What does How to Save a Life mean?

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The Fray: How to Save a Life Meaning

Song Released: 2006

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How to Save a Life Lyrics

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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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    Aug 26th, 2008 8:05am report

    Personal interpretation: The love of my life is very ill. He will either die or live in a way that will never really be the same. In this song, I am analytically "talking" to him. "As he goes left and you stay right," I try to stay on the path we've been following, yet his deteriorating health leads him in another direction we were not originally headed for. "Between the lines of fear and blame, (I) begin to wonder why I came." I wonder why I'm here in this position. I am scared of losing him and blame myself, even him sometimes, for why this is happening to us.

    "Where did I go wrong, I lost a friend somewhere in the bitterness. And I would have stayed up with you all night had I known how to save a life." What happened to us, what could I have possibly done to bring this upon myself, upon him? I've lost him already, really, my best friend in this "bitterness," this terrible situation. Even if he lives, he won't be the same person as before. I would do anything to save him, to save us, if I just knew what to do.
    "Let him know that you know best, Cause after all you do know best. Try to slip past his defense without granting innocence." I continue to tell him everything will be okay, because, after all, this is the way I have to believe. He tells me though that I may be wrong and I don't really know what's going on. I ignore him, because I have to continue to believe. I continue to tell him he can't give up and that all of this is just temporary. I choose to believe that positive thinking can only help us, help him, and "I pray to God he hears (me)," even though I am silently doubtful (the desperateness in the tone and repetition of this lyric....).

    "As he begins to raise his voice .... break with the ones you've followed." He argues with me mainly about my not knowing what it's really like to be him right now. He's angry, and I let him be angry. I agree I don't really know. But he can choose to follow his own road or continue to follow me and believe that everything will be okay.

    "He will do one of two things....wonder why you came." He will choose to believe in my interpretation or his interpretation of the current situation ("say he's just not the same"). Since he will still not make a decision about this, "(I) begin to wonder why I came." Why I even continue with all of this....
    Again, "where did I go wrong" and how can I save him. The repetition and tone indicate desperation: I'm so f%^$#@(^ desperate to do whatever to save him, to have things be as much as possible the way they were before. And, finally, I'll just do anything to keep him alive... We have 2 children together 15 and 3. I can't do this by myself. I need him in any way possible. I do what I can to stay positive because it keeps me sane. But, please, please, please let me know "how to save a life."


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    Jun 5th, 2008 6:40pm report

    The first few lines remind me of a breakup, but it seems to get deeper. After analyzing it this is what I got.

    Here he is with his friend at a party, he's getting mad and angered at his friend for not listening. His friends drunk but thinks he can drive. He tries to talk sensibly but becomes overwhelmed by bitterness and his friend drives home and dies and he wished he knew how to save a life or how to control his anger.

    Just my opinion on it.


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    Apr 20th, 2008 4:56am report

    Well the truth is that it's about a troubled teens camp where this boy was trying to commit suicide so he got sent to this camp and the person that wrote this song talked to the boy that was trying to kill himself and one night they were sitting around talking and after a while they went to bed and when the person that wrote this song woke up in the morning the boy had committed suicide and then he wrote this song saying if he had stayed up all night he would have saved his life.


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    Mar 15th, 2008 3:37pm report

    I think it is about a girl who loses her love and she would have stayed up all night with him and he is doing drugs. eventually they fade apart because he chose not to listen to what she had to say and if he would have listened they still would have been friends. She wonders what she did wrong and what happened to her friendship. She only wanted to help and he got mad at her for trying to and walked towards the other direction trying to ignore her. The song has much, meaning.

    Summarized, I think it is a girl who lost a best friend cause he chose to do drugs and didn't want to listen to her so she gave him the choice to leave or listen and he chose to leave and she wonders what she did wrong


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    Mar 1st, 2008 3:23pm report

    Actually, the story behind the song is a long one.

    Isaac volunteered at a substance abuse camp for teens and befriended a kid there. when Isaac tries to tell the kid to stop (he was a counselor-type thing) the kid doesn't listen. The kid goes and gets high, steals a car, and leaves. He crashes on the side of the road and dies.

    Isaac is now left feeling guilty and blaming himself because he feels like he didn't do enough. (where did I go wrong) so he lost a friend and blames himself for not realizing what an issue this kid has soon enough.


