The band that brought us the emotional hit “How To Save A Life”, an anthem in the mid-2000s, is none other than The Fray. The song was released in 2005 and it immediately became a hit amongst teenagers, used in commercials and TV shows, as well as finding its way into the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart. The song was more than just a catchy chorus and a tune to hum along to, however, it was also inspired by lead singer Isaac Slade’s experience volunteering for a suicide hotline, and it raised awareness about depression, suicide, and mental health.
In this article, we’ll be breaking down what the song "How To Save A Life" means and what people can learn from it, as well as highlighting the band, The Fray.
What Does "How To Save A Life" Mean?
The lyrics of "How To Save A Life" paint a vivid picture of a conversation between a troubled teenager and an adult figure who is trying to help. The narrator is trying to understand the motives behind the teenager's actions while the teenager is withdrawing, using harsh words and avoiding the conversation. Both are trying to find common ground and help each other out.
The chorus of the song lyrically resonates with anybody who has ever felt helpless or hopeless, “Where did I go wrong?/I lost a friend/Somewhere along in the bitterness/And I would have stayed up with you all night/Had I known how to save a life.”
Behind these lyrics lie the desperate desire to help a loved one who is struggling, but not knowing how to do so. The song acknowledges that the situation is both emotionally and mentally taxing, and the struggle may not have a simple solution.
What Can We Learn from "How To Save A Life"?
One of the most important and relevant lessons derived from "How To Save A Life" is the importance of mental health awareness. During the mid-2000s, a topic like suicide, depression, or anxiety was still mostly considered taboo. It was far less open and discussed than it is now. "How To Save A Life" was the first song to openly discuss depression and suicide in such a profound manner with lyrics that resonated with a wide audience.
It is critical to understand how the simple act of asking someone else how they are doing and being there to listen can save a life. Not everyone who is going through a tough time is going to reach out to someone for help. Therefore, if someone notices a friend or someone they know needs support, the best thing to do is to listen to them and take action if needed. For instance, offering a listening ear and showing empathy can make a considerable impact on someone's well-being.
How To Save A Life by The Fray has done more than just raise awareness about mental health. Still today, the song continues to resonate with people across the world. It has inspired people to volunteer in their communities, donate to mental health charities, and speak up about their own experiences. Through its message, the song has helped thousands of people find a path to recovery, hope, and support.
Who are The Fray?
The Fray is an American rock band from Denver, Colorado. Formed in 2002 by Isaac Slade (vocals, piano) and Joe King (guitar, backing vocals), the band has consisted of the same members since its inception. Dave Welsh (guitar), Ben Wysocki (drums), and later, Caleb Slade (bass), joined the band, rounding out its signature sound.
The Fray's music is essentially guitar-driven anthemic pop rock, as their hit songs "How To Save A Life", "You Found Me," and “Over My Head" are built on soaring choruses, explosive drums, and energetic guitar work. However, the piano-driven ballad "How To Save A Life" set them apart from other bands on the radio.
The Fray emerged at a time when music listeners were gravitating towards more experimental sounds. However, their relatable lyrics and undeniable melodies allowed them to find mainstream success.
Although the band had been around since 2002, it wasn't until the release of their debut album, “How To Save A Life,” that they gained fame. The album produced massive hits like "Over My Head (Cable Car)" and the title track, "How To Save A Life." This album was released in 2005, and the band has since released four more studio albums, including a "greatest hits" album.
"How To Save A Life" by The Fray has become one of the most iconic songs from the mid-2000s, with its emotionally charged lyrics and relatability. Although it was written about Slade's experience volunteering for a suicide hotline, its message resonates with people today, as we continue to strive towards mental health awareness and support. The Fray has been fairly quiet following their last album release in 2014. However, their legacy through songs like "How To Save A Life" continues to inspire listeners to support each other and raise awareness for social issues. The Fray is a band that will always be remembered for their willingness to tackle tough topics and their ability to create meaningful songs that resonate with people of all ages.