This is the title track of Fall Out Boy's fifth album, the American Pop-Punk band's first release since coming out of a four-year hiatus. The song features a vocal contribution from British rock legend, Elton John. "He actually sings the words 'rock and roll' in one of the lyrics, Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz told Billboard magazine, "and it blew my mind. He sings it like somebody who experienced rock 'n' roll in the '70s. It's just a different view of what it is, even how it comes off the tongue. And just for him to engage with a band like us and say, yeah, your album should be called Save Rock And Roll—it was awesome and really fulfilling."
The Save Rock and Roll artwork features a photo taken by Roger Stonehouse in Myanmar of two young boys. One of them is wearing traditional monk robes, the other is clad in jeans and a T-shirt and smoking a cigarette. "We came across the punk and monk image on the Internet and it really solidified what we were trying to get across on the record: The idea of old and new clashing. Tradition and change coming together," FOB wrote about the cover on their official site. "Obviously this is an image that means a lot to many people ... these kids represent the youth, change and irreverence that we hope our record is listen to with."
The song contains an interpolation of Fall Out Boy's own "Chicago Is So Two Years Ago
," which was first released on the band's 2003 debut album Take This to Your Grave
Pete Wentz explained to Billboard magazine what he believes rock 'n' roll needs saving from. "First and foremost, we're a tongue-in-cheek band and we've always been like that," he said. "When we were planning coming back, I envisioned reviews like, [sarcastically] 'They came back to save rock and roll.' Like, we'll just say this before you can say it.
"That being said, I've been driving my kid to school," he continued, "and just tooling around Southern California, listening to the radio, and it's all sounded really similar to me. That's why I think that, within the last two years, when we started getting Gotye and fun. and stuff like that on pop radio, it was really exciting. For me, if I hadn't ever had a chance to hear an album like [Green Day's] Dookie, I don't know where I would have ended up, heading down the path that I was on. If anything, we want to be a band like that.
"Maybe the idea is we're not trying to save big-R rock 'n' roll because big-R rock 'n' roll is a thing," he concluded. "It's, like, leather jackets. But we do want to promote little-R rock 'n' roll, which is an attitude, a perspective on life. We feel like little-R rock 'n' roll is 2 Chainz and Kanye West and Lena Dunham and people like that."
Wentz recalled to Kerrang! magazine: "I remember when there were rumblings about Fall Out Boy doing stuff, people said, 'Oh, is it going to be a Take This to Your Grave thing?' and I felt like if we were going to do it, we could honor that legacy but move forward. We couldn't write Take This to Your Grave now, but I remember thinking when we were writing this, this would be our wink to those kids, like, 'Hey.'"
The piano is Patrick Stump's demo. He told Kerrang!: "I was sure we'd redo it, but Elton was listening to it and he was like, 'Ooh, who plays piano?' and I sheepishly raised my hand. He was like, 'Wow, you should play more!'"