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    Jan 23rd, 2008 1:36pm report

    The song is about a couple. The girl found out he cheated on her. She is going to confront him. He gets very defensive and they are breaking up. He cheated on her out of bitterness. The girl is blaming it on herself. Her friend (the person singing) warned her that he would either admit to everything or try to convince her that he's changed. The friend is trying to tell her its a waste of time to confront him because she's not going to hear anything she wants to. THERE IS NO OTHER EXPLANATION


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    Jan 4th, 2008 1:52pm report

    She's on your mind.........lol I love over my head. anyways, this song is about death and someone losing a close friend or really everyone sorta interprets it how they want


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    Jan 4th, 2008 1:45am report

    I think this song is about a person who's friend committed suicide, and the person is sad and wished they knew how to save the friend or "Save a life." A lot of people seem to think that the song is about a person worried about how to save someone else's life by talking, like the person hasn't died yet, but there's one part in the song where it says "Where did I go wrong, I LOST a friend." Not, "I might LOSE my friend." So something obviously already happened and the main singer is just regretting it all. But then, if you watch the music video, it's confusing because it's like Isaac is teaching all those kids about saving lives or something, so that's confusing. I've listened to the song like 100 times to try to figure it out. Isaac uses a lot of expressions and if you think about every thing he says, I think that's what's confusing to a lot of people. For example, here is one part of the song:

    "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"

    But then he's back to 1st person, and he keeps switching from 3rd person to 1st, and I think this song is sorta hard to understand because the singer sang it all a little mixed up, because the singer wanted people to relate to this song from relatives who died, or for this to make them think of friends or whoever they are worried about, and a lot of people say this song is about drugs and alcohol, so that too. But what do I know! The only reason why I'm thinking about this is because it's 1:43 am and I can't sleep and I love the song "Over My head" So I went on youtube and listened to it since I don't have it on my ipod yet, and then I got bored and wondered what other songs the fray sang and then I saw "The fray-How To save a life" and I started thinking about what the song ment, and ya, you get it. I'm really just wasting my time, so you might as well not listen to me anyways, I mean I'm only 11, but oh well!


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    Dec 27th, 2007 12:33am report

    We think this song is not about the drug stuff. This song is about someone who has broken up and the singer is talking about how the other person is "stareing politely right on through" like...she doesn't even see him! He wishes he would've known what to do to save the life they had but now he's lost his friend forever.


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    Dec 2nd, 2007 12:24am report

    I think dis songs mainly about a guy who lost his best friend to drugs? and how he should've stayed awake den he might of been able to stop his friend by dying and could've saved his life. And now he feels like its his fault xx


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    Nov 29th, 2007 11:13pm report

    I listened to this song and it reminded me of my best friend who died when I was 3. But this song is about suicidal, someone dying and/or someone taking drugs and choosing drugs over you or others. Be the bigger person help someone if he/she/they think of these things. Talk to them before its to late!


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    Oct 16th, 2007 10:54pm report

    Im surprised to see how many people immediately thought of drugs. personally when I hear this song I think about suicide.

    "Lay down a list of what is wrong
    The things you've told him all along
    And pray to God he hears you "
    i thought of suicide b/c there's usually signs and you can only hope they listen to you...

    either way this song is excellent!


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    Oct 9th, 2007 10:33am report

    I think Slade is writing about an honest attempt to try and help a friend (or a teen at a camp, as it turns out to be) out of a downwards slide towards suicide, but which unfortunately wasn't as supportive as he meant it to be. He highlights areas he could have done better, but did not realise at the time, such as "Try to slip past his defense/Without granting innocence". He wishes he could have done better, have known more what was best to say. "Lay down a list of what is wrong" He expresses his fervent wish that he could have said enough to have prevented his friend (the teen) from taking his own life, declaring he would have taken every effort "I would have stayed up with you all night".

    He also attempts to convey how awful it was for the friend (or teen) to have gone up the path that has led him to where he is now "You stare politely right on through". He describes the "bitterness" of the affair, his frustration at a mind which is set upon destroying itself, until you allow exasperation to overcome you and "grant him one last choice".

    Personally it reminds me of how I felt when I was trying to pull my boyfriend out of a depressed and somewhat self-destructive period of his life. Fortunately he was not as despondent as the subject of this song, and is fine now. My interpretation of the song may be quite influenced by this, but that is the point of songs, isn't it?


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    Sep 20th, 2007 9:53pm report

    My opinion is that this song is about a broken relationship. The "life" that could be saved represents the relationship.

    But I like drugs too. I wanna puff puff, some of that Dutch stuff...


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    Aug 21st, 2007 8:00am report

    My brother thought it was about like marriage counseling but I heard it was about like a councilor who was counseling this teenager with problems and they couldn't get through to them. That's my theory.

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