♫ Superman (It’s Not Easy) ♫

Keith mentioned this song a few days ago, and at first it didn’t ring any bells, so I headed over to YouTube to listen and … sure enough … I’ve heard this one many times and always liked it.  Long story short, once I listened, it got rather stuck in my head and I even woke in the middle of the night singing it in my head so loudly that it woke me!  (Thanks, Keith … I guess I deserved that for all the times I’ve planted an earworm in your head!) Now, I’ve mentioned before that I rarely get the lyrics right in a song, because with my poor hearing, I never hear them right.  So, until tonight when I began researching this song, I had a feeling it was about the Muppet character, Kermit The Frog! 🐸 Why, you ask?  Because I thought he was singing “It’s not easy to be green.”  I must admit, as a long-time Kermit fan, I was a bit disappointed to learn the truth, but I did enjoy learning what the song is really about!

This song, released in April 2001, is by Five for Fighting and is the only song of his that I can recall liking.  I would have expected Five for Fighting to be a group of five musicians, but no … it is a single musician, John Ondrasik.  According to SongFacts …

This song about trying to fit in was written from Superman’s point of view. The superhero is portrayed as misunderstood and not as powerful as people see him: “I’m only a man in a funny red sheet.” Superman may be invincible, but he has feelings too, and while he’s off saving the world he sometimes wonders if anyone thinks about what he is going through.

The song reflects what John Ondrasik (who is Five For Fighting) felt at the time – he released his first album, Message for Albert, in 1997 and it went nowhere. Explaining what led him to write the song, which appeared on his next album, Ondrasik told us it was “frustration about the inability to be heard.”

This became very popular after the September 11 attacks. The reflective tone fit very well with the mood of the United States, and many radio stations put it in heavy rotation. Ondrasik heard from emergency workers and others who found it a source of comfort after the attacks.

Ondrasik performed this song on October 20, 2001 at the “Concert For New York,” a tribute to the police, firefighters, and rescue workers involved in the World Trade Center Attacks. It was a very touching moment, and he called this performance “the most important thing I’ll ever do musically.” Ondrasik stood next to James Taylor and Pete Townshend at the end of the show when they all sang “Let It Be.”

The song hit #14 in the U.S. and #48 in the UK, but actually fared better in Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Ireland, and Italy than in the U.S.!

Superman (It’s Not Easy)
Five for Fighting

I can’t stand to fly
I’m not that naive
I’m just out to find
The better part of me

I’m more than a bird, I’m more than a plane
I’m more than some pretty face beside a train
And it’s not easy to be me

I wish that I could cry
Fall upon my knees
Find a way to lie
‘Bout a home I’ll never see

It may sound absurd, but don’t be naive
Even heroes have the right to bleed
I may be disturbed, but won’t you concede
Even heroes have the right to dream
And it’s not easy to be me

Up, up and away, away from me
Well it’s all right
You can all sleep sound tonight
I’m not crazy or anything

I can’t stand to fly
I’m not that naive
Men weren’t meant to ride
With clouds between their knees

I’m only a man in a silly red sheet
Digging for kryptonite on this one way street
Only a man in a funny red sheet
Looking for special things inside of me

Inside of me, inside of me, yeah
Inside of me, inside of me
I’m only a man in a funny red sheet
I’m only a man looking for a dream
I’m only a man in a funny red sheet
And it’s not easy
Oh, it’s not easy to be me

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: John Ondrasik
Superman (It’s Not Easy) (iTunes Session) lyrics © Emi Blackwood Music Inc., Five For Fighting Music

37 thoughts on “♫ Superman (It’s Not Easy) ♫

  1. Oh gosh this has always been one of my favourite songs. It’s one of those songs that make me feel like I’ve been punched in the chest when I hear it. His voice and the lyrics work together so well to give that effect. Such a fantastic song

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  2. Jill, well at least it is a nice ear worm. You reminded me that Five for Fighting sang this at one of the 9/11 concerts honoring the police and fire fighters who risked and all those who lost their lives.

    I wrote about it recently to remind everyone that even Superman is not perfect, so we need to be mindful that everyone had faults and has made mistakes, including the fault finders. Keith

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  3. I definitely remember that song when this came out during my youth. I never realized the song was that deep after checking out all the lyrics. Wow, I underestimated the meaning of the song after all these years.

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        • The odd thing is that while I have vivid memories of everything surrounding 9/11 burned into my brain (I lost someone dear to me in the Towers), I don’t recall this song being big in the aftermath. Perhaps I was so glued to the television that I didn’t hear the radio?

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          • I have