December 2, 2007

Sooner or later your legs give way, you hit the ground

The original “Save It For Later” (by whom we call The English Beat over in these here parts, but were truly just called “The Beat”) hit the charts in 1982 and is part of the musical periphery of my childhood. As many times as I’ve heard it, it still strikes me from those opening notes as such a fantastic song.

Save It For Later – The (English) Beat

The Beat played Denver a few weeks ago, and while I was not in attendance, I did get updates from a friend who is a fellow Pearl Jam fan and knows that PJ does a wistful, spontaneous-feeling cover version of this song; I love the way it builds from a tentative start to a rocking, thrumming end. Ed clearly took his cues here from his hero, his idol, Pete Townshend and his version of the same song in Brixton in 1985.

A few years later, Townshend was on stage at a charity gig in Brixton, and performed “Save it For Later,” a recent hit from the Beat. Townshend sheared the song down to its skeleton, hanging the lyric on one repeated guitar figure. Singing in a harrowed but calm voice, Townshend lingers on the lyric’s odd phrases . . . infusing the line “your legs give way/you hit the ground” with weary resignation, and taking the lyric’s silly sex joke and turning it into a vulnerable plea.

Save It For Later (live in Chicago 5/17/06) – Pearl Jam
Save It For Later (live in Brixton) – Pete Townshend

I also really dig the Harvey Danger cover that plays over the ending credits of the 1999 movie 200 Cigarettes . . . just listen to that rejuvenated beat, all cleaned up and sharpened and rad. And instead of bringing the string section in towards the end as the original does, it wends its way throughout:

Save It For Later – Harvey Danger


  • Hey Heather…

    I’ve been a fan of the Beat for ages…and am old enough to have seen them in their earliest incarnations here in Boston at a now-defunct club called “The Channel”…I’d also caught them as General Public more than once…Just a great band to see live and give a listen to Dave Wakeling singing “She’s Having A Baby” from the movie soundtrack of same. I’ve also gotten a message or two from Ranking Roger at my myspace page…just a great band and well worth your time…

    David M.

    Murgs — December 3, 2007 @ 8:44 am

  • it may be of interest that the Beat now have taken to tag Betterman onto the end of the Save It For Later when they play it nowadays just as PJ tagged it onto the end of Betterman

    Anonymous — December 3, 2007 @ 8:57 am

  • Great post! That song still kills and it’s good to know Eddie Vedder is a fan. I quickly grew to love the English Beat after listening to their debut album maybe 3 or 4 years ago…such a great band and that album is classic.

    Nice job of ressurecting Harver Danger’s cover!

    InTransit — December 3, 2007 @ 9:33 am

  • I’m not that old yet, so I’m glad to finally here the original to a song – a tag, really, in PJ’s shows – I hoped PJ would play when I saw them live. Never had the luck, but this almost makes up for that :)

    stefan — December 3, 2007 @ 10:48 am

  • I love this song…one of my all time favs.Thanks for the cool post.
    BTW, School of Fish did a great cover of “save it for later”. It was on a four track single, for a song of theirs called, “Take me Anywhere”. it’s a revved up version, fantastic stuff.
    if you want a copy, let me know and I will send it your way

    andy — December 3, 2007 @ 1:23 pm

  • Hi Heather:

    The Harvey Danger version of this song is fantastic. What always amazes me about this song is just when you think all the three chord songs in the world have been written here comes another . . .Save it For Later. And mostly because of its apparent simplicity it is capable of being performed in such different and unique styles. Indeed, the juxtaposition of the Townshend version vs. Harvey Danger is really amazing. Anyway, thanks again for featuring the song as well as for your unbelievably entertaining blog!!

    Anonymous — December 4, 2007 @ 1:06 pm

  • Heya Heather,

    Let’s get crackin on that Betterman and Save It For Later mashup, shall we?

    Anonymous — December 5, 2007 @ 12:57 am

  • I always loved the sound of “Save It For Later” by The (English) Beat. Then I heard the Townsend version and, as happens too often, I was amazed and then thrilled at how the lyrics had a lot to add as well.

    I heard a “folk” singer doing the song on the streets of Boston one day. Got even a cheapskate like me to toss her a five!

    Thanks for the great blog,


    Bruce/Ace — December 5, 2007 @ 11:10 am

  • love yer blog, makes me happy and smile. great selections of tunes, you’re the best.

    Lord Byron — December 5, 2007 @ 9:37 pm

  • Hi Heather,
    Thanks to your great blog post about the english beat and song -save it for later. I was wondering if you and your readers knew that the song is about heroin use and addiction. How save it for later refers to kicking off heroin. like how it says two dozen other dirty lovers, refers to a guy having to pimp himself out to get money for the drug. how he must be a sucker for it”the drug”. about how you feel like crying when your out of the drug, and how you want someones hand to hold while you come to a decesion on whether to kick off the drug or to get more. how sooner or later you have to give up chasing the drug and doing the things it takes to get the drug. your legs give way, you hit the ground. how you hit the deck, you get found out. since many users are closet users, doing the things it takes to get money for the drug, and doing the drug without friends or family knowing that your using. so sooner or later you get found out. but how you know it is enevitable – you want to save it for later. how you dont want people who help you get the drug or sell you the drug, you dont want them to run away and let you down. also the drug alters your mood and your actions, thus explaining the the lyric, “sometimes i dont know how to act around you alot”. Im not implying that the beat members where heroin addicts but it seems quite clear what this song is about. anyone care to comment???

    JustBecause — January 25, 2008 @ 8:33 pm

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

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