Save a Prayer by Duran Duran: 35 Years Later

So … I heard the 1982 Duran Duran tune, Save a Prayer, a couple of weeks ago while driving home from a business dinner. I hadn’t heard the song in years and it took me back to hot-Bible-belt-college nights when I felt wild and free, yet oddly trapped in a twisted mess of everything I thought I knew and all the things I didn’t know I didn’t know.

As I drove home, a fantastic restaurant and great conversation with highly educated, brilliant people behind me, I realized that I was smack in the middle of my morning after.

I thought about what the song meant to me back in the 80’s:

It held a bittersweet promise, one I desperately hoped was real. All I wanted was to somehow find my best self, to fit into skin that seemed to hang loosely around me, making everything difficult. I knew I needed prayers. I wanted prayers. I wanted the love of someone special. In so many ways, I was off track, or so it seemed.

Yet the dreamer in me said to the world, to the person who wanted to dance, and to myself as I stood against the wall, staring at that flickering light:

Don’t say a prayer for me now. Save it ’till the morning after … I grow up. Don’t waste it tonight, because maybe tomorrow you’ll see what I become. All this crazy stuff I do, I feel, I see, I gamble on, I fail at, and try to understand will make sense in the morning. You’ll see me finally fitting into my skin and realize that I didn’t need those prayers at all. I just needed to evolve.

When I got home, I did some quick research on the meaning of the song. There are quite a few interpretations; however, most people seem convinced that it’s about a one night stand with a stranger.

“… two lonely strangers meet up in presumably a foreign place (this I figured from the exotic location in the video) and hook up for one night with no intention to take it any further than that.”

And so on and so forth …

I always thought the song was about two people who just couldn’t quite get it together. The idea that the one wanting to dance would say a prayer for the vocalist implies a bond, some sort of connection and shared emotion. And if she’s a stranger, how does he know where she lives? The vocalist believes that even if they only share one more night, it will be paradise and that’s enough. Yet it’s not really enough, is it? They just don’t have a clue as to why or how to make it so. The timing is off; they need to move on. It’s a painful place to be as Rhiana so eloquently shared with us, not once but twice.

This is the scenario I’ve always recognized in Duran Duran’s tune. It’s a version of love that often catches fire in those of us who somehow missed the real deal early on. When we finally feel it, see it, touch it, and want to give it, flood gates open, dams break, the world shifts and nothing makes sense. It’s both scary and beautiful. Addictive. It’s an Irma storm that can’t be contained and usually terrifies the hell out of all involved.

Who can feel the full force of that and survive? It often ends up tragic on some level. But we can emerge with the ability to bond in a more healthy way. In time, I learned that there are many other variations of love, just as real and true, that come with less pain.

So why should you care? Because there’s always hope. I needed hope and that’s part of my story, part of my art and everything I’m about, part of what fills my skin now and drives me forward. There’s always tomorrow.

I found mine.

The Sun Will Come Up, 2016

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