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The Fray: How to Save a Life Meaning

Song Released: 2006

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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...


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    Nov 3rd, 2006 11:15am report

    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...


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    Nov 28th, 2012 11:54pm report

    IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO READ THIS WHOLE REVIEW, just read: "The three most important lines of the song."

    The song is a story with an impact, but the three lines are most key to give their message.


    This song is about a drug addiction that leads to a loss of a friendship. In the song, when he says he lost a friend, this could mean to death or lost his friendship, and when he says "how to save a life," he's focusing on the life of the true friend he was. The best friend he once was, but he changed.

    The talk, they have in the beginning of the song, is about any struggles that the friend is having (probobly a drug addiction that the friend doesn't beleive to be a problem). He knows better than his friend, and he just wants to help. He sits him down for a talk. (its more than just a talk, but you say its just a talk, hoping he cooperates) "He (the friend) stares politely right at you," meaning he's doing what you say, and listening, as you would want him to do (its polite), but "you stare right on through." you look at him, durring the conversation, knowing its more than just a talk. You hope for a better talk than the previous ones, and you hope he actually listens this time.

    "Some sort of window to the right, as he goes left and you stay right."
    This gives the idea, that theres a disagreement. (two different directions). You ignore the fact that the wording of that sentence is a little strange. When you read it again, you know its not just a window. If it was, it would be insignificant. It wouldn't even be in the song. Its worded as "some sort of window..." The window, is a symbol of hope, and freedoms... just a bright path. As you pick the bright path, ("Some sort of window to the right ... you stay right"). He was on the same path with you. Your friend GOES LEFT. you STAY RIGHT. This is the inital moment, of you loosing your loved friend. This is the moment, he left the path, leading to a bright future. The moment, he begain experimenting with drugs and other harmful substances.

    You wish he hadn't gone the path he did. You want to help, and you try as much as you can to get him back. As he's on that seperate path, he begins to change. As you struggle to help, he's not trying at all. While your doing your best to help, you still blame yourself. You blame yourself for not keeping him on your path. Your help isn't doing anything and you gain so much frustration but you never give up on him, because he was your best friend. You will do anything, to get him back, and to hold on. You can't let go, even when you find the point that he's gone.

    "You begin to wonder why you came." You recodnize this, and you know that he's never tried to help himself before, and he wont now. Your efforts for your friend are worthless.

    You only try to help, and you blame yourself when he continues on his path of abusing drugs, and ignoring his addiction. You try but you can't do it alone. You blame yourself because you feel that you must have done something wrong. You feel you could have fixed it earlier. "where did i go wrong?" Your best friend is lost, and when you couldn't do enough, you struggle to find an answer of why things happened the way they did. you wrongly blame yourself.

    "I would have stayed up, with you all night, had i known, How to save a life"

    You try, and eventually let go. You give up on him because you dont know what else to do. You would have stayed with him all night (much longer), but you dont know what else to do to save him. You dont know how to save his life. (your friendship with him and his personality, from when he was the friend he used to be)

    "let him know that you know best, because after all you do know best." When someone is addicted, they are too blind by the addiction to notice. You know best (a friend not abusing the drug) because you noticed the effects. you know the risks, and the potential losses. he doen't. You do know best. It is a fact.

    You try to convince him that his addiction is a problem. You try to explain what he's loosing. You want to get past all his lies and ignorance (his defense), "without granting innocence" ...without telling the abuser, that he hasn't done anything wrong. the fact is that he has done something wrong, and he currently is. "the list of what is wrong" is all of the things that he's struggling with. Its the things wrong with him. the ways he's changed. They other things he could lose. The things on this list are the things you've been trying to tell him for so long.

    "Pray to god it cures you. And i pray to god it cures you" You wish that he has a moment of aknowledgement. You pray he realizes the pain he's had all along. you pray that his old personality, that he once had comes back. For the sake of him and the people who loved him (pray to god it cures you, tells the addicted hope he gets cured for his own sake -- I pray to god it cures you, is hopeing he's cured for the sake of the ones who care for him)


    "He begins to raise his voice, you lower yours and grant him one last choice"

    Again, all your efforts are worthless. He just gets more mad again. He fights everything you've said and doesn't think truely about anything so you stop fighting.

    You grant him one last choice:
    1)Drive until you lose the road
    2)Break with the one that follows

    This road is the same thing as earlier in the song, where he's going left and your going right.

    You granting one last choice, is you confronting your friend. You say you can either...
    1)Continue his life with his drugs, ignoring the problems and risks, and harm he gives others


    2)Listen to us, and know where trying to help. Stop the addiction (or at least make an attempt) and return to the ones that love you.

    "He will do one of two things"

    1)"He will admit to everything" (break with the [road] he follows) And get help, recodnize his issue and listen to the people helping him. ((Best case scenario))


    2)"he'll say he's just not the same" He'll convince he's not the same person. This would mostly be presented as, I've grown up, or Im not a little boy anymore-- just some way not thinking the drugs were ever a problem.

    ...he says hes just not the same

    "You being to wonder why you came"
    Its a painful cycle. The friend he is now is hardly a friend, but the person he used to be was one of the best friends youve had. You struggle to save him with worthless efforts. You recodnize that anything you do to help is pointless without him wanting to help himself.


    "Where did I go wrong , I lost a friend"

    -you blame yourself for your friends actions. You want to know what you did wrong to lose the friend you loved, but you will never know because you didn't do anything wrong.

    Leads to two...
    Because you feel its your fault, and you desire your old friend back, you go through all the troubles to try to help him.

