The Fray’s “Heartbeat” Lyrics Meaning
On “Heartbeat”, the Speaker embarks on a journey along with his listeners in what seems to be a war zone. This is evident in the first verse where he mentions they have to keep running until they encounter hope.
The setting is most likely Rwanda, where majority Hutu extremists murdered hundreds of thousands of Tutsis. The writer’s main message is that if you have the ability to love, then you need to love everyone irrespective of their tribe, race, religion or status. He continues to sing from the perspective of a woman he meets and how her heart is beating to signify the never-dying hope that there will be relief in the country soon.
Inspiration behind “Heartbeat”
In writing this track, The Fray took inspiration from a trip to Rwanda. Isaac Slade recalls that the subject of the song was derived from a moment when they stood in a circle and he felt the heartbeat of a refugee woman as they held hands.
“Heartbeat” was written by Isaac Slade alongside Joe King. The Fray released it on October 11, 2011 as the first single off their album titled Scars & Stories.
The Rwanda Genocide of 1994
The genocide was between the country’s two major ethnic groups, i.e., the Tutsis and Hutus. It began after the murder of the then President of Rwanda, Juvenal Habyarimana, who was a Hutu, in 1994. It was believed that the killing was masterminded by a Tutsi group known as Rwandan Patriotic Front which was stationed in Uganda. The aim of the group was to overthrow the president and return to the country. After the death of the President was announced, the security agencies started to execute top Tutsis military and political heads. Checkpoints were mounted and all national ID cards were screened. These cards also had the ethnicity of the holder. Through this, the government forces were able to identify and kill people from Tutsi. The death toll from the war, which took place from April to July 1994, is said to be around 800,000 – 1,000,000.