Travis's frontman Fran Healy was watching TV one afternoon in 1999, with the sound turned down. Something about swing beat was on MTV. Healy reached for his guitar and began to hum along to the silent video, working his fingers around the chords of a new song. "When it naturally got to a sort of chorus-y part, I started singing, 'Swing... If you swing, swing, swing, swing'," Healy said.
The melody took shape and next day Healy took it to his bandmates in the studio. With Andy Dunlop on piano and banjo, bassist Dougie Payne and drummer Neil Primrose, Healy strummed his new song about a children's swing. The band became engrossed, and cut a demo. Halfway through the chorus, Healy altered "swing" to "sing". Listening to the playback, he heard a song about the recuperative powers of singing, rather than children in the playground.
The track was recorded some months later in Los Angeles, with producer Nigel Godrich. It was destined for the third Travis album, The Invisible Band. Issued as a single, it became an airplay fixture of summer 2001, the band's biggest hit and a favourite with buskers. "People look at people in the street that sing like they're mad," Healy said. "But it's about having fun, feeling good and all that stuff."
The song has also featured on numerous film and television soundtracks, including Torchwood and the US version of The Office.