One of the first tracks the band wrote, Don’t Panic was originally titled just Panic. An early version of the track appeared on The Blue Room, a pre-Parachutes extended play. That version of the song was more ambient with prominent keyboard. The band finally settled on the much warmer, acoustic guitar driven sound for Don’t Panic’s album release. Don’t Panic was recorded live, with some guitar overdubs from Jonny Buckland added later.
Chris Martin wrote the track while listening to Jeff Buckley, jokingly describing Shiver as a “blatant rip-off”. Chris was reportedly inspired by Australian singer and actress Natalie Imbruglia, though denied the track is specifically about her (years later, the band wrote two track for Imbruglia: Lukas and Fun). Shiver was recorded in both Wales and Liverpool and Chris’ vocals were done in one take.
A demo version of Spies existed as early as 1999; that version of the track was faster, with an ambient electronic intro. The final recording dropped that intro in favour of haunting slide guitar. A subtle piano riff present in the demo version’s outro was often added by the band when Spies was played live. Chris Martin spent three days in a room at Rockfield Studios in Wales trying to record the backing track.
Sparks was recorded at the same time as We Never Change, the album’s penultimate track. The album recording is “basically a live take”, with Jonny Buckland’s guitars added later in the recording process.
During a recording session for Shiver at Rockfield Studios in Wales, the band encountered a technical issue with a microphone. During that break, Chris Martin, while mucking around on an acoustic guitar and singing in a “Neil Young voice”, composed the verse for Yellow. Chris continued writing in the bathroom — with a nice echo — and the chorus arrived. According to producer Ken Nelson, bassist Guy Berryman came up with the line, “look at the stars”.
Trouble evolved from an earlier demo called Spiderwebs, which used the same verse chords, and an early version of the opening piano line (instead sung by Chris Martin). The melody and lyrical reference to spiderwebs in Trouble’s bridge were directly lifted from this demo. It took the band four takes to achieve the final recording.
Chris Martin played an extended piano version of the eponymous track during the Parachutes recording sessions, though the vocal and acoustic guitar arrangement triumphed. Parachutes took a number of takes to record. The song reportedly competed with both Don’t Panic and Yellow for the honor of the album’s titular track.
The first track recorded for the album, High Speed originally appeared on The Blue Room EP, released in 1999. After an extended break, the band teamed up with producer Ken Nelson to record Parachutes, retaining High Speed from their earlier recording sessions.
One of producer Ken Nelson’s proudest moments on the album, We Never Change was recorded live, vocals and all. The band tried a number of takes, but that first live recording — championed by Nelson — triumphed.
A live favourite (particularly at the annual Glastonbury Festival), Everything’s Not Lost was recorded in the last week of the Parachutes recording sessions. The track includes a hidden song called Life Is For Living, built around the same pump organ the band used on Don’t Panic.
After two EPs (Safety in 1998 and The Blue Room in 1999), Coldplay released their debut album, Parachutes, in 2000. The album’s 10 tracks include reimaginings of EP songs and early demos, as well as new tracks written during the album’s recording sessions in London and Wales. Under the tutelage of producer Ken Nelson, Parachutes’ warm, acoustic and strongly melodic sound announced the band to the world.