Thursday, January 7, 2010

Sarah Smile: The Story Behind the Song

"Sara Smile"
From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Story behind the Song
By Daryl Hall

Written by Daryl Hall
Recorded by Daryl Hall & John Oates

All of my songs are either autobiographical or sometimes I'll take bits of experiences or observations and put them together. This is one of the songs that is completely autobiographical.

I had a long relationship with Sara Allen and her family. I lived with Sara for 28 years. At the time I wrote this, we were living in a small apartment in New York City. We had no money, so John was living in the same apartment. This was at the beginning of my career with John (Oates) as Daryl Hall & John Oates.

I was on the road and inevitably, when I am on tour and writing, I tend to write about not wanting to be on the road. This is more than a love song. I like to call it a love postcard to Sara. It was like, "Having a shitty time on the road and missing you."

It's a very succinct and short lyric, but each phrase meant something to me -- and still does.

The song is about living our lives together, yet individually. It's about the essence of a relationship, and at the end of the day:

And when you feel you can't go on
I'll come and hold you
It's you and me forever

The song became the third single from our first album on RCA, "Daryl Hall & John Oates" in 1975. Its success came out of the blue. Our first two singles weren't terribly successful so this was our first bona fide hit.

The record got a lot of R&B airplay, beginning on a station in Ohio and spreading throughout the country. It was a big radio hit. I was most surprised when I heard it on pop radio once it crossed over, since it didn't sound like anything else being played on pop radio at the time. That attests to its permanence.

It's a heartfelt story. It's the real thing. Time has passed and I'm not with Sara anymore and I feel badly knowing that when "Sara Smile" comes on in the supermarket, Sara has to run out of the store. Songs remain but relationships change.

"Sara Smile"

Baby hair with a woman's eyes
I can feel you watching in the night
All alone with me and
we're waiting for the sunlight.
When I feel cold you warm me
When I feel I can't go on
you come and hold me,
It's you and me forever.

Sara smile,
Won't you smile a while for me, Sara?

If you feel like leaving
you know you can go
But why don't you stay until tomorrow?
And if you want to be free
you know all you have to do is say so.
When you feel cold I'll warm you
And when you feel you can't go on
I'll come and hold you
It's you and me forever.

Sara smile,
Won't you smile a while for me, Sara?
Sara smile,
Oh won't you smile a while, Sara?

Smile,
Oh won't you smile a while, Sara?

Words and Music by Daryl Hall and John Oates. 1975 by Unichappell Music Inc. Copyright Renewed. International Copyright Secured. All Rights Reserved.

Creativity Coach Sherrie says: I don't know, but I'll bet Sarah stays and smiles and sings along. How many of us have a song to remind us of a relationship? To me, it is a testament that whatever their feelings now, they DID have real love for each other at one time. ;-) <3

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