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Save a Prayer

"Save a Prayer" is the sixth single by the English new wave band Duran Duran, released on 9 August 1982. The song was the third single taken from their second album Rio (1982). It became Duran Duran's biggest hit (at the time) in the UK Singles Chart, reaching number two, held out of the top spot by Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger".

It was not originally issued as a single in the United States, although the music video was very popular on MTV. A special US single version was finally released in January 1985 and reached number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Composition



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.

Critical reception



AllMusic journalist Donald A. Guarisco described the song in a retrospective review, as being "a lilting epic". He wrote: "The music maintains the stormily romantic quality of the lyric by combining meditative verses with an aching chorus that swells and ebbs in a way that perfectly captures the song's heartbreak."

Music video

The video was filmed by director Russell Mulcahy among the jungles, beaches, and temples of Sri Lanka in April 1982. Scenes were filmed atop the ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya, among the ruins of a Buddhist temple at Polonnaruwa and the island's southern coastline, with Simon Le Bon appearing in Speedos.

The shoot was a difficult but memorable experience for the band. Simon Le Bon and Roger and John Taylor went ahead to the location while Andy Taylor and Nick Rhodes were in London finishing mixes for the Rio album and B sides. They had almost no time after that was done to change clothes before catching their flight, and Rhodes wore the same leather jacket and trousers he had been wearing against the London chill.

When they arrived in Colombo, it was very hot, and Rhodes was uncomfortable in his clothing. Taylor reassured him they would be in their hotel soon and could relax. The driver who met them in a flatbed truck informed them it would be several hours' driving time to Kandy in the centre of the country, where the band were lodged. Along the way they were struck by the poverty they witnessed.

During the filming of the scene where the band members were riding elephants, a female elephant made a strange sound. One of the crew had recorded it, and found it funny enough to play back. It turned out to be the elephant's mating call, which led the elephant carrying Roger Taylor to charge downhill and attempt to mount the female. "It was funny as hell, but quite hairy for a moment," says Rhodes.

While perched on a branch over a lagoon and miming playing his guitar, an intoxicated Andy Taylor fell into the water. He accidentally swallowed some, and had to be hospitalized during the band's subsequent Australian tour due to a tropical virus he contracted at that time. The band members all initially refused to do the scene where an elephant sprays water from its trunk onto one of them due to its homoerotic overtones; they finally settled on John Taylor since he was the band's pin-up boy. He would be teased about it for years afterwards. "I didn't care," he wrote in 2012. "I loved it. It is one of my most treasured memories." Andy Taylor recalls in his memoirs that the shooting at the temple was very tense, since the country was on the verge of civil war and the temple's monks were impatiently waiting for their leader to arrive and address a large political gathering. The band members wore bare feet in deference to the temple's religious importance, frequently scorching themselves on the bare rock they were standing on. During some takes, the band members yelled "Fuck you, Russell!" instead of mouthing the lyrics. For one scene, Le Bon and Rhodes were dropped off from a helicopter that could not itself land on the monument.

A live version of the song was released in 1985. On the live version Simon Le Bon dedicates the song to Marvin Gaye, who had been fatally shot the day before the concert was recorded in April 1984. The video was taken from Duran Duran's Oakland, California concerts that were filmed for the Arena (An Absurd Notion) video.

B-sides, bonus tracks and remixes

The UK release of "Save a Prayer" was backed with a remix of "Hold Back the Rain".

Complete list of versions

# "Save a Prayer" [Single Version] – 5:24 # "Save a Prayer" [Album Version] – 5:33 # "Save a Prayer" [Video Version] – 6:03 # "Save a Prayer" [Australian Promo Edit] – 4:10 # "Save a Prayer" [Brazilian Edit] – 4:04 # "Save a Prayer" [US Single version] – 3:44 # "Save a Prayer" [Special Edited version] – 3:55 # "Save a Prayer" [Japanese Single version] – 4:00 song differences
  • Single Version: at approximately 4:35 "Save a prayer 'til the morning after" is repeated 4 times until fade out.
  • Album Version: at approximately 4:35 "Save a prayer 'til the morning after" is repeated 6 times until fade out.
  • Video Version: at approximately 4:41 "Save a prayer 'til the morning after" is repeated 12 times until fade out.
  • The synthesizer riff in the Video Version is repeated 4 times during the intro, while the synthesizer riff on the album and single version gets repeated only twice.

