"What If" as written by Guy Rupert Berryman, William Champion, Christopher Anthony John Martin and Jonathan Mark Buckland....
What if there was no lie
Nothing wrong, nothing right
What if there was no time
And no reason, or rhyme
What if you should decide
That you don't want me there by your side
That you don't want me there in your life

What if I got it wrong
And no poem or song
Could put right what I got wrong
Or make you feel I belong

What if you should decide
That you don't want me there by your side
That you don't want me there in you life

Oooooooh that's right
Let's take a breath try to put it aside
Ooooooh that's right
How can you know it if you don't even try
Ooooooh that's right

Every step that you take
Could be your biggest mistake
It could bend or it could break
That's the risk that you take

What if you should decide
That you don't want me there in your life
That you don't want me there by your side

Oooooooh that's right
Let's take a breath try to put it aside
Ooooooh that's right
How can you know when you don't even try
Ooooooh that's right

Lyrics submitted by SMUSER17024245

"What If" as written by William Champion Guy Rupert Berryman

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Royalty Network

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What If song meanings
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  • +5
    General CommentThis is how drummer Champion explains this song, "Lyrically, its the best Chris has ever written. It sounds really pompous, but you know how Imagine talks about how what if everything was great? This is the flipside to that: if everything's shit, what would you do?"
    -Q magazine
    JJH070583on June 01, 2005   Link
  • +5
    General CommentI was driving alone in my car and listening to X&Y for the second time when I heard the song. And that time round something really clicked. Nobody really needs to know this (neither should anyone care too) but I need a place to vent about what this song means to me right now so I'll just go.

    I had recently broken up with my long term boyfriend. My reasons: I had fallen out of love with him. And that sucked cause we both knew we were a pretty good match for each other. And we both thought that we were going to make it through all the way. But I suppose everyone does at some point. The guy is a total angel, though. His friends were dissing me yet he stood up for me. Anyways, I was already feeling like the biggest bitch there ever was. To top it all off, I broke up with him 2 days before his birthday. Hence the massive, massive, massive guilt. Then when I heard the song, I just listened.

    I think that in other moods I would categorize the song under 'sad, touching break-up, lost love songs'. But when I listened to it then, I felt different. There seemed to be this brief moment of clarity where I realized these things happen and I shouldn't keep self-inflicting myself with so much guilt and that things were going to be okay for him eventually. Yeah well... it was a brief moment, albeit a necessary one. Too much guilt isn't good for one's mood and outlook.
    flying_fuckon July 28, 2005   Link
  • +4
    General CommentIt sounds like ode to bravery. Or mental state that's pushing us to make big decisions.
    I understood it like attempt to finally let someone go, when your mind is aware of the fact that it has to be done, though the heart hurts incredibly.
    So we "take a breath and jump over the side".
    So, even though we don't want to believe in the "what if" question, the mind keeps asking.
    If you were in a position to be the one that has to make a move, and the other side (whether it's a lover or a friend) is the one that has to go :( or that wants it but don't want to make you suffer and later feel guilty about that, you'll understand this song the same way.
    So, what if the time has come to let someone go?
    "What if I got it wrong
    And no poem or song
    Could put right what I got wrong
    Or make you feel I belong"
    So, no matter how hard I try, what if there is no way for making you stay?
    And "what I got wrong" is actually the way he understood things, it should not be understood as "what I did wrong".
    "What if I got it wrong" is a thing that you'd ask yourself if you were in a state of confusion for too long, that's the first thing you would ask yourself. Whether you are ready to accept it or not.
    When you love somebody and you feel it's wrong, you tend to feel sorry particularly because of that idea that IT COULD WORK; and, what if you got it wrong.....
    WorldEndson January 26, 2011   Link
  • +3
    MemoryI have an anxiety issue that I call the 'what ifs'. Like, if I'm waiting for someone or something and they're taking longer than usual, I get worried that something terrible or outrageous happened to them. This is just how I can relate to this song.
    TheSkinnyElephanton August 29, 2013   Link
  • +2
    General Comment"Oooh, that’s right
    Let’s take a breath, jump over the side
    Oooh, that’s right
    How can you know it if you don’t even try
    Oooh, that’s right"

    My perspective here is that he's not talking to a different person, but still to himself, opposing all the blank statements he said before (also explaining the sudden change in the music style and intensity) and says that at least he should try to make a brave move. At the end of the day, how can you know you'll fail if you don't even try??

