Truth in Brandi Carlile's Music: Singing with the Holy Spirit

I am always finding new truths about life, faith and creative pursuits in the music of Brandi Carlile, a Seattle-based folk rock singer-songwriter. (Photo:

Have you ever revisited a song and found a new truth in it? I do it all the time. Here’s an example. 

I hopped in the car to visit a friend recently. Brandi Carlile’s “Bear Creek” album was in the CD player. The day before, I was listening to it for the first time in a few months. I said to my husband that Track 8, “I’ll Still Be There,” is a beautiful picture of friendship.

Then, while listening to it on the road to my friend Pam’s — holy waterworks — I realized something.

“I’ll Still Be There” is not just a sweet picture of human love. It also describes my relationship with the Holy Spirit. Especially lately, as I’ve emerged from a difficult season. Grief. Shame. Depression. Anxiety. I have a new appreciation for the Spirit’s role as The Comforter and Power-Giver.

To understand what I mean, listen to “I’ll Still Be There”:

I imagine this as a conversation between me and the Holy Spirit. I am talking to him and he is responding.

I tell him, “There never was a better love / to see the light of day” than his. He replies, “If the world should let you down / if the sky should fall and never make a sound,” he’ll be there.

We are both brokenhearted. The world let us down. I am brokenhearted by my suffering, yours and ours.

He is brokenhearted because he never wanted us to suffer. It was a known but not wished-for consequence of giving humanity free will. He wouldn’t take free will back, but our pain breaks his heart.

Otherwise, why would he say this through the Apostle Paul?

“In the same way, the Spirit himself helps us in our weaknesses. … (He) intercedes for us through wordless groans.” (Romans 8:26)

Wordless groans. That sounds intense. Does the Spirit of God care for me so much he would put himself through the pain of wordless groans on my behalf?

I am forced to conclude he does. All the evidence in my life points to it. And Scripture backs me up.

I am like King David in the Old Testament. I say to God,

“Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.” (Psalm 6:2)

And God hears me: 

“Away from me, all you who do evil, for the Lord has heard my weeping. The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer.” (Psalm 6:8-9)

What Brandi Carlile said about human love, I reclaim as truth about the Spirit, my friend and healer. There never was a better love.

I pray I can remember this truth next time I need healing.

Read more of my posts about music here and faith here.

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Alan Blanchard said...

Thanks for this thoughtful piece and for reminding of the powerful presence and work of the Holy Spirit.

Alan Blanchard

Rachel E. Watson said...

Oh, thank you! For reading and for commenting. I hope you'll check out more of BC's music some time. There are lots of gems like this one. :)