Listen to This: “What Sarah Said” by Death Cab for Cutie

Behind the beautiful piano riff in “What Sarah Said” lies a brutally honest story of being in a hospital to be with a loved one who’s on the verge of death, all without being overly sentimental. From a Genius contributor:

A meditation on death, using the imagery and narrative of a loved one on his/her hospital death bed as a vehicle. The driving piano and nervous pacing builds a sense of anxiety and reverence, while Ben’s lyrics drive home the song’s central thesis – “that love is watching someone die”. Everyone is barreling towards their own exodus, and to love someone is to be there and witness what comes with that – the sorrow, the decline in health, the tough questions, and finally, the death rattle and release. You can’t commit to share each others lives without committing to witness these things.

Have a listen to it.

The final line of the song’s lyrics is a chilling philosophical question that mirrors back to the one who witnesses the death of someone. It repeats on and on.

So who’s gonna watch you die?

The song ends powerfully with a long, sustained major note that imitates the beep of an EKG machine flatlining. A major note, mind you, that signifies an optimistic outlook on death itself.


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