    The next verse, which talks about how even a small step can radically change the outcome but that's the risk you must take, complements the above.
    Hectorcyon October 28, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentOMG COME ON! Hasn't anyone been in a relationship where the other person wasn't willing to commit or try because he/she was afraid of being hurt? This song is not about the fans nor is it about his daughter. It is most likely Chris asking Gwynethh to take a chance, let him into her heart, otherwise how will they ever know they really tried. I know this for a fact because I've been there... believe me... I still am...
    klodholzon January 25, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentWhat if means to me, What if you done something that you could never fix and much like "flying fuck" from page 1 said, the love is still there but nothing can fix that wrong. Understading that poems & songs are two of the closest things to literally exposeing your soul to aperson when written honestly for a person from another person. To go as far as to say that those twoemotionally charged things can not put this wrong that was done right is saying that it truly is a lost cause, and even though the love is still there, it may be time to take a breath and jump over the side because truthfully when two people love each other and no common ground can be found it is time to jump over the side because like Chris Martin said if you dont you will never know because you never try. When you can no longer be together with a person DESPITE how much you love them it tends to make you afraid to leave because a love so strong that it makes you afraid to leave even in the face of pain has to be a major and maybe even dare i say, a once in a lifetime thing.But on teh flipside of that is a failed relationship which still has love that strong is a horrible contradiction to live because the emotional side of you longs for that connection but the mental side of you wants to rescue you from teh pain of the realationship that has failed so you have to take a breath and jump over the side just to save yourselves
    Rakim360on October 11, 2008   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationI believe this song is about a man who is singing to a girl who is scared of falling for him possibly due to past experiences in relationships. She is terrified of taking a risk but the guy tries to reason with her:
    "Every step that you take, could be your biggest mistake
    It could bend or it could break, but that's the risk that you take"

    "Oooh that's right,
    Let's take a breath and put it aside"

    He is telling the girl to put her past relationship which caused so much hurt aside.

    "Oooh that's right,
    How can you know it if you don't even try?"

    How can she know what to expect from the relationship if she hasn't even tried it with the guy?

    This is a brilliant song I only found recently. What have I been missing?
    MirlyMeon November 12, 2012   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationI've always loved this song and I love the fact that I can return to it years after first hearing it and it can still be so meaningful to me in a completely different way. I'll offer my interpretation as it applies to me, but I encourage you to find it's own meaning for you. I hope my interpretation resonates with your own as well:

    The song tome is about a past love. Someone you were never able to express your feelings to, a close friend you fell in love with. Someone you've never let go of, but have maybe moved on from in your life.

    What if there was no lie? What if you never hid your feelings and kept your relationship as strictly friends/acquaintances? Nothing wrong and nothing right (your relationship was neutral).

    What if I got it wrong? What if I shouldn't have moved on because I thought it was the best thing to do? And now there's nothing I can do to get you back (no poem or song, could put right what I got wrong).

    The song offers hope. Put your doubts aside, your fears, your regrets. Take a breath and leave them be. You can't know until you try. And if you have the opportunity, then take it.

    But the doubt returns in the end of the song. What if? That's the question. What if you take that chance and you fail. And the person doesn't want you in their life? What if, by trying to right the wrongs, you shatter even the friendship you have or once had - effectively tarnishing the memories you hold onto. Then the last words ring once again. "How can you know when you don't even try?"

    I have the opportunity soon to reach out to someone I once loved so dearly, but could never tell. I've decided to take the chance. I don't expect my admission of feelings to be returned in any way. But I do expect the "what ifs" that haunt me to go away.

    A reminder to those that stop by to read these words: In the end you always regret your inactions more than you actions. I hope these words give this song more meaning to you and help you deal with your own problems as well.
    palatialon May 31, 2013   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis is Chris Martin being paranioid and it has a double meaning. I think its written to fans and Gwyneth Paltrow worrying about the fans not wanting Chris in their life and Gwyneth not wanting Chris by her side. If you listen to all of the lyrics, suddenly they all fit in to this idea.

    "What if I got it wrong
    And no poem or song
    Could put right what I got wrong"

    What if Chris made a mistake with Gwyneth and no poem of song could make it right again...

    What if Chris made a mistake with the fans and again, no other song or poem could put it back to how it was....

    I might be wrong but it seems to make sense to me.

    Also, the chorus is:

    oooo, thats right
    lets take a breath, try and pull it aside
    oooo, thats right
    how can you know it if you dont even try?
    PeteBaldwinon June 01, 2005   Link

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