    Formats and track listing

    ;7": EMI. / EMI 5327 United Kingdom # "Save a Prayer" – 5:25 # "Hold Back the Rain" (Remix) – 3:58

    ;12": EMI. / 12 EMI 5327 United Kingdom # "Save a Prayer" – 5:25 # "Hold Back the Rain" (12'' Remix) – 7:05

    ;7": Capitol Records. / B 5438 United States # "Save a Prayer" – 3:45 (a.k.a. "US Single version") # "Save a Prayer" (From the Arena) – 3:35
  • Track 2 is an edited version taken from the album Arena.;12": EMI Electrola. / 1C K 060 2005036 Europe # "Save a Prayer" – 5:25 # "Save a Prayer" (From the Arena) – 6:11 # "Careless Memories" (From the Arena) – 4:06
  • Tracks 2 & 3 are taken from the album Arena.

    ;7": EMI. / EMI 1A 006-64953 The Netherlands # "Save a Prayer" – 5:32 # "Hold Back the Rain" (Remix) – 3:56

    ;CD: Part of "Singles Box Set 1981-1985" boxset # "Save A Prayer" (7" Edit) – 5:25 # "Hold Back the Rain" (Remix) – 3:56 # "Hold Back the Rain" (12'' Remix) – 7:05

    Live version



    "Save a Prayer (Live)" is the fourth track from the album Arena. Capitol Records released an edited version as B-side of the single "Save a Prayer" (US Single Version) in the United States in January 1985. The single peaked at #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week ending 16 March 1985.

    The release was accompanied by a new live video, drawn from footage shot in 1984 for the concert film Arena.

    Chart positions

    Other appearances

  • 1984 Arena
  • 1987 The Secret Policeman's Third Ball
  • 1987 Now Smash Hits
  • 1989 Decade
  • 1993 "Ordinary World" single
  • 1998 Greatest
  • 1999 Now That's What I Call Music!: 1982
  • 2001 Rio (reissue)
  • 2003 Singles Box Set 1981-1985
  • 2004 Singles Box Set 1986-1995
  • 2005 Live from London
  • 2009 Rio (2CD Collector's Edition)
  • 2009 Live at Hammersmith '82!
  • It also appears in Paramount's science-fiction film Bumblebee: The Movie (2018)

    Personnel

    Duran Duran:
  • Simon Le Bon – lead vocals, acoustic guitar (live)
  • Nick Rhodes – keyboards, synthesizers
  • John Taylor – bass guitar, backing vocals
  • Roger Taylor – drums
  • Andy Taylor – guitar, backing vocals

    Also credited:
  • Colin Thurston – producer and engineer

    Cover versions



    Eagles of Death Metal version



    A cover version of the song appears on Eagles of Death Metal's 2015 album, Zipper Down. Duran Duran and Eagles of Death Metal played the song together on TFI Friday. Following the November 2015 Paris attacks, a Facebook campaign was launched to get the cover of "Save a Prayer" to number 1 on the UK Singles Chart. Duran Duran have stated that they will donate all their royalties from the cover to charity. Eagles of Death Metal's cover ultimately peaked at number 53 for the chart dated the week after the attack.

    Weekly charts

    Other versions

    In 2014, singer-songwriter David Mead released a cover version of the song on the multi-artist compilation album Here Comes the Reign Again: The Second British Invasion.

    In December 2019, Canadian electronic duo Bob Moses released a cover version of the song on their Unplugged EP.

    Sampling

  • The song is sampled throughout on Cosmic Belt's single "Do It".