Songwriting Analysis: Death Cab for Cutie “What Sarah Said”

Death Cab for Cutie: Plans

This song has a very special place in my heart — as it makes me tear up if I really hook into the emotions expressed in this song.  What makes it so emotional and moving?

  • Ambiguous chord progression that de-emphasizes the key and focuses on a series of minor chords (which is different from just having a minor key/harmony).
  • Gap-y verse melodies and more steady bridge melodies create a nice sense of contrast, where the former is about uncertainty and the latter is about building a momentum toward the climax.
  • The punch line is reserved for its designated spot: the end of the bridge, the most potent spot in any song.