The Fray – How To Save A Life
This song is about the experience of the lead Singer of the band (Isaac Slade) as a mentor in a camp of troubled teens in Denver, called Shelterwood. One of his friends was the head teacher there, and he spent there a week.
There, he was the mentor of a 17-years-old, who told him his story. He was addicted to a lot of different drugs and alcohol, in recovery. His story was shocking, according to Isaac. He told him that there were a lot of people who tried to help him, save him. According to the guy, as enemies; saying: “if you don’t stop taking drugs I stop talking to you”; when all he needed was a friend, someone who was in his team.
That story made him think, who admits know lots of people with the same attitude: “I’m doing something wrong, that I know is going to hurt me, o hurt the people I love. And they try to help me and I just ignore them”. He says that, sometimes, is difficult to know what to say, when to say, and how much to push somebody until this person stops taking your phone calls. Isaac Slade says that “if I don’t know you, and I tell you not to do something because you’re going to hurt yourself; we don’t know each other, you don’t care about me, and I don’t care about you. But if your best friend tells you to stop, because you’re going to hurt yourself, you should trust that person. Those are the people you’re going to hold on the rest of your life”.
According to him, that’s a frustrating situation of being a parent: they love their kid so much, and they want him to be happy and healthy; and they were watching him killing himself slowly or all at once. But this story didn’t end up that bad as it might be thought, the guy got help, he was in the place to. And he started reaching again those people. This was told by Slade in an interview from 2007, where he also said that he still talks to him.
That story also made him think about all the relationships he has lost because of the decision he has made, and how he’d like people to talk to him if he’s doing something wrong.
In the other hand, an interviewer asked Slade if he saw a lot of this in his neighborhood. He told him that he grew up in a protected air. But his response was: “I had friends in who tried to commit suicide, forget about live… whether it was throw alcohol or any of that stuff” He says he’s not like some “savior” or something similar, that they wrote the song because he thought unable to reach those people.
The Singer admits have cried with the song live. Even, Joe King, guitarist of the band, said in a documentary of the album with the same name; that Isaac Slade started crying while they were playing the song in the studio one time. Either way, they didn’t stop, they carried on playing and then, Joe came to Isaac, like “what’s wrong?”
There’s a happy ending, or not? That’s what they asked Isaac in the same interview. It has been told that the guy survived, but it doesn’t mean every history related to it ends up the same.
Is there a happy ending, or not? That ¡s what they asked the singer in the same interview, mentioned before. It is already told that the guy survived, but it doesn’t mean that every single story related to the song ends up like this. The song is open to interpretation, and the singer meets people every concert. “There are people that tell me their own stories, and for them it’s about kill themselves, or they got someone who committed suicide… it’s not a happy ending, it’s not like a story book conclusion for a lot of people’s, a lot of people’s life”, recalls Slade.
And, in the end, Slade talks about How To Save A Life as the most relevant personal confession he has ever written in a song, that, told by Isaac Slade, is a lot.