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Ask the Rock Doc: 
Sound Advice for a Song 
By psychologist Dr. Bruce L. Thiessen, aka Dr. BLT 
Rock Doc Theme Song

Parts of the following inquiry, including the name, details specific to the inquiring party's identity and other elements of the letter may be altered to protect the inquiring party's confidentiality. 

To hear and download (for free) the single-song-soundtrack corresponding to this correspondence, click the link below: 

Bakersfield: This Ain't "Life as it Should Be" 
words and music by Bruce L. Thiessen, aka Dr. BLT (c)2006 

Dear Rock Doc 

I'm from your hometown of Bakersfield.  My name is Bob.  I'll be a junior in High School starting in August.  I am a Christian singer/songwriter and I sing in places like Dagny's and Solomon's Porch.  Lately I've been too depressed perform and too depressed to write any songs.   My guitar has been collecting dust and I don't have anything to sing about these days.  This town is pretty depressing for starters.  I mean it's really tore up.  The smog is suffocating, and we've just been through one of the worst heat waves in years.  I can't take the heat any longer.  I just want to be up in the mountains somewhere where the air is clear and free of smog. 

As I'm sure you've heard, city officials here want to adopt, as their model, the slogan, "Life as it Should Be."  I see it everywhere I go, on street signs.  It makes me wonder if these streets of Bakersfield are the same ones Buck Owens used to sing about.  If Buck were alive today, he would probably protest such a lie.  

My life couldn't be much worse right now.  My father died when I was five, and my mother, being desperate for male companionship, remarried a man who continues to beat her every time she disagrees with him or challenges his so-called authority in the household.  He's twice my size, so all I can do is call the cops and half the time, they don't even do anything about it.  Up until last year, I was a straight A student and I excelled in almost every sport too.  Last year, I just quit everything and my grades dropped to C's and D's.  I just want to get out of this town and away from everything that is making me depressed.  Can you help? 

Bakersfield Bob with the Blues 

Dear Bakersfield Bob with the Blues: 

Sometimes I feel the same way you do about this town (to be completely honest, most of the time), as you will be able to detect if you hear my song (linked above) or if you hit this link, scroll down a few and read my letter to the editor of our local newspaper: 

I'm sure we both have our reasons for remaining here, and I'm sure we both have our reasons for escaping one day when the conditions are right.  Sometimes our surroundings can have a profound impact on our emotions.  This, in turn, affects our thoughts, and our actions.  It's hard to believe that the Apostle Paul of the New Testament actually sang songs while he was in prison.  In the song, Song Sung Blue, Neil Young says, "...when you take the blues and make a song, you sing them out again."  Even though the scriptures seem to indicate that Paul was singing songs of praise, I can't help but wonder if he started out singing the blues.  In any case, it is clear that Paul  understood what many of understandably forget:   It is not our circumstances that control how we feel, but our attitude and approach to our circumstances.  You tell me that you have nothing to sing about, but based on your letter, I can assure you that there is no shortage of song material.  You feel you can't possibly write a song right now because instead of allowing your sorrow to inspire you, you are overwhelmed by it.  Your situation reminds me that great current hit song by the Fray---Over My Head.  

Though you describe yourself as blue, I can't help wonder if you've gone beyond the blues.  When I think of a person with the blues, I think of someone who is overcome with sorrow, but still able to face the music (if you will pardon the pun).  If you have contemplated suicide, or if you are so depressed that you can hardly find the strength to face the day, you may need to see a professional psychologist or therapist.  If that's the case, I will email you back with some referrals.  Of course the most important aspect involved in selecting a therapist is the aspect of your comfort level.  I can recommend somebody, but that doesn't mean you will be able to feel comfortable with him/her.  So, if you think you may require professional help, I'd recommend doing a search of your own, and talking to several on the telephone to test out your own comfort level.  

It sounds like your mother needs professional help to try to rise above the victim role she finds herself in.  Her  life has become like the woman depicted in this song: 

Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Jones 
words and music by Bruce L. Thiessen, aka Dr. BLT 

And your step-father, if you call him that (he doesn't seem worthy of the title), needs intense treatment as well as an anger management group.  I'd also recommend family therapy.  While not negating aspects of the problem that are unique to the individual, family therapists strive to understand a person's problem from a broader perspective, taking into account such factors as rules (or lack thereof), dysfunctional communication patterns, and roles (such as your mother's apparent role of victim or symptom-bearer, and your step-father's apparent role as a violent perpetrator), into account.   From the family systems perspective, your family is clearly in a state of disequilibrium.  I'm sure you've come across that word before, but it's something you and your peers would probably describe as "tore up."   

If you simply have the blues,  I'll repeat myself with these words from Neil Diamond: 

Me and you are subject to the blues now and then 
But when you take the blues and make a song 
You sing them out again 
Sing them out again 
*** If you are a musician in distress, or a parent, sibling or peer of one, feel free to write Dr. BLT, The Rock Doc at one of the new email addresses: 
And feel free to visit my website at the new address: 
Dr. BLT, aka Dr. Bruce L. Thiessen, is a Christ-centered licensed clinical psychologist and university instructor who specializes in the psychology of modern music.  He uses his original songs as well as those of other artists to address the problems of his patients, including his biggest, sickest, most challenging patient--society.

His face and name recognition, particularly with teens, comes from his short part on a long Cake music video--the Cake video for “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” that earned the band a nomination for Ground Breaking Music Video of the Year on the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards. 



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