Track of the Day: 'Strange Angels' by Laurie Anderson

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

The latest reader entry for our cinema series comes from Al Berg:

From the movie The Doctor, Laurie Anderson singing “Strange Angels” perfectly captures the heightened sensibility and wonder of life as death approaches:

If, like me, you haven’t seen the movie yet, here’s part of the synopsis to better understand the scene:

Dr Jack MacKee is a successful surgeon at a leading hospital. He and his wife have all the trappings of success, although Jack works such long hours that he rarely has time to see their son and has become somewhat emotionally dead to his wife. His “bedside manner” with his patients, in many cases seriously ill, is also quite lacking. [...]

Returning home from a dinner party, Jack has a coughing fit. His wife Anne is shocked when he coughs up blood all over her and the car. In an examination, Jack has a sample of a growth removed from his throat. The biopsy comes back positive for cancer. [...] As Jack experiences life as a patient, there comes a clearer understanding of the emotionally void hospitals, some doctors, and his own colleagues can display. He befriends June Ellis, a fellow cancer patient who has an inoperable brain tumor.

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