Lead singer Chris Martin has said that the lyrics are about being devoted to someone, wanting to do anything for them: writing a song for them, swimming across the sea for them and so on. He said that it's not necessarily a romantic devotion, but could be about someone that you look up to and would do anything for, a brotherly love. He claims to have had no specific person in mind when he wrote it.
The band came up with the line "Look at the stars, look how they shine for you" after looking up at the night sky. They were recording in Wales, which had a nice, clear sky.
The color yellow can have many negative implications ("Yellow Journalism," "Yellow Fever," a "Yellow Card" for a foul in soccer), but for Coldplay, it is a beautiful color. According to lead singer Chris Martin, "It was simply because that word sounded nice, it just seemed to fit, no other reason. None of the other colors would have sounded right really!" The Beatles were kind to the color when they used it in their song "Yellow Submarine
Martin initially wrote the words and melody, then the rest of the band wrote the other bits and pieces (the hook, the riff, fills, etc.).
"Yellow" is a term that can mean cowardly or afraid. From this standpoint, the singer could be afraid and nervous to show his love, until he "ran across" and "jumped across" for her. He finally got the nerve to express his love.
This was a hit in their native England, but it didn't do nearly as well in the US, where it took Coldplay longer to catch on. The song did have tremendous crossover appeal, however, and got lots of airplay on modern rock, adult contemporary and pop radio stations.
The video is one continuous shot of Chris Martin walking on a beach in England. The plan was to shoot the band walking along a sunny beach with lots of people lying around, but Coldplay drummer Will Champion's mother died shortly before the shoot. The film crew and extras were already hired, so with the band's blessing, Martin went by himself while the other members attended the funeral. It was raining that day, so instead of using the extras, they had Martin alone on the beach. Parachutes
is dedicated to Champion's mother.
The video was shot at a fast shutter speed to achieve the slow-motion. In order for Martin to sing along, he had to lip-sync to the song played at double speed.
Coldplay was in England recording other tracks for the album while this was being mixed in New York. They hated the results of the mix and flew to New York to make sure they got the sound they were looking for.
ABC Television used this song to promote their shows. The campaign featured bright yellow backgrounds.
This won a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album. This was nominated for Best Rock Song, but lost to "Drops Of Jupiter" by Train.
When performing this song, Chris Martin used to change the song's melody. However, R.E.M's Michael Stipe advised against it: "Stop doing that. People want to hear the songs the way they know them." The Coldplay vocalist began singing all their songs in a straightforward way.
During the Coldplay episode of VH1's Storytellers series, Chris Martin recalled that the song was named after the book that happened to be nearest to him when we he was finishing writing it: The UK telephone directory, which is named Yellow Pages.
Martin says that his favorite color is blue, not yellow.