EP - Zach Bryan - Boys Of Faith
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‘Sarah's Place’ by Zach Bryan & Noah Kahan - Lyrics & Meaning

September 22, 2023 5:46 pm GMT
Last Edited December 19, 2023 7:16 pm GMT

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Zach Bryan & Noah Kahan - ‘Sarah's Place’

Label: Belting Bronco Records / Warner Records

Release Date: 22nd September 2023

EP: Boys Of Faith

Producer: Zach Bryan

Songwriter: Zach Bryan

The Background:

Appearing on Zach Bryan's surprise 2023 EP, Boys Of Faith, the Noah Kahan-assisted ‘Sarah's Place’ serves as one of the many highlights on the folk-leaning, five-song project.

‘Sarah's Place’ was first teased in mid-September, when Zach Bryan shared a tantalising video clip of Noah Kahan singing a snippet of the track across his socials.

About a month prior, Noah had joined Zach on-stage at Hinterland Music Festival to perform the latter's raucous closing number, ‘Revival’. It's likely this festival was the first time Zach Bryan met both Noah Kahan and Bon Iver, who appears on the Boys Of Faith title-track, and who was also performing across the Hinterland weekend.

Noah Kahan had shared an homage to Zach Bryan on his TikTok in July 2022, with the Vermont crooner underlining how big a fan he is of Zach's in the caption, describing him as a ‘legend’.

‘Sarah's Place’ is an endearing but bittersweet ode to a long-gone lover, with the two genre-blending mavericks trading verses as they express their sadness at their ex's absence, while still championing their decision to move on and carve out a better path for themselves.

The Sound:

Similarly to his Bon Iver duet, ‘Sarah's Place’ feels like a perfect middle-ground between the distinctive styles favoured by Zach Bryan and Noah Kahan. The uptempo, folk-driven guitar riff and energising beat are taken straight from the DNA of Noah's 2023 project, Stick Season (We'll All Be Here Forever), with the driving fluidity of the hook reminiscent of his blockbuster Post Malone collaboration, ‘Dial Drunk’.

Even so, Zach Bryan's raw, rough-around-the-edges vocal delivery and his unmistakably poetic, intimate lyricism ensure ‘Sarah's Place’ still has the Oklahoma native's fingerprints all over it.

After opening with a sparse musing on life out on the road accompanied by a gentle acoustic guitar, ‘Sarah's Place’ bursts into life as Noah Kahan takes the reins for the second verse.

The intentionally loose composition, with the easygoing acoustic strum and drum rhythm fusing joyfully with the occasional twang of an additional guitar, produces the feel of a 70s Beatles-like track.

The Meaning:

“Road dogs are built for sleepin' in
I've been up since 4am
At your worst, you're better than my better days
There ain't been no sun in LA
Since you moved out of Sarah's place”

Zach opens ‘Sarah's Place’ with a piece of juxtaposition, outlining how touring musicians are supposed to be good at sleeping in, yet he's been awake since the early hours of the morning. This creates a sense of displacement and discomfort from the get-go.

The ‘I Remember Everything’ songsmith confides in the listener that even at her worst, his lover is “better than my better days”, before explaining that he cannot enjoy Los Angeles in the way he used to when his ex was still living at ’Sarah's Place’.

Although it's underpinned by a persistent melancholy at the person's absence, the warm-hearted track is coloured by a sweet, rose-tinted acceptance at the lover's need to move on.

“I love your mother's stories 'bout you as a kid
I heard you scored a job in the East Village
While working for some folks who don't know your name
Well, ain't you gonna miss all of them wasted days?
We'd sit around, drinkin' out at Sarah's place”

It's never explicitly clarified who Sarah is, but from Noah Kahan's second verse, it's implied she's the mother of the protagonist's ex. He charmingly recalls hearing her mother regaling him with tales of what his former partner was like as a child, before sharing that his old flame is now working for a big company in the ‘East Village’.

There is an East Village Arts District in Long Beach, California, which initially appears to be the most likely destination Noah is referring to, given the fact that ’Sarah's Place’ is set in LA.

However, as the song progresses it seems he's instead singing about East Village in Manhatten, which would certainly exacerbate the despair of her leaving, if she was taking a job on the other side of the country. This would align with the final two lines, where Zach sells his guitar in order to fly to his distant lover (“Plane tickets have gotten awfully expensive / But I got mine for the price of a Gibson”).

