A tale of two songs: “How to Save a Life” and “Oh My Dear”

*Obligatory “Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. My bad; I have a life now. Yes, I think it’s weird, too.” statement*

I’m not sure how many people are going to know these two bands or songs, so I’ll post the videos for them just in case. I’ll be analyzing Tenth Avenue North’s “Oh My Dear”…



…and The Fray’s “How to Save a Life.”


I happen to have both songs on my Spotify list, and the other day, they came up one after the other. I realized how similar they were to each other. Or rather, that they were about the same situation, but taken in opposite directions with different results.

Both songs start out with the protagonist of the song having a friend who has some secret sin and needs to repent. But the protagonist of each song deals with confronting this person in completely different ways.

First, I’ll look at The Fray’s song. The song begins by the protagonist inviting the friend to talk about his issues. It’s obvious from the beginning of the song that neither party wants to be there. The protagonist feels an obligation to confront his friend. He’s not doing it out of love.

As the song continues, the protagonist starts to wonder why he came. The friend isn’t listening and even worse, the protagonist isn’t listening.

The protagonist tries to “slip past” his friend’s defenses, but he isn’t interesting in listening to any reasons that he may have for doing what he did. All the protagonist seems interested in is telling his friend again what’s he’s been doing wrong. Which he apparently already knows.

The song ends with the protagonist telling his friend that he can either “drive until you lose the road” or ditch all of his other friends (personally, neither of those sound like good alternatives to me). As the chorus plays one more time, the protagonist wonders where he went wrong and realizes that maybe he might have kept his friend if he had taken the time to listen.

The song is beautiful and sad and paints a completely different picture from the one in “Oh My Dear.” Even with just the names of the songs, you can start to understand what makes these two songs so different, despite similar subjects.

The first song refers to the friend as “a life.” The term is cold and clinical, which is basically the approach that the protagonist takes to dealing with his friend’s secret sin. But in the second song, the friend is called “my dear.” This person is someone special to the protagonist, and he talks about loving his friend no matter what. This, I think, is what makes the difference in the scenario that follows.

From the beginning, the protagonist is more patient and caring with his friend. Instead of calling up the friend to confront her, he calls up just to talk. In this case, it’s the approachability of the protagonist that makes the friend want to reveal her secrets.

The protagonist of “Oh My Dear” goes to extraordinary lengths, walking for miles in the snow to personally talk to his distraught friend. And when he gets there, he doesn’t try to run down the list of things the friend is doing wrong. He listens, patiently.

He holds his friend as she shakes and reassures her that nothing she has done will stop him from still loving her. He tells her that he isn’t going anywhere until she gets everything off her chest.

And she does. She tells him the secrets that have been eating her up inside, and instead of offering judgment, he offers compassion. He stays up with her all night, because he knows that that’s how you save a friend’s life.

It’s a lesson that the protagonist of the first song learned too late (and if you read between the lines of the music video, tragically too late).

I love these two songs because I think we can learn a lot from both of them. The truth is that life can be messy. Sometimes, patiently waiting won’t be how you save a life. Sometimes, people need tough love.

But more often than not, I think, learning to listen is the better option. In our loud, judgmental culture, offering to quietly listen might just be what a friend needs to be able to confront what they already know they’re doing wrong.


Songs I’m obsessed with right now

I’ve been listening to a lot of music lately. Partly because I just went on a long car trip and I needed it to stay awake. I usually have some song stuck in my head, but right now, I feel like I’m stuffed full.

Which means now you get to hear what I’m thinking.

1. The DreamWorks Bible movie soundtracks

When I was a kid (okay, I was two), DreamWorks struck gold with The Prince of Egypt, which is, in my opinion, the best Moses movie ever made (yes, better than The Ten Commandments). It also has probably the most majestic sounding soundtrack of any animated movie ever. I posted my favorite below. Just try to listen to that without getting chills. Hans Zimmer is a genius. You really should just listen to the whole sound track.

The second movie that DreamWorks made in the same vein was Joseph: King of Dreams. The songs aren’t probably as incredible as the ones in Prince of Egypt, but then Zimmer didn’t do this one. Still, the songs are pretty good, especially since it was the composer, Danny Pelfrey’s, first musical score. Better than I was the song that popped up on my Spotify list that prompted this nostalgic musical journey.

2. Heathens by Twenty One Pilots

I heard this on the radio at some point recently and it’s been stuck in my head. This song is ungodly catchy. The beginning is catchy. The chorus is painfully catchy. The ending is catchy. Worse, it’s still a popular song, so I can’t make it more than a few days before I hear someone else singing it and getting it stuck in my head again.

The last song that was stuck in my head this thoroughly was How Many Kings by Downhere, and that was stuck in my head for literally months.

3 & 4. Money and Fame and Happiness by Needtobreathe

These two kept popping up on the radio, so I added them to my Spotify list. Which was a mistake. Now, they are never out of my head. Money and Fame, in particular is just SO catchy. I don’t even know the whole song, just the chorus. Happiness is the opposite. I know the whole thing, and it’s still stuck in my head.

Most of the time, when I get something stuck in my head, it’s because I don’t know all the words and my brain is trying to figure it out. Obviously, that’s not the case with the DreamWorks soundtracks. For those, I think my brain is just longing for something awe-inspiring and majestic. But maybe I’ll be lucky enough to get at least Heathens and Money and Fame out of my head sometime soon.

I hope so. It’s getting crowded in here.

Little Engine Tag

I’ve been tagged by one of my oldest blog friends, Matt, from The Little Engine that Couldn’t to do his new tag. I’m trying to blog more, so why not?

Like any good tag, there are rules:

  • Each answer you give to a question has to be more than two sentences long. Or at the very least, you have to make those two sentences meaningful.
  • There will be two bonus questions at the end, that the blogger gets to change to whatever they want to ask when they nominate someone else. The first six questions, however, are set in stone.
  • At the end you must nominate three to five other bloggers. Okay, so you don’t have to, but that would be nice if you could.

So without further ado, my answers:

Apparently we have to use this image…

1) What’s one of your biggest pet peeves?

Mouth noises. If you smack your lips while you eat or chew gum with your mouth open, understand, I will spend most of my time around you actively plotting your demise. Most of the reason that I sleep with earplugs in is so that I don’t have to listen to mouth noises from whoever my roommate is.

2) What is your favorite song at the moment?

My favorite song? Probably “Hat Trick” by Jonathan Thulin. Actually, I like all of the songs on his new album, but if I had to pick one, that one will do.

But if you want to know what’s been stuck in my head, the answer is the theme song from Animaniacs. I’ve been watching the show on Netflix, and now I can’t get the theme song out of my head. It is obnoxiously catchy.


3) Who is your favorite blogger?

Oh geez. I have no idea. I love reading Sarah Hoyt’s writing advice and political commentary. But I also enjoy Shannon Thompson‘s posts about writing and cats and stuff, so…

Basically, if your name starts with an S and you like writing, there’s a good chance I’ll like you.

4) What’s the nicest thing you’ve seen someone do recently?

Somehow, this one is harder than the other ones. There’s a lot of negativity in the world. Uh… I guess it’s nice to see how many people hold open doors on my campus. We’re all in a rush this time of the semester, but it’s nice that people take just a few seconds to help out someone who’s probably a stranger.

5) What’s something you regret doing?

Buying textbooks that I have to sell later. I prefer not buying books that I don’t want to read and that I won’t keep. Not that my bookshelf could handle anymore even if I did keep them.

6) If you could take only three items with you to a deserted island, what would they be, and why?

Depends on the island, I suppose. If we’re talking a deserted island with no people, but with a fully stocked condo on the beach with electricity and running water, then probably my laptop, its charger, and a satellite phone. I would have the best writing week ever and then call for someone to come get me.

7) What’s your favorite TV show?

Right now, I would have to say Gotham. I watched the whole thing on Netflix a few weeks ago. I haven’t seen a show that hooked me like that for a long time. I can’t wait for the next season.

8) What are you looking forward to?

SUMMER! I’ve only got like two weeks left in the school year, and then I’m free. For 9 days, and then I go to camp. I’ve been wanting to be a camp counselor for a long time, and this year, I finally found someone who will hire me.

My nominations:

  1. Shannon from shannonathompson.com because I like her writing and she’s fun.
  2. Austin from Return of the Modern Philosopher because I think he’d like the train.
  3. Peg from Peg-o-Leg’s Rambling because she’s hilarious.

There you go. Now you know more about me. Hopefully that’s a good thing.


Have you read my short story yet? What? No? Well go read it!

It’s FREE for those with Kindle Unlimited and only $0.99 for everyone else. Click here to buy it.

The Lifeguard Cover