    "You begin to wonder why you came (to help the friend)"

    -You know that all your efforts are worthless. He isn't helping you, or himself. You know, the friend you had, is lost. You give up on him.
    -It seems every time you try to help, things get worse, and only more frustrating.

    ...yet you can't let go of the friend he once was. the one thats gone. the one you wrongly blame yourself for loosing.

    "I would have stayed up with you (the friend) all night, had i known how to save a life"

    -If you had known any way you could have helped, you would have. You gave all you could to help but its not enough. You feel guilt but theres nothing more you could have done.

    -If you knew something would have healed him, you would have done anything to do it. You don't want anything more than for your old friend to survive, but your old friend is already gone.

    His death, leaves all who loved him with the guilt, and loss, of who he used to be. The person he became doesn't care at all. The drugs killed his friend, and replaced him with an angry, ignorant person who you dont aknowledge as your friend.

    The story is about the loss of a close friend. He isn't just lost. he is lost twice. They lose his personality, and try to get him back, but the fact is, the person he was is gone. The person he becomes, leads him to a premature death, and they lose him again. When he dies, it feels like you have lost the same person a second time.

    The morals of the story:
    1)Dont do drugs
    2)Do not give up on helping friends, with an addiction.
    3)Don't blame yourself, when you couldn't do anything more to save him
    4)Don't be influenced by other people's bad decsions
    5)You know, the right path. You know whats best. Stay on the bright path.


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    Nov 4th, 2006 11:11am report

    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.


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    May 9th, 5:06pm report

    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.


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    Dec 11th, 2017 12:57pm report

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


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    Nov 7th, 2017 11:00pm report

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


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    Oct 9th, 2017 10:37pm report

    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.


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    Oct 1st, 2017 10:48pm report

    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.


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    Sep 12th, 2017 9:03am report

    I think its about someone who needs help and its not too late to solve their problems with the help of good and trusting friends.


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    Aug 18th, 2017 8:25am report

    I've come back back on and off to looping this song for a decade now.

    I've always interpreted the lyrics as:
    Two lovers. They have been together for at least a year now. Song is speaking to a younger, innocent girl who has her shit together. She's confronting her (functioning addict) older boyfriend. He kept his addiction a secret from her, she just found out.

    He loves her back. Deep down he knows if he breaks her heart he will be lost forever.

    His addictions take control though. Her heart breaks. She feels guilty she could have done something to save him.

    The song is her reflection years after she's moved on.


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    Jul 2nd, 2017 7:18pm report

    hi I'm 13 and my friend died this year too. she was only 12. I think the song is about suicide. we could have listen to the problems of the person/s we loved. but when we recognized that it was really serious it was too late. and we think it was/is our fault. too late... :-(


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    May 25th, 2017 5:58pm report

    Hi guys I think this song is about how a boy had a suicidal friend and didn't do anything about it until iit was to late. I struggled with suicide for a while I flt like it was the only way to stop everything, but its not. My friends out there who are struggling with suicide don't do it please I beg you. I love you. The world excepts you so except yourself. I love am of you out there. If any off you can guess my name you will be happy to hear it


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    Apr 9th, 2017 4:31pm report

    In my opinion this song is about a person who lost his friend who committed suicide, and he is trying to figure out were he went wrong and by his friend did it. I have had experience with a friend and cousin and myself who has thought about suicide. Luckily I was ablke to get help and my cousin was to. If you are having thoughts get help as soon as possible. You are north it. The world loves you, people love you, I love all of you. The world excepted you so except yourself.


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    Apr 5th, 2017 4:04pm report

    actually the song is based on a story with the lead singer Isaac Slade. He was a mentor at a camp for troubled teens and he was paired with a boy who had a lot of problems. Well the boy i think died in a car accident with this song playing. Long story short it doesn't matter what the song is really based on. What matters is how people connect with it. i first thought it was about suicide but then i found it was something else. i know what its like to lose someone. I used to cry every time i heard this song. But yeah this song is all based on how you feel you can connect.


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    Mar 16th, 2017 3:00pm report

    If you want a good interpretation look here. My Dad went to high school with him so I have seen the lead singer, Isaac and know about his character a little bit. Your probably thinking that's irrelevant but it is not because then you know what their lyrics might be saying based on their character. This song is about the death of something or suicide. Mostly the death of something. This is briefly explained in the lyrics of this song. Such a pretty song but a dark meaning. Like I said before a know his character a little bit and when I first met him he was kind and caring. I also noticed he had all black on. Might of just been the day though.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway


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    Jan 10th, 2017 1:00pm report

    this song isnt about loss or suicide. its about something with the lead singer Isaac Slade. he used to work at a camp for troubled teens and he got paired with a 17 year old boy who had alot of issues. Later on the boy got into a car crash and died. Isaac wrote this song and they played it at the boys funeral. This song has a deeper meaning than most. Isaac Actually got close to this kid. He wrote the song because he didn't know how to save a life hense the lyrics " I would have stayed up with you all night had i known, How to save a life" this song has a deep enough meaning to cut you from the inside. I Lost my grandmother and i wanted to sing this song at her memorial. but the memorial was about remembering your loved ones. not excepting that they are gone. This song means alot. My cousins uncle died and this song would fit perfectly into the funeral.


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    Jul 23rd, 2016 7:13am report

    It's most likely about someone who couldn't recognise the signs of their friend needing help, until it was too late. It's a somewhat depressing song, but is very powerful. Sorry for the long interpretation. *virtual hug* Stay strong!


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    Feb 27th, 2016 2:50pm report


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