There are many songs that I like, but there are some songs that are really special. Take, for example, one of my recent favorites, SHEL’s “Is the Doctor in Today.” From the delicate mandolin opening, to the hushed voice of Eva intoning this litany of deep longing, to the climactic chorus cutting straight to the heart of the matter — this song may not pound or scream, but it’s brimming with the power that only music can have.
“Tell me, is the child still alive?
The one one who used to look out in my eyes
I’ve been listening for her faded words
Gentle voice I haven’t heard
Tell me, is anybody there?
Is anybody there?
Is anybody there?
Well I think I hear a voice
Calling out in all the noise
Is anybody there?”
One of the powers of the music is its ability to make us feel. And there are these tender, raw feelings, one that we can’t bear to bring out, those that stay locked up inside, like an ugly toy that means so much to you but nobody else will appreciate. And that last part creates this profound loneliness.
When words and music come together to directly touch upon that feeling that you can’t share with someone else, it creates a sense of connection. Like you just told a friend your long-kept secret and was received gently and lovingly. All the sudden you feel like someone else knows how you feel.
And that creates a sense of relief. Music is powerful, because it can create a bond, a camaraderie, in places where it’s very hard to connect with real human beings. As connected as we are now, many of us are so lonely inside. We feel lost and alone with burdens we can’t share with others.
So it’s a powerful thing, when you find that special song that can help you carry that burden. Or even sometimes, help you let it go. A movie may offer a similar power but that’s more a more demanding medium, requiring you to sit and pay attention. Music is more accessible, entering your heart through the ears instead of the eyes. And that lack of visuals sometimes helps cut through to our core, because we’re not distracted by what we see.
Not every piece of music wields that kind of power, so when I come across a song like SHEL’s “Is the Doctor in Today” I feel grateful. Here are some people who can relate to what I’m going through, and they know how to express it so eloquently in their song.