Come on, people: Enough punishing of the body with fattening foods and late nights of drinking! Time to take care of ourselves a little better. Time to see a damn doctor!
You know what he’ll tell you: Drink more water. Drink less booze. Eat more veggies. Eat less sugar. Get more exercise. Get more sleep.
And don’t forget about your mental health. Be kind to yourself. Do some meditating, or turn off the news. Breathe fully. Listen more and talk less.
And oh yes — listen to more music! Music is the Queen of Your Soul, as Average White Band once sang. Music will get you up and dancing. Music will soothe your weary mind.
But it stands to reason that rock songs about doctors would be just the elixir you need. Here are 15 examples for your listening pleasure, with a Spotify list below.
“Rock and Roll Doctor,” Little Feat, 1974
Lowell George came up with this great tune for his band’s “Feats Don’t Fail Me Now” album. It uses the “rock music as medicine” metaphor in a nice twist of boogie and shuffle: “There was a woman in Georgia, didn’t feel just right, she had the fever all day and chills at night, now things got worse, yes, a serious bind, at times like this, it takes a man with a style I cannot often find, a doctor of the heart and a doctor of mind, if you like country with a boogie beat, he’s the man to meet, if you like the sound of shufflin’ feet, he can’t be beat, if you wanna feel real nice, just ask the rock and roll doctor’s advice…”
“Somebody Get Me a Doctor,” Van Halen, 1979
This hard rocker from Van Halen’s second album features lyrics that sound like it could be serious, but it’s actually played for grins. The narrator has had too much and he’s thinking maybe he needs help getting home, or just getting up, so he can continue his misadventures a while longer: “You better call up the ambulance, I’m deep in shock, overloaded, baby, I can hardly walk, somebody get me a doctor, somebody get me a doctor…”
“Doctor My Eyes,” Jackson Browne, 1972
Browne, a wonderfully perceptive lyricist, wrote this somewhat depressing piece when he was still an unsigned artist searching for not only success but some sort of meaning in his life. The narrator asks his doctor (probably a therapist) if perhaps it would’ve been a good idea for him to have kept his eyes closed to the woes of society: “I have done all that I could to see the evil and the good without hiding, you must help me if you can, doctor, my eyes, tell me what is wrong, was I unwise to leave them open for so long?…”
“Doctor to My Disease,” Jethro Tull, 1991
In this rocker from Tull’s “Catfish Rising” LP, Ian Anderson is heartbroken, and doesn’t expect the woman responsible to be able to fix the problem, because she is no physician: “I got no cure for this condition that you’ve been causing me tonight, well, you put my heart in overdrive, hand me the bullet I must bite, you can stir me up and you can cut me down, you can probe a little, push that knife around, but there’s one thing I should tell you to which you must agree, it’s no use you playing doctor to my disease…”
“Coconut,” Nilsson, 1972
This whimsical novelty song by the late great Harry Nilsson has the narrator nursing a hangover and asking a doctor for some pain relief. It basically concludes that the cure for a hangover is the “hair of the dog” remedy: “She put the lime in the coconut, she drank ’em both up, called the doctor, woke him up and said, ‘Doctor, ain’t there nothin’ I can take?’ I said, ‘Doctor, to relieve this bellyache?’, ‘Put a lime in the coconut and drink ’em both together, put the lime in the coconut, then you’ll feel better, put the lime in the coconut, drink ’em both down, put the lime in the coconut, and call me in the morning…'”
“Doctor Robert,” The Beatles, 1966
John Lennon heard about a doctor in Los Angeles who was willing to write prescriptions for celebrities who wanted recreational drugs, and he thought the fellow would be a great subject for a song he was writing for The Beatles’ “Revolver” album: “If you’re down, he’ll pick you up, Doctor Robert, take a drink from his special cup, Doctor Robert, he’s a man you must believe, helping anyone in need, no one can succeed like Doctor Robert…”
“Love in the Ruins (Doctor Dear Doctor),” Animal Logic, 1991
Stewart Copeland, drummer for The Police, teamed up with jazz bass great Stanley Clarke and singer/songwriter Deborah Holland to produce two LPs as the group Animal Logic in the late 1980s. This track includes lyrics by Holland that, while they could be about treating injuries and diseases, is really about healing wounds left by broken relationships: “Doctor, dear doctor, I know how you feel, there’s so many people you’re dying to heal, and all you can do is the best you can do, doctor, dear doctor, it’s all up to you…”
“Dr. Feelgood,” Aretha Franklin, 1968
The Queen of Soul’s first Atlantic LP, “I Never Loved a Man The Way I Love You,” was chock full of superb R&B classics like “Respect” and the title track, and one of the hidden gems was this tune about a sensuous lover whom she regards as her doctor of love: “Don’t send me no doctor, filling me up with all of those pills, I got me a man named Dr. Feelgood, oh yeah, that man takes care of all of my pains and my ills, his name is Dr. Feelgood-in-the-morning, and taking care of business is really this man’s game, and after one visit to Dr. Feelgood, you’d understand why Feelgood is his name…”
“Bad Case of Lovin’ You (Doctor, Doctor),” Robert Palmer, 1979
British singer Palmer deftly mixed soul, blues, rock reggae and blues during his fine career, and one of his best tracks was this pop smash from 1979, where he bemoans his addiction to a female physician: “I need you to soothe my head and turn my blue heart to red, Doctor, Doctor, give me the news, I got a bad case of lovin’ you, no pill’s gonna cure my ill, I got a bad case of lovin’ you…” He followed up that idea years later in his #1 hit “Addicted to Love.”