Zach Bryan penned ‘Sarah's Place’, but some listeners might take the ‘East Village’ lyric as a subtle nod to Noah Kahan's much-loved 2022 track, ‘The View Between Villages’, which also touches on the way certain deep-seated emotions resurface when returning to familiar locations - such as ’Sarah's Place’.

“Don't come back lover, I'm proud you're under the skyline
We always knew you were the better half of our good times
Those backyard lights don't shine as bright without your face
Out at Sarah's Place”

The hook captures the conflicting feelings that pervade ‘Sarah's Place’. Zach and Noah convey their pride at how the subject of the song is creating a life for herself in New York, before reiterating how Los Angeles has lost some of its gleam since her departure.

“And you called to talk just last week
I'm still fallin' apart like I'll always be
And your picnic chair is still sittin' there in the yard
And I had to sell my old guitar”

The protagonist and the ex still speak from time to time over the phone, but judging by the subsequent lyric, this only accentuates the intensity with which he misses her.

The lover's belongings, such as the picnic chair in the backyard, reverberate around ‘Sarah's Place’ like haunting echoes of her presence, reminding the protagonist of his loss.

Here we get the foreshadowing, however, of his decision to buy a plane ticket to be reunited with his ex, as Zach Bryan reveals he's “had to sell my old guitar”.

“You'll always be a piece of mine, a piece of mine
We drove that road we know at least a million times
I'm so damn tired of seeing that empty drive
Out at Sarah's Place”

This first line of this verse is intentionally delivered in a way that sounds like “peace of mind”, with the underlying suggestion being that this person helps the protagonist to ease their anxieties.

Zach then lets his frustration bubble over, as he complains about the fact that her car is no longer parked outside ‘Sarah's Place’, with the ‘empty drive’ no doubt representing the hollowness of the home, now that his previous flame is not there to give it life.

Thankfully, ‘Sarah's Place’ ends of a note of optimism that mirrors the jubilance that Zach Bryan and Noah Kahan inject throughout the track, as we learn the two ex-lovers will be together once again.

It's heartwarming that the main character continually tells his partner how proud he is of her for chasing her dreams, despite the listener being made aware of just how much it hurts him to be apart from her. Even in the final moments of the song, he chooses to travel to her, rather than expecting her to return to him.

What has Zach Bryan said about ‘Sarah's Place’?

Zach Bryan is yet to comment too extensively on ‘Sarah's Place’, but in a virtually identical message to the one written for Bon Iver on Twitter, the ‘Something in the Orange’ hitmaker emphasised how much he cherishes his new friendship with Noah, “Come back soon Noah Kahan - you have a friend for life”.

Earlier in September, Zach Bryan paid tribute to Noah Kahan on his Instagram Stories as “the hardest working man in music”, as well as sharing an adorable photo of Noah and Zach's beloved chocolate Labrador, Jack Daniels, with the caption, “Jack, huge Noah guy”.

For the full lyrics to Zach Bryan and Noah Kahan's ‘Sarah's Place’, see below:

“Road dogs are built for sleepin' in
I've been up since 4am
At your worst, you're better than my better days
There ain't been no sun in LA
Since you moved out of Sarah's place

I love your mother's stories 'bout you as a kid
I heard you scored a job in the East Village
While working for some folks who don't know your name
Well, ain't you gonna miss all of them wasted days?
We'd sit around, drinkin' out at Sarah's place

Don't come back lover, I'm proud you're under the skyline
We always knew you were the better half of our good times
Those backyard lights don't shine as bright without your face
Out at Sarah's Place

And you called to talk just last week
I'm still fallin' apart like I'll always be
And your picnic chair is still sittin' there in the yard
And I had to sell my old guitar

But don't come back lover, I'm proud you're under the skyline
We always knew you were the better half of our good times
Those backyard lights don't shine as bright without your face
Out at Sarah's Place

You'll always be a piece of mine, a piece of mine
We drove that road we know at least a million times
I'm so damn tired of seeing that empty drive
Out at Sarah's Place

Don't come back lover, I'm proud you're under the skyline
We always knew you were the better half of our good times
Those backyard lights don't shine as bright without your face
Out at Sarah's Place

Oh, hey
Mm, mm

Plane tickets have gotten awfully expensive
But I got mine for the price of a Gibson”

For more on Zach Bryan, see below:

Written by Maxim Mower
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