Certain Songs #428: The English Beat – “Save it For Later”

Beat Save it For Later Album: Special Beat Service
Year: 1982

Saving the best Beat song for last. And not just the best Beat song, but one of the very very very greatest songs of the 1980s, and a song that feels like a miracle every single time it comes on.

It’s so simple. It’s so complex. It’s so straightforward. It’s so transcendent. It’s pretty much everything a great pop song should be wrapped up into a single package. Riffs, harmonies, hooks, beats, words. It’s all there.

The beautiful thing about “Save it For Later” is that there are surprises around every single corner. The little horn riffs that come out of nowhere. The extra percussion that underscores the foresquare beat. Ranking Roger’s harmony vocals. The repetition of “now now now now now!”

And the chorus, which isn’t angry or profound or political or anything but words that heard once, you’ll be singing for the rest of your life:

Sooner or later
Your legs give way, you hit the ground
Save it for later
Don’t run away and let me down

Sooner or later
You’ll hit the deck you’ll get found out
Save it for later
Don’t runaway and let me down
You let me down

Speaking of that chorus: the swell of strings that accompany the second chorus are the sound of a perfect sunrise, where the world is all colors at once and everything seems possible for just that tiny moment. And the second, harmonized “Save it for later” in every chorus seems to float over everything, lighter than even the sun.

And of course, during the coda while Dave Wakeling is so moved that he’s beyond words, here comes Ranking Roger, so quietly at first, you really have to listen for it, and I’m not even sure they actually exist, but I hear them.

Runaway
Runaway
Runaway
Runaway

Then, louder, but never so loud it overshadows the music, Wakeling joins in:

Runaway
Runaway
Runaway
Runaway
Runaway
Runaway
Runaway
Runaway
And let me down

Because those harmonized “runaways” feel like they exist in between universes, every time you hear them, you wonder if they actually truly existed. You have to go back and listen to the song again, just to verify what you actually heard.

If anybody has ever written a better song than “Save It For Later,” I haven’t heard it.

Also love the video, where the power of “Save it For Later” compels a club full of snooty bookworms to dance! Because how could you watch the impeccably-dressed Ranking Roger dancing around with his tambourine and not wanna join in?

Official Video for “Save It For Later”


“Save It For Later” performed live at the US Festival, 1982

Comments are closed.