“Good Lovin’,” The Rascals, 1966
The unknown songwriting team of Rudy Clark and Arthur Resnick made a few million bucks writing one of the earliest examples of a pop song that looks for a medical solution to the emotional angst of love and romance, which became a monster #2 hit by the Rascals: “I was feelin’ so bad, I asked my family doctor just what I had, I said, ‘Doctor, Mister M.D., now can you tell me what’s ailin’ me?’, he said, ‘Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah, yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah, yes indeed, all you really need is good lovin’…”
“Medicine Man,” Whitesnake, 1979
England’s Whitesnake built a reputation as a hard rock band specializing in rather blatant sexual imagery (“Ready ‘n Willing,” “Slide It In”), which was evident even early on with deep album tracks like “Medicine Man,” where the lover/doctor metaphor is taken to extremes: “There ain’t no use denying when you need it deep inside, you’ve got your witch doctor to keep you satisfied, I’m the medicine man, your doctor of love…”
“I Don’t Need No Doctor,” Humble Pie, 1971
Soul/blues legend Ray Charles was the first to record this Nicholas Ashford-Valerie Simpson song in 1966. Steve Marriott, the guitarist and lead vocalist of this quintessential ’60s-’70s British hard rock band, spearheaded a revised version on its “Rockin’ the Fillmore” live LP, but the idea remains the same. The narrator needs no doctor because he knows he merely needs to be reunited with his woman to be cured of what ails him: “The doctor said I need rest, he put me on the critical list, keeping me safe from harm, all I need is her sweet charm, he gave me a medicated lotion, that wouldn’t do my emotion, I don’t need no doctor, all I need is my baby…”
“Doctor Wu,” Steely Dan, 1975
Walter Becker and Donald Fagen wrote cryptic lyrics about edgy people and places, and this one, from their “Katy Lied” LP, is about a woman’s unhealthy relationship with drugs, personified in the character of Doctor Wu, the fictional man who procures them for her: “Are you with me, Doctor Wu, are you really just a shadow of the man that I once knew, are you crazy, are you high, or just an ordinary guy, have you done all you can do, are you with me, Doctor?…”
“Dear Doctor,” The Rolling Stones, 1968
In this acoustic track from The Stones’ classic “Beggar’s Banquet” album, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards join the party of songwriters who write about love’s heartbreak and the need for a doctor to heal the pain it causes: “Oh help me please, doctor, I’m damaged, there’s a pain where there once was a heart, it’s sleepin’, it’s a-beatin’, can’t you please tear it out, and preserve it right there in that jar?’…”
“The Doctor,” The Doobie Brothers, 1989
Doobies founder/singer/guitarist/songwriter Tom Johnston came up with this excellent rocker for the band’s all-important 1989 LP that revived the group for the ’90s and beyond. The lyrics advance the premise that music has healing powers and can cure almost any ailment you have: “If you ever wonder how to shake your blues, just follow this prescription and get the cure for what’s ailin’ you, music is the doctor, makes you feel like you want to, listen to the doctor just like you ought to, music is the doctor of my soul…”
Amusing aside: I have a friend who’s a surgeon and also an accomplished drummer. He found some other physician-musicians and formed a band called The Retractors and had a blast playing gigs, but their busy schedules allowed for only sporadic performances and almost no rehearsal time. I sometimes muse about the kinds of songs you might have found on a Retractors album…
“Doctor Love,” First Choice, 1977; “Dr. Feelgood,” Motley Crüe, 1989; “Witch Doctor,” David Seville, 1958; “Calling Dr. Love,” KISS, 1977; “Medicine Man,” Michael Murphy, 1975; “Doctor! Doctor!,” Thompson Twins.
Nice job. I was pleased you thought of “The Doctor,” which if it is not the Doobie Brothers’ last hit, it’s close.
Cool, you hit all the ones that came to my mind under “Doctor” and particular kudos for shouting out the Animal Logic tune. They are pretty obscure but their two albums have always been top favorites!