The Story of... 'Chasing Cars' by Snow Patrol

27 March 2019, 16:48

Snow Patrol
Picture: Interscope/YouTube

By Tom Eames

Snow Patrol scored their biggest hit in 2006 with 'Chasing Cars', and it has been used in countless TV shows, movies, adverts and more ever since.

But what is the meaning behind the song's emotive lyrics and what was its inspiration?

Here are all the important facts every fan should know:

  1. Who wrote 'Chasing Cars'?

    Lead singer Gary Lightbody wrote the song, though it is credited to all then-members of Snow Patrol: Jonny Quinn, Nathan Connolly, Tom Simpson and Paul Wilson.

  2. 'Chasing Cars' meaning: What is the song about?

    Gary Lightbody is said to have written the song after becoming sober following a binge of white wine, while sitting in the garden of song producer Jacknife Lee's Kent cottage.

    The song sees Gary singing a simple melody over sparse guitars, with an ever-building crescendo.

    Speaking to Rolling Stone, he said: "It's the purest love song that I've ever written. There's no knife-in-the-back twist. When I read these lyrics back, I was like, 'Oh, that's weird.'

    "All the other love songs I've written have a dark edge."

    The phrase 'Chasing Cars' came from Gary's father, referring to a girl Gary was infatuated with: "You're like a dog chasing a car. You'll never catch it and you just wouldn't know what to do with it if you did."

  3. What TV shows has it featured in?

    'Chasing Cars' became a big hit in the States, after its use in the TV drama One Tree Hill's third-season finale episode, 'The Show Must Go On'.

    A few weeks later, the song appeared on the second-season finale of Grey's Anatomy.

    The song was also made into a music video for the medical show, as a promotion for its third season. It was later heard again in the 18th episode of the show's seventh season in 2011.

    It was also performed as the last live performance on Top of the Pops.

  4. How did it perform in the charts?

    The song has one of the most fascinating chart runs in UK history. Released as a download-only single in July 2006, and followed by a CD version a few weeks later, it originally peaked at number six.

    However, by November the CD single was deleted and, due to chart rules at that time, the song was removed from the chart two weeks later, after 17 weeks in total.

    It was then absent from the chart altogether for seven weeks, but by January 2007, a change to the rules meant that all downloads, with or without a physical version, were now eligible.

    It then suddenly returned at number nine, and remained on the chart for 48 consecutive weeks, purely on downloads.

    But 2013, the song racked up an amazing 111 weeks on the UK Top 75, making it the 2nd longest runner of all time, behind only Frank Sinatra's 'My Way'. It sold its millionth copy in the UK in October 2013.

    In the US, it peaked at number five in the main Billboard Hot 100 chart.

  5. Who has covered it?

    Tim McGraw and Faith Hill covered the song during the 2007 leg of their Soul2Soul II Tour.

    In September 2014, Ed Sheeran performed a version of the song on MTV. Lightbody also joined Ed for a live version in 2012 (watch above).