What does What Sarah Said mean?

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Death Cab For Cutie: What Sarah Said Meaning

Tagged: Death [suggest]

What Sarah Said Lyrics

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 breathes as I said to myself that I'd already taken too much today
As each descending peak...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
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    Apr 21st 2009 report

    Interpretation is in the parantheses!

    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
    (describing the circumstances upon arriving at the hospital)
    And I rationed my breaths as I said to myself
    That I'd already taken too much today
    (he is trying to calm down, realizing how the day has been too much for a person to handle)
    As each descending peak on the LCD
    Took you a little farther away from me
    Away from me
    (the lines on the LCD go down, literally meaning that she is dying)

    Amongst the vending machines and year-old magazines
    (the hospital setting consists of year old magazines to keep them occupied)
    In a place where we only say goodbye
    (many people die in hospitals, showing bens certainty that she is going to die there)
    It stung like a violent wind that our memories depend
    On a faulty camera in our minds
    (the idea that she will die pains him deepy and the only memories he will have left of her will be the ones in his mind)
    But I knew that you were a truth
    I would rather lose than to have never lain beside at all
    (he knew that she was worth being with even if she is in her deathbed. He would have rather dealt with the pain of losing her to death than to have never been with her at all)
    And I looked around at all the eyes on the ground
    As the TV entertained itself
    (everyone in the waiting room stares down at the ground because they are in their own little worlds, concerned about their loved ones. The TV is 'entertaining' itself because no one cares to watch tv while they are at the hospital)

    'Cause there's no comfort in the waiting room
    Just nervous paces bracing for bad news
    (its impossible to be comfortable in a waiting room because everyone is just waiting to hear the future or temination of their loved ones lives)
    Then the nurse comes around and everyone lifts their head
    (everyone tries to meet the eyes of the nurse in desperate attempt to find the news about their loved ones)
    But I'm thinking of what Sarah said
    That love is watching someone die
    (ultimately, love is being able to let someone go (die). being able to embrace every moment that they have with their significant other. being able to deal with the loss of a loved one because not being with them would be far worse.)

    So who's going to watch you die?
    So who's going to watch you die?
    So who's going to watch you die?
    (ben asks the listeners, who will be that person for you?)


    #2 top rated interpretation:
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    Nov 29th 2007 report

    I got this from Yahoo : It turns out that what Sarah actually said--"love is watching someone die"--is the thesis of the entire album. "The song was inspired by a friend," says Gibbard. "She was walking with her husband one day and just burst into hysterical tears because she realized that one day one of the two of them would have to watch the other die." Only a songwriter as dexterous as Gibbard could make a tear-jerking refrain about the end of love ("so who's going to watch you die?") sound as effortless and bright as falling in love in the first place.
    - mavy, SF Bay, CA


    #3 top rated interpretation:
    click a star to vote
    Aug 4th 2006 report

    I think that this song uses the hospital scenario to represent the many ways you can lose someone, whether it be a death by illness like in the song or by watching someone fade away and self destruct.
    This song holds one of my favourite lines from any song -
    'and I knew that you were a truth,
    i would rather lose,
    than to have never lain beside at all'
    -which is basically the same as saying it is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all, which is what this song is about, the pain of watching someone you love slip away.
    When sarah says "love is watching someone die", it causes ben to ask "so who's gonna watch you die?" which is basically asking more than just 'so who loves you?' , but who loves you enough to go through the pain of watching you fade away.

  4. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Mar 1st 2013 report

    In terms of a literal translation, the song is about a guy who is dying and as he's lying in the hospital he realizes that when you make plans for the future you are counting on and hoping that you'll have enough time to live, and actually do all the things you had planned. He then describes the hospital room and talks about how he has to conserve his breaths because he's already taken too many of them, and the heart rate monitor keeps ticking down and taking him farther away from his love.
    He then talks about how depressing hospitals are because all you ever do is say goodbye, and everyone's just anxious waiting to hear bad news. He also says that he is glad that he has loved and lost than not loved at all. But as he's dying he thinks of what sarah said: "Love is watching someone die." And he thinks "who's gonna watch you die?" As in who is going to be the one that loves you enough to stay and watch you die if I'm not around to do it? At the end, he's sad that he's dying because it means he won't be able to love her anymore.

  5. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jun 8th 2011 report

    when sarah said " love is watching someone die" she means love is sticking with the person when you know there days arenumbered. Through all there pain and suffering you are there. anyway i think the last part is jusst in the lyrics. Who loves you? is what he's asking.

