What does How to Save a Life mean?

The Fray: How to Save a Life Meaning

Album cover for How to Save a Life album cover

Song Released: 2006

How to Save a Life Lyrics

Step one you say we need to talk
He walks you say sit down it's just a talk
He smiles politely back at you
You stare politely right on through
Some sort of window to your right
As he goes left and you stay right
Between the lines of fear...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Nov 3rd 2006 !⃝

    The title track, "how to save a life," was inspired by slade's experience as a mentor to a crack addicted teen. "I was a sheltered suburban kid when I met this guy. He was a recovering addict, coming out of a really tough teenage life. Thankfully, he was on his way out of that life, so he was able to really look back with some objectivity. The song is more of a memoir about his slow motion descent and all the relationships he lost along the way." destined to be one of the band's greatest hits, slade isn't worried about getting tired of performing the song: "it is the easiest one for me to sing every night. I constantly get emails from people who relate to it."

    this is from their official website...


    #2 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Oct 10th 2006 !⃝

    It's about suicide. It's someone trying to help someone from hurting themselfves and thinking back on how they should have listened instead of thinking what to say or how they should have stayed up with the person all night. The song really means how to save a life.


    #3 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Nov 4th 2006 !⃝

    It's about suicide.

    I just got out of the hospital. I have major depression and had been struggling with suicidal thoughts for months. And so many people knew and thought if they just said a few cliches to me that it would go away. Or they'd get mad at me or say I wasn't serious and I felt so alone. I know those people, if they had known how to save my life, would have stayed up with me all night. And then they would have taken me to a hospital and gotten me help. The people who knew what to do wouldn't help me. I left messages at psychiatrists' offices begging for help and their secretaries, when I finally got a hold of them, would say they didn't accept my insurance. And when I asked where I was supposed to go, what I was supposed to do, they said they didn't know. Good luck. But my friend and my parents, had they known what to do, they would have done it.

    But they didn't know and I couldn't tell them for so long. By the grace of god I finally made my friend take me to the emergency room. I'd listened to this song so many times, and all I could think was, if I didn't get to a hospital, that this is how my mom and my friend would have felt. I didn't want them to feel this way. Every time I hear this song, I wish people would get online and look up how to save their friends, whether it's from drugs or alcohol or suicide. Stay up all night if you need to and get help, whether they're capable of asking for it or not. Get help.

  4. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    May 14th 2023 !⃝

    To me the life this person is talking about isn't a literal life but the life you build with someone.

    A couple who is fighting
    "Step one we need to talk" Sounds the like the start of a break up.
    "A list of what is wrong, things you have told him all along. Pray to god he hears you." Meaning this isnt the first time she is telling him what she needs from him.

    "Grant him one last choice. Drive till you loose the road (stay together) or break with the ones you follow (break up)"

    They lost a friend in the bitterness which is the key in a relationship and if they stayed up all night and sorted out their issues then they would have known how to save their life together.

  5. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Apr 2nd 2023 !⃝

    I relate to it but in completely different way to everyone else. Before learning what the true intent of the lyrics were... I thought it was written from the point of view of someone who had a friend that was in a relationship with a man who was a perpetrator of domestic violence and ends up killing her.
    And the singer wishes they had of known how to save her, as it's very difficult to intervene in a domestic violent situation. As much as it is difficult to get out of one.

  6. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jul 24th 2021 !⃝

    I do not understand from the lyrics where you get your interpretation from. My original understanding was that a best friend had cheated with his best friends girlfriend and could not find the words to explain that to him. Instead he allows his friend to charge off into the night and crash his car.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  7. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    May 16th 2021 !⃝

    This song is definitely about suicide basically saying if he had stayed up all night he could've saved his friend's life.

  8. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Apr 24th 2021 !⃝

    This song is about suicide im only 14 and im very suicidal ive been 2 like 4 mental hospitals and they do nothing anymore but lock me in a little room with nobody and nothing to make me realize im hurting the people around me and it kills me i have scares everywear and it hurts seeing them everyday

    Before i started being suicidal my mom got into a really bad I accident and broke every bone in her body from her hips down and it was very hard on me and my dad once my mom finally recovered I found out that my dad had left my mom and I started dating this girl this girl got him back into doing drugs and he called my mom the night before he had passed away.me and my mom were The last people to be on the phone with him in the song how to save a life reminds me and her of him and it hurts sm becuase we should have saved me but we couldn’t

    If anyone who reads this really needs someone to talk to people text me here sre all my socials
    Please call me im here for u i can call u and be on the phone with u 24/7 just to save a life

  9. Lexie
    click a star to vote
    Nov 4th 2020 !⃝

    This song is about a lot. It's emotional, and really makes you feel the connection. It's about a suicide, and how this guy wasn't able to save his friend, because he didn't know how. I recently had a suicide attempt, and luckily I survived it. I look back and realize how thankful I am that my attempt didn't go through. Just know that I am here if you ever need to talk, just shoot me a text, and I will help you (620)-204-1056

  10. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Apr 30th 2020 !⃝

    A man is looking back on a moment in his life where he lost an important person. He's thinking, "Where did I go wrong?" And the line, I lost a Friend says it all. A friend lost to suicide.

  11. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Sep 28th 2018 !⃝

    This song reminds me of all that I have lost and how many times I have wanted to save there lives how much I wanted to make memories with them that would last forever. there has been some days that I feel it is my job to save everyones life even tho it might cost mine. So this song hits really close to home for me.

  12. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Sep 5th 2018 !⃝

    It he feels he failed his friend from his sucide now feels he could do better and feels guilty for not saving him he been tried to prevent his sucide but he went ahead and kill himself- this songs really ive tried killl myself so many times but songs help me realise theys more to life now im slowly recovering and another thing think about my unborn child (im 5 weeks pregnant} even though still think about killing myself but with the love my friend who help me though the dark times, my family & my hubby (as the baby) who save me from commiting sucide so if feel like kill yourself watch vid (when a bit better) im living proof im a surviour.

  13. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Aug 15th 2018 !⃝

    it about sucide and how didnt help him- i know that feels i just tried kill myself last friday and failed but i still feel sucidal and no one listening im getting help with nurses at GP but wait over 2 weeks still im getting help so i know how this feels at the mo hopfully i get help soon all can say if you want to die- get help fast it may save your life

  14. AshD
    click a star to vote
    May 9th 2018 !⃝

    I think this is about suicide caused from bullying or cyber-bullying. People can stop bullying, they are just too cowardly or scared to stop it.

  15. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Dec 11th 2017 !⃝

    Somebody guilt tripping about the suicide of a friend who feels like it was they're fault.

  16. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Nov 7th 2017 !⃝

    what is the theme in this song? for example, love, happines etc

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  17. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Oct 9th 2017 !⃝

    There is always going to be someone you can't save and it hurts not being able to understand what they mean. Struggling with depression and anxiety isn't easy, the thoughts get to the point where you can't take it anymore. A friend of mine shared the same feeling and experiences I had so we tried to help each other the best we could to stay away from the thoughts that ate at us, but in the end it was enough to handle for her.

  18. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Oct 1st 2017 !⃝

    This is the original intention:
    Slade claims that the song is about all of the people that tried to reach out to the boy but were unsuccessful. As Slade says in an interview, the boy's friends and family approached him by saying, "Quit taking drugs and cutting yourself or I won't talk to you again," but all he needed was some support. The boy was losing friends and going through depression. He lost his best friend and could not deal with it. The verses of the song describe an attempt by an adult to confront a troubled teen. In the chorus, the singer laments that he himself was unable to save a friend because he did not know how.

‹ prev 123456789

More The Fray songs »


Latest Articles


Submit Your Interpretation

[ want a different song? ]

(We won't give out your email)