Every once I a while I have a reader contact me who has a different opinion than my own, which is Okay since this blog is a place for discussion. Rarely, however, does someone write in with more than one or two sentences to say.
But, this is not the case this time. Enrique M. has many good, well thought out points to make so I thought I would publish his lyrical analysis of the song How to Save a Life.
Here is Enrique’ take on this song:
I don’t think that this sing is necessarily depicting a friend giving advise to a girl. It’s a little simplistic and obvious assumption. A more keener interpretation would be someone’s regret on failing to stop a friend who subjected him/herself to something that has negatively impacted their lives thus resulting in death. When the speaker/singer says, “I lost a friend” it reveals this to us.
Having said this, the more possible interpretation of what this negative impact is is the subjection to the influence of drugs though it is not exactly specified in the song. It certainly isn’t the only possibility; it could also be something in regards to relationships but drugs seem the more potent possibility.
Through out the song there is a switch in Point of Views between first person and second person. By having implemented the first person point of view in the chorus, it demonstrates his personal involvement in the situation which he is talking well in this case singing about. This means that the speaker/singer has gone through the same experience of having lost a friend which explains his great acknowledgment of the situation. It is not directly advice that he gives; it is also a recount of what he had gone through. By placing the first person point of view in the chorus it creates this effect of interruption.
When the song is in the verses, the singer/speaker is recounting the situation but when it arrives at the chorus there is this sense of being cut off while the singer/speaker expresses his regret of having failed to have helped his friend.The chorus gives this sense of blame “Where did I go wrong.” Accompanied with this is regret, which is expressed through the line that says, “And I would have stayed up with you all night Had I known how to save a life.” So, he is regretting not only the fact that he failed to help his friend but also regretting that he did not know how to save him. But now that he knows, he says what he would have done to save his friend “And I would have stayed up with you all night.” This describes that he would have supported his friend with endless guidance and advise.
Since this is a blend of both a recall and advise, the advise is essentially given through this recalled experience. By explaining what happened between him and his friend, he is also allowing the reader/listener to learn from it. This is why the beginning of the second verse sounds more advice. “Let him know that you know best Cause after all you do know best” He also tells the reader/listener what to do to prevent them from falling into the same situation. “Try to slip past his defense Without granting innocence Lay down a list of what is wrong” The singer/speaker then begins to shift back into how he was personally involved. The paragraph for this purpose was set in the past tense.
“The things you’ve told him all along” The “all along” shows how this has been said for an extensive period of time though this is futuristic advice. The last two lines are just for encouragement. “And pray to God he hears you And pray to God he hears you” He is emphasizing the importance of keeping faith to avoid the tragedy of the situation, death.
There are particular moments of the song that also need to be taken into consideration. For example, the switch from saying “And you begin to wonder why you came” to “And you’ll begin to wonder why you came” This shifts enforces how he lived through it and by retelling his experience and error of growing tired of trying, he also gives advice. The first time he says “And you begin to wonder why you came” shows a tone that gives this sense of personal experience. The second time when he addresses it in the future tense portrays a more advisable tone. So that person may prevent it from happening to them, he tells them how he began to wonder why he should he keep on trying.
The last verse of the song is advice but on what not to do. “As he begins to raise his voice You lower yours and grant him one last choice” This depicts how the singer/speaker began to lose his hope on the person after having tried. “Drive until you lose the road Or break with the ones you’ve followed” He continues to explain how giving up or loss of hope can lead to misguidance and error. The last lines of the verse say, “He will do one of two things He will admit to everything Or he’ll say he’s just not the same And you’ll begin to wonder why you came” As a result his friend begins to conclusively accept his situation and tries to provides reasons so that he is justified and left alone to continue towards his own unforeseen death. The speaker/singer then continues to think about whether or not he should continue to help his friend.
Overall, his friend suffered a terrible fate and having gone through this experience the singer/speaker now recalls it to other people so that they may be able to evade this situation.
Filed under: Lyrics