“To Where You Are” is a sentimental song about remembering people who have died. The lyrics focus on how the living still experience the presence of their departed loved ones and hope to see them again. There is a distinctly spiritual element to this song. It’s centered on the idea that bonds forged between two people do not diminish because one of them passes away
Although it was Josh Groban who first recorded this track, he was not the songwriter. That honor goes to Richard Marx and Linda Thompson, who wrote the song for Groban’s 2001 debut album. In the same year (before it was ever released as a single), Groban performed the song on a very pivotal episode of the TV show Ally McBeal. The themes of this episode are deeply tied to the themes of the lyrics, giving us a clue about the intended meaning.
In this article, we’ll perform an analysis of these emotional lyrics to discover their intended meaning. We’ll also look at the story of the song and its human themes that make it accessible to anyone. Without further ado, let’s get started!
The lyrics begin by asking a question intended to make the listener think. The narrator wonders if their departed loved one is “still here” but is uncertain. He says, “I feel you all around me,” which is an experience anyone who has lost someone can understand.
When he says, “I can hear you speak,” this isn’t meant to be taken literally. It’s not a ghost story. Instead, his memory is “so clear” and vivid that the voice truly seems to be saying something. What do these words he hears say? We aren’t told, but we do know they are “an inspiration.”
Finally, the first verse ends with another question. Like the first one, its implied answer is yes. The narrator asks his “forever love” if she is watching over him “from above.” To make it clear, he’s speaking of an afterlife (since he implies a belief in heaven).
Nonetheless, the idea of this afterlife doesn’t stop his longing to reunite with his dearly departed. He asks her to fly him “beyond the distant star” where she is. He desperately wants to see her smile, even “if only for a while to know you’re [the deceased] there.” Knowing she is happy, present, and okay would mean the world to him.
Very cleverly, the chorus also describes her location as just “a breath away.” Later, it will also be described as “one beat away.” These lines refer to the fact that, in order to go where she is, the narrator would have to die. There’s only a one-breath difference between not breathing and normal respiration. He’s not saying he’s going to kill himself, but he is acknowledging where she is.
Verse two picks up the question pattern from verse one. The question, “Isn’t faith believing all power can’t be seen?” is meant to address the invisibility of the afterlife. It is difficult to believe in something you cannot directly touch, see, or otherwise experience. Nonetheless, he says, “My heart holds you” as he continues to “cherish” the good times they shared.
In the latter part of this verse, the song reaches an emotional and spiritual peak. Whereas his questions before indicated a bit of doubt, now he is stating his belief. He proclaims, “I believe that angels breathe and that love will live on.” There is no way to translate that into more pragmatic terms; his experience of her presence is too powerful for him to dismiss.
At this point, the chorus repeats and the song ends. In summary, “To Where You Are” is a simple yet deceptively clever tune about the strange chasm between the living and the dead. Though, at times, this gap may seem wide, these lyrics assure us that it is not as significant as we may think.
Given the fact that this song was written by professional songwriters for another party rather than a freewheeling artist, little is known about the creative process behind this song. There is a deafening silence when one looks for interviews, explanations, or stories that inspired these poetic words.
Perhaps the reason for this is the song’s straightforwardness. It’s about something anyone can understand – maybe no explanation is necessary.
Nonetheless, we can look at the trajectory of the song’s existence and proliferation for clues toward its inspiration. For example, in the same year this song was recorded and released (2001), it was featured in Josh Groban’s guest appearance on Ally McBeal.
In the two episodes in question, Groban’s character deals with the loss of his mother. His father, a minister, begins to falter in his Christian faith. The arc culminates in Groban’s performance of “To Where You Are” as an answer to these human struggles.
After this appearance, the song was released as a single, earning Groban healthy success in both the commercial and critical domains. Following this version, several other artists have done covers, including Kristy Starling, Joe McElderry, Mark Evans, and Chloe Agnew.
The next time you play this touching piece, let these pieces of background information make it more special!