
When an A&R friend of Chris Martin asked the singer if he’d like to contribute a composition to a reggae album, Trouble In Town arrived instead. The song’s heavy instrumental climax was recorded in Italy in late 2017 during a fruitful and intense recording session where the band lived and worked together in a “barn on a hill”. The bridge borrows audio from a viral police harassment clip recorded in Philadelphia in 2013.
Two-album Coldplay producer Brian Eno loves gospel and doo-wop music and Chris Martin cites Eno’s enthusiasm for those styles as an inspiration for trying to craft his own gospel track. He’d attempted a number of compositions over the years, none of which he thought were any good. Another song called Broken (which, incidentally, Chris thought was very good) existed, but the gospel-flavoured BrokEn finally came through and took its place.
One of the earliest songs written for the album, Daddy came together very quickly. While not strictly autobiographical, Chris Martin says the lyrics are inspired by his own experiences as a father (and the pain of leaving his kids while on tour), friends with strained paternal relationships, as well as the theme of mass incarceration and kids who’ve been separated from their dads. Before the album’s release Chris called his own father to assure him the lyrics weren’t about their relationship.
Chris Martin recorded a short voice memo guitar demo on a balcony in Buenos Aires on the final day of the A Head Full Of Dreams Tour. That original unedited voice recording appears on the album (titled WOTW / POTP), a bold nod to the raw and organic sound the band were trying to capture. Chris performed a slightly more polished version at a concert in Jordan, jokingly adding: “I finally finished the lyrics … just in time”.
Arabesque was once a completely different song, written and recorded about ten years ago and at one point slated for inclusion on Mylo Xyloto. This version of Arabesque is built on a riff composed by Jonny, Will and Guy during the Viva sessions. The song’s ambient opening samples that original Arabesque, as well as Jerusalem street sounds recorded on Chris Martin’s phone. Nigerian musician Femi Kuti adds horns, while Belgian singer Stromae sings the French verse.
The choral When I Need A Friend was inspired by the hymns Chris Martin sang in church as a child. Additional vocals are provided by the London Voices choir. The ambient rain noises in the track are sampled from a 2012 documentary called Everything Is Incredible, a film which tells the story of a disabled man in Honduras who has been building a helicopter in his home. Penultimate track Champion Of The World takes lyrical inspiration from that same story.
Chris Martin brought a demo of Guns — complete with aggressive and expletive lyrics — to the band, expecting them to reject it. Instead, Guns found itself in the final tracklist. According to Chris, the song “fell through” in about five minutes and was recorded in a basement (inspired by Bruce Springsteen’s recording process for Nebraska). Rammstein and Bob Dylan are cited as influences for the song’s main riff, while guitarist Jonny Buckland adds subtle keyboard.
The album’s first single was actually the final piece of music recorded, completed in the last week of the album’s recording sessions. The band felt the album was “finished” until a demo recorded on Chris Martin’s phone — a piece of music he felt had been “handed to him” and was intending to save for their next project — was deemed too good not to record. The song features a choir of singers, including Chris’ two children. His son Moses also receives a writing credit.
Chris Martin brought Èkó to the band after recording a version of the song himself in Los Angeles. The track takes its title from Lagos (Èkó in the native Yoruba language), the largest city in Nigeria. Fittingly, Nigerian singer Tiwatope Savage provides the female vocals which accompany Chris’ own voice throughout.
Cry Cry Cry was in part inspired by the doo-wop Earth Angel, a song from Chris Martin’s favourite movie, Back To The Future. After listening to the 1963 song Cry Baby by Garnet Mimms, Chris wrote a new song built around that tune. Consequently, Cry Baby composers Bert Berns and Jerry Ragovoy receive a songwriting credit. The high-pitched vocal effect is actually Chris singing as a character called “Angelina”, a musical persona the band intend to revisit.
Old Friends is a song written about Chris Martin’s childhood best friend, Tony. According to Chris, Tony saved him when, during a bike ride, Chris was almost hit by a car. A decade or so before the release of Everyday Life, Tony passed away from leukemia.
Translating to Bani Adam (literally “Children of Adam”), the song’s opening solo piano section has existed since at least 2010 — Chris played the piece at a concert in December of that year. The second half of the track is built on a jam the band composed while soundchecking at Saturday Night Live some years earlier. Atop that instrumental is a recording of Dr. Shahrzad (Sherry) Sami reading the titular poem.
Considered a “cornerstone” song around which the rest of the album evolved, the band wanted to create an “underdog anthem” and the track took the longest of any to record (a continuous process of adding and taking away elements). Chris Martin was inspired to write the song after listening to Scott Hutchison’s 2014 track, Los Angeles, Be Kind, taking both riff and chord inspiration from that piece. Hutchison, who has a co-writing credit, passed away in 2018. The band unveiled Champion Of The World on his birthday.
The album’s titular track almost never was, the band later realising the sentiment “everyday life” summed up everything they wanted to say on the record. Bassist Guy Berryman remarked that he was very fond of Everyday Life’s recording process, and drummer Will Champion’s wife Marianne adds background vocals on the track. It’s not the first time Champion’s wife has featured in a Coldplay track — she’s the inspiration behind the early Coldplay rarity Sweet Marianne.
After 2008’s Viva La Vida, Coldplay conceived an acoustic and organic record called The Wedding Album. Eventually shelved in favour of the pop epic Mylo Xyloto (2011), that original idea gave rise — a decade later — to 2019’s Everyday Life. Presented as a short double album (“Sunrise” and “Sunset”), the LP had an enjoyable recording process — short, intense bursts of living and playing together in interesting locations across the globe (and on tour). The stripped-back record furthers the band’s desire to experiment and expand their sound, adding to the repertoire gospel and doo-wop music and, for the first time, swearing.