How to Save a Life
Writer(s): Isaac Slade, Joe King (see lyrics here)
Released: March 26, 2006
First Charted: April 15, 2006
Peak: 3 US, 11 DG, 3 RR, 115 A40, 11 AA, 31 MR, 4 UK, 4 CN, 2 AU, 10 DF (Click for codes to charts.)
Sales (in millions): 6.0 US, 1.8 UK, 8.68 world (includes US + UK)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 0.8 radio, 484.69 video, 1034.33 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
Isaac Slade and Joe King formed The Fray in 2002 in Denver, Colorado. They released their debut album, How to Save a Life in 2005. It was certified double platinum on the strength of the lead single, “Over My Head (Cable Car),” which hit the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the top-3 success of the title cut. The song “How to Save a Life” spent more than a year on the Billboard Hot 100.
Guitarist David Welsh said, “The song came about very organically. Isaac had this idea on the piano of this kind of lullaby. Then he concocted this repetitious drum beat that moved the lullaby along with Ben. The lyrics came from an experience Isaac had with a teenager he was mentoring who was struggling with drugs and addiction. It was just a very natural process, the song developed and the lyrics fitted very well.” SF
Isaac elaborated, explaining how it grew out of his experience as a mentor at a camp for troubled teens. “One of the kids I was paired up with a musician. Here I was, a protected suburbanite, and he was just 17 and had all these problems. And no one could write a manual on how to save him.” SF
The song took off in the United States after being used in an episode of the television show Grey’s Anatomy. It became an “unofficial theme” and was used in promotion for the show’s third season. One video of the song even splices scenes from the show with the band performing the song. It was also prominently featured in two episodes of Scrubs during scenes when the main character looks back on awkward moments of his life. The show as also used in One Tree Hill and Big Brother UK.
First posted 7/25/2023.