Duran Duran – “Save a Prayer” – First Wave On Mondays

FIRST WAVE ON MONDAYS is back again. Our weekly look into “First Wave” music which includes New Wave, Punk, Goth, and other “Alternative Music” (before it was called “alternative”) from the late 70’s, 80’s, and early 90’s. On First Wave on Mondays you will find a “First Wave” Song, Playlist, or Album Feature on every – you guessed it – Monday. We’ll learn a bit of history about the songs, albums, bands, artists, and genre, and, of course, there will be a bit of me getting nostalgic along the way.

On this week’s return, we take a look, and listen, to Duran Duran’s 1982 Single, “Save a Prayer”.

“Save a Prayer” was Duran Duran’s sixth single, released in August of 1982. It was the third single to come off of the band’s second album, 1982’s Rio. The track became Duran Duran’s biggest hit (at the time) in the UK Singles Chart, reaching #2.

Save a Prayer DD Single First Wave on Mondays

The song was not originally issued as a single in the United States, although the music video had heavy airplay and popularity on MTV. A special US single version was finally released in January of 1985 and reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100. (from Wikipedia)

“Save a Prayer” by Duran Duran
from the album, Rio (1982)
First Wave on Mondays

“Pretty looking road,
I try to hold the rising floods,
that fill my skin.
Don’t ask me why I’ll keep my promise,
melt the ice.
And, you wanted to dance,
so I asked you to dance,
but fear is in your soul.
Some people call it a one night stand,
but we can call it paradise.”

“Save a Prayer” was written by Simon Le Bon while the band was on tour. Simon described the song’s chorus structure as being based on Gordon Lightfoot’s hit song, “If You Could Read My Mind”. The song is about a chance meeting between two people that becomes a “one-night stand”. Simon describes the lyrics of the song to be “realistic, and not romantic”. It makes sense, to me, that a song about a one-night stand was written on the road.

The verses of the song are in D minor, while the chorus is in B minor. It opens with an arpeggiated delay treated-synthesizer riff which plays in the background throughout the song. (from Wikipedia)

Save a Prayer Duran Duran First Wave on Mondays

Duran Duran was everything to me as a teenage girl. They would transcend my adolescence, as well, and stick in my musical heart for good. But, it was those teen years where I lived and breathed their music. “Save a Prayer” was never a favorite of mine. I’m not sure why because it has definitely become a favorite. I don’t know if it was due to the heavy airplay on the radio (KROQ) and TV (MTV, Video One, MV3), or because there was something about the song that I couldn’t quite connect to. Other songs, though obscure and surreal in many ways lyrically, I related to in either the way the song made me feel or in the ways I took the lyrics to mean to me.

“Save a Prayer”, though, is more deliberate lyrically. The song definitely tells a story about a short-lived encounter with a lover. There is definitely the road in the song, too. Feelings of travel and temporary-ness and transit. To me, I think these feelings and emotions were too adult for me to fully grasp at the time. But, as I’ve grown-up I hear the song and understand the complexities going on within it. The loneliness, the passion, the desire to have something, albeit temporary, to hang on to, and the way we see things in our life, the way we “write” them, or justify them, in the present, and in retrospect.

“Save a Prayer” (live) by Duran Duran

What do you think of Duran Duran’s “Save a Prayer”? Is it a favorite? What does the song mean to you?

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