"What Sarah Said" as written by Benjamin Gibbard and Nicholas Harmer....
And it came to me then
That every plan
Is a tiny prayer to father time

As I stared at my shoes
In the ICU
That reeked of piss and 409

And I rationed my breaths
As I said to myself
That I'd already taken too much today

As each descending peak
On the LCD
Took you a little farther away from me
Away from me

Amongst the vending machines
And year old magazines
In a place where we only say goodbye

It sung like a violent wind
That our memories depend
On a faulty camera in our minds

And I knew that you were truth
I would rather loose
Than to have never lain beside at all

And I looked around
At all the eyes on the ground
As the TV entertained itself

Cause there's no comfort in the waiting room
Just nervous paces bracing for bad news
And then the nurse comes round
And everyone lifts their head
But I'm thinking of what Sarah said

That love is watching someone die

So who's gonna watch you die


Lyrics submitted by bornalion, edited by dukus

"What Sarah Said" as written by Benjamin Gibbard, Nicholas Harmer

Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing

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What Sarah Said song meanings
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309 Comments

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  • +10
    General Commentthis song is going to have a lot of comments one day. i promise. the message is strong. people will love this. i love this. it's so emo(tional). this album is good. a lot more diverse.
    ThursdaysWaitingon August 06, 2005   Link
  • +8
    General CommentWas revisting this album recently, and prior to having bought it in '05, I'd never really dealt with loss before as an adult. Since then, well, a lot has happened, including a scene recounted in the song.

    I have no interpretation to offer, since I think the song is experiential and thus, too, are my comments. A line that guts me every time, in addition to the ones you've all noted, is that "it stung like a violent wind that our memories depend on a faulty camera in our minds..."

    The song is so delicately balanced as a composition, as melody and prosity; the phrasing of the piano creates an almost nauseating urgency hidden by its beauty and then you are destroyed fully by the lyrics - the expression of the crushing reality and numbing sorrow already present, plus the fact that our memories fade and change. In effect, he acknowledges that as horrible as the scene before him is, the implications are foreever: because of our memories, we will be losing your loved ones until our own end. It's like an existential piling on.

    Then of course there's his subtle question about the breadth and richness of our own lives: who will be there to smell the piss and 409 for us?

    Brilliant.
    OnTheWaterfronton April 17, 2012   Link
  • +6
    General CommentAs a 21 year old male I can safely say that I don't usually cry, but when I do it is because of this song. I haven't read through all of the comments so my interpretation might not be anything new. It is also partially influenced by the music video, which is incredible.

    I read that Sarah was the wife of one of Ben's friends and one night the couple was taking a walk when Sarah burst into tears after coming to the realization that "love is watching someone die"

    The song is very clearly about sitting in the ICU as a loved one is passing. I think due to the line "I would rather lose than to have never lain beside at all" it is safe to assume that the context of the song is a spouse or significant other (unless you have "lain beside" all of your loved ones...). I also think though that part of the beauty of the song is its ability to apply to everyone's individual experiences waiting in a hospital for any friend or loved one.

    The line "love is watching someone die" hit me like a truck the first time I heard it, and it is something that will stick with me forever. It may be one of the most amazing lines ever written down on paper. I think it means that when you love someone you are signing up to watch them die, and you are doing it every day as we are all technically dieing. Even though parting with them will be a very painful experience, you are accepting it for the happiness of being with them now.

    I think that the second most powerful line in the song is the line immediately after. "so who's going to watch you die?" The character in the song is in the ICU just sitting and remembering that when he fell in love with this person, he knew that someday they would die. He is waiting for the bad news that the love of his life is gone. But now he is alone, so who is going to watch him die? Or will he die empty and alone? This interpretation is influenced by the video where a guy is basically sitting on a bed and smoking cigarettes alone in the aftermath of his loved one's passing. At this part of the song he just starts shaking violently with his head in his hands.
    loveiswatchingsomeonedieon September 09, 2011   Link
  • +4
    General Commenti cry everytime i listen to this song.

    absolutly a brillient song.

    the beginning catches you off guard...with the "and it came to me then" of course your like thinking "what what?" then the next line makes you think like hell..."wow..he's right"

    the next two lines "as i stared at my shoes in the ICU
    that reeked of piss and 409" give you a setting and you get to invision this place.

    the next lines "and i rationed my breaths as i said to myself that i'd already taken too much today" that is like saying..."i need to think of the people who dont get that breath...i dont need it...give it to them..."

    the next line...self explanitory.

    more imagry...

    then...saying...memories...wow...cherish this life while it lasts and just because loving=losing doesnt mean you shouldnt love at all...loving=living too.

    more amazing imagry...

    then the best lines (in my opinion): "then the nurse comes round and everyone lifts their head
    but i'm thinking of what sarah said,
    that love is watching someone die"

    after that line there is a piano solo...that just leaves you for a second. my life just like pauses and that thought...love is watching someone die...wow...i mean that is amazing how it makes me feel. ..
    my first impression was about the nurse. everyone in the waiting room has to wait, but the nurse has to watch...that was the person who shows love! and my second impression was the people in the waiting room bracing for the news...they are the ones who love...then i realized both is true for this song...

    it is hard to order my thoughts into words...i think this is an undescribibly amazing song...that leaves me with thought and wonder and tears...
    jinxx55on August 31, 2005   Link
  • +3
    My InterpretationI came across this song completely by chance one night. I had only heard DCFC's 'The New Year' before so I wasn't really a big listener. However, one of my closest friends was telling me about her depression and how she'd been cutting and such, I got so worried about her and then I somehow came across this song. My friends name is Sarah.

    The way I interpreted it is through the line, "that love is watching someone die", and that I (the only person to know about her depression) was in fact watching her slowly waste away and die. This song is now the most played on my iPod and Death Cab are my favourite band. I have fallen in love with Bens lyrics just like I am now in love with Sarah. I showed her this song, and it is now our song. It means so much to both of us. And we eventually realised, that at 3:10, the exact middle of the song, Ben sings, "love". We share that love through this song and it always brings me peace of mind.


    I hope everyone finds this song as meaningful as I do.
    - Justin
    jriley11on June 06, 2011   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI think I just got the last few lines of the song. I used to think that by saying "love is watching someone die" it was saying that love is the subject, watching a death. But really, it's saying that watching someone die is the epitome of love. Thus, by asking "who's gonna watch you die?" it's really asking who loves you.
    reegson June 07, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis is one of the prettiest songs on the CD, so I agree with TW in that this song will draw a lot of comments.

    Good lyrics.
    you fail meon August 06, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General Commentto whyitsjustme: ThursdaysWaiting said the song is emo (and it is), not the band. before calling someone an idiot, make sure you're not making yourself one in the process.
    spumpkinscmon August 08, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General Commentspencemj, im pretty sure it means that real love, no matter who, is being able to stay by that person when they are dying to the end..and watching their final breaths...lots of people can't handle death well because it hurts too much, so they avoid and distance themselves from the dying one. but this is cowardly, and love is being able to go through that for that person, being totally unselfish
    Spunkleon August 16, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis is by far... the mos inspirational song I've ever heard.

    I've done several "Songfics" based on Death Cab's songs, my favorite being one based off of "I Will Follow You Into the Dark".

    But I'm sure that once I finally get around to it, I will definitely enjoy writing one based off of this.

    I've done an incredible amount of research to the meaning of this song, and basically, in summary, is that a woman named Sarah (she was the wife of Gibbard's friend, and what she says actually kinda based the whole album," was walking with her husband, when she suddenly began crying, going on painfully how one of them would have to watch the other die -'who's going to watch you die?'-.
    Through this song, he expresses the pain in an ICU about losing a loved one, but how if you truly love someone, the love will be strong enough to last until their gone for good. The song is smooth and jerks sensitive strings in my heart, but it's just as flawlessly done as falling in love is itself.

    BUT... I've found there is more... much more.

    This website explains it all, really. I'm horrible at this, and I suggest all DCFC or What Sarah Said fans go here -

    arts.pallimed.org/2008/04/…

    It totally changed the way I see/saw it.

    ;)
    Tealzon April 20, 2009   Link

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