I was just watching a news story about a girl whose father was Chief Steward on Malaysian Flight 370, the plane that has disappeared over the Indian Ocean. Not knowing whether her father is alive or dead, not know how to reach him but needing to connect, needing to believe he can hear her, she turned to Twitter.
She lets her father know he’s missing his favorite football game, the one they always watch together. She tweets raw feelings: “Daddy, come home. I miss you.” She sends the tweets out into the vague, everywhere-ness of the Internet. Isn’t it just possible that somewhere, she thinks, somehow, in this vast, airy endless space, he might hear her?
We often make fun of Twitter as 144 characters of trivia. But a few words in the hands of strong emotion can be so much more.
Songs can be like that. There are people who are gone, people we can’t reach for many reasons. And our ties to them are strong, sometimes unbreakable. When I write and sing a song from that place, I feel it connect. There’s a sense that it is heard and I feel better. I suppose it’s a little like praying. Or throwing a message in a bottle into the sea believing it will reach some unknown, hoped-for shore.
There are some songs that want to remain private, just between you and the person you wrote it for. Others want to get out there and go searching for ears to hear them.
Posting a song on the Internet, on YouTube or Soundcloud, sends a song out into the world on its own journey where it can speak to others. That’s certainly true. Can it reach beyond that? I have no idea. But sometimes it’s all you can do and it can be enough to see you through.