  6. anonymous
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    Oct 8th 2009 report

    I totally understand the interpretations above and respect them. I even agree with most of them. But I also can't help but think that there is another way to read the song.

    Is it not possible that the guy could be the one losing his life?

    ...and that because he is dying, he thinks about Sarah and how he loves her and how he doesn't have regrets about loving her ("you were a truth i would rather lose than to have never lain beside at all". and then he also remembers how Sarah loved her, how she believed that "Love is watching someone die", meaning that Sarah is brave enough to love despite the pain that came with loving him or something like that. And when he remembers that, he begins to feel sad because he won't be there for her anymore, he won't be there to "watch her die" and instead SHE has to watch him die.(that is assuming he is the one dying in the context of the song). He worries for her and kind of asks "What about you Sarah? Who will be there for you?" Hence, he asks "So who's going to watch you die?"

    That can be another way of looking at it, I guess.

  7. anonymous
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    Mar 6th 2009 report

    This is a song that strikes my core. It describes how it is like to be in a hospital and watch a loved one either slowly and painfully die or sit there wringing your hands out waiting to find out whether a test has come back positive or negative.

    This song is about how the narrator describes how he has to watch his love slowly die and he understands how there is no way to stop it. He also states that it is a cruel irony that one day he won't be able to remember her face. And yet, he also states that it was better to have loved her in the first place than to have never have loved her at all.

    The last part of the song is what strikes me the most though, the phrase "who is gonna watch you die" is a terrifying yet also curious phrase. This statement conjures an image of a old man laying on his death bed barely able move and with no one to be there with him. This statement plays on the basis of human fears, the fears of being alone espacially in death. This is what scares me the most throughout the entire song the idea that I have alienated so many people to make no one care about whether I live or die.

    This song strikes me so deeply from the fact that I have watched someone slowly and painfully die from a slow spreading cancer. She had her stomache removed because of it but it had already spread to her liver by then it was to late and all we could do was provide warmth and love. Unfortunately she later died on sunday and is deeply missed everyday. This is the meaning of the song who will love you enough to stand by you and remember you even after you have left this world.

  8. Exposkidd
    click a star to vote
    Dec 11th 2008 report

    Sarah said "love is watching someone die." She didn't mean it literally. She means that loving someone is being there for them until the day they die. This song gives us a mental picture of a hospital, cold and full or fear. The hospital is like life it's full of pain, worries, and loss, but in the waiting rooms you find your loved ones, the people who are there for you everyday. "So who's going to watch you die?" Who are the people waiting for you to recover? Who loves you enough to stay? What Sarah said about "watching [who you love] die" leaves us with the unanswered question, "Who's gonna watch me die?"

  9. anonymous
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    Jul 20th 2008 report

    This song is about someone, maybe a good friend, a family member, or a lover dying in a hospital and what it's like to have to watch someone you love die.

    So, yeah, I agree with you guys.

    One thing, though, these guys are like the only people on Earth that can make a beautiful song stay beautiful with the word 'piss' in it. :) Bravo.

  10. anonymous
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    Jun 25th 2008 report

    No. The 'so who's gonna watch you die?' is a direct address to the listener, provoking feelings within themselves.

    It is not know whether he was a lover or a family member of Sarah, but regardless he loved her.

    The long refrain and the isolation of 'so who's gonna watch you die?' is just directly asking the reader.

  11. anonymous
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    May 20th 2008 report

    "who's going to watch you die" is sung simularly to "love is watching someone die", so I figured this was still Sarah talking. Sarah is worried that Ben will have no one to watch over him, just as he has watched over her.

  12. geontemt
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    Nov 23rd 2007 report

    Come on people, sarah obviously killed herself via overdose, lying in the hospital, Dr.'s know she is gonna die & it's too late to help her, she's probably his girlfriend, "who's gonna watch you die", he was always there for her & now she's killed herself. not only is he sad she's dieing, but he probably feels betrayed, and is asking her "who's gonna watch you die" as he leaves the room.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  13. anonymous
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    Oct 23rd 2007 report

    Love is watching someone die... Love is letting them go, not saving them, because it's their chance to rest. I'm not really sure I understand the end, "So who's gonna watch you die?" I think it changes the whole dynamic of the song.

  14. plasticcup_politics
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    Dec 19th 2006 report

    this song is all about what I said(my names Sarah HeHe)this song is the most beautiful, the piano is so chilling. I love the end where it all goes quiet..............
    And Im Thinking Of What Sarah Said,That Love Is Watching Someone Die.....Shh! So Whos Gonna Watch You Die?

    i love the line 'As the TV entertained itself' and 'theres no comfort in the waiting room'

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway

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