The Story of... 'Save a Prayer' by Duran Duran

31 July 2023, 13:10

Save a Prayer
Save a Prayer. Picture: EMI/Capitol/YouTube

By Tom Eames

'Save a Prayer' was one of the songs that made people stand up and take notice of Duran Duran.

This song proved they weren't just another flash-in-the-pan New Romantic band, they were here to stay, and were about to conquer the world.

But what is 'Save a Prayer' all about? Here's the backstory:

  1. Who wrote 'Save a Prayer'?

    Duran Duran in 1982
    Duran Duran in 1982. Picture: Getty

    The song is credited to Duran Duran members Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, Roger Taylor, John Taylor and Andy Taylor.

    The song was the third single taken from their second album Rio, released in 1982.

  2. What inspired the song?

    Gordon Lightfoot - "If You Could Read My Mind" (Live TV performance)

    Singer Simon Le Bon wrote the song's lyrics while the band were on tour.

    The song is about a chance meeting between two people, that soon turns into a one-off sexual encounter.

    Le Bon described the lyrics as "realistic, and not romantic."

    According to Le Bon, the song's chorus is based on Gordon Lightfoot's folk classic 'If You Could Read My Mind'.

  3. Where was the video filmed?

    Duran Duran - Save A Prayer (Official Music Video)

    The video was directed by Russell Mulcahy - who also directed classic '80s videos for Elton John, Spandau Ballet and many others.

    It was filmed in the jungles, beaches, and temples of Sri Lanka in April 1982. Scenes were also filmed on top of the ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya, at the ruins of a Buddhist temple at Polonnaruwa, and the island's southern coastline.

  4. The video was a nightmare to film for various reasons

    The video shoot was a difficult experience for the band.

    Simon Le Bon and Roger and John Taylor travelled to the location, while Andy Taylor and Nick Rhodes stayed in London finishing mixes for the Rio album.

    The latter pair had zero time after completing the record to change clothes before catching their flight, and Rhodes had to wear the same leather jacket and trousers he had been wearing in the cold of London.

    During the filming of the scene where the band were riding elephants, a female elephant made a bizarre sound. This turned out to be the elephant's mating call, leading the elephant carrying Roger Taylor to charge downhill in order to mount the female. "It was funny as hell, but quite hairy for a moment," said Rhodes later.

    While sitting on a branch over a lagoon and miming his guitar, a rather sozzled Andy Taylor fell into the water. He accidentally swallowed some of the water, and had to be hospitalized during their Australian tour due to a tropical virus.

  5. How did it perform in the charts?

    It reached number two in the UK, and was kept off the top by Survivor's 'Eye of the Tiger'.

    While it didn't initially get a release in the US, it later reached number 16 in early 1985.

  6. Who has covered it?

    [HD] Duran Duran w/ Eagle Of Death Metal - "Save A Prayer" 10/30/15 TFI Friday

    A cover version appeared on Eagles of Death Metal's 2015 album, Zipper Down.

    After the November 2015 Paris attacks - where many fans were killed at an Eagles of Death Metal concert - a Facebook campaign was launched to get their cover to number 1 on the UK Singles Chart.

    Duran Duran soon said they will donate all their royalties from the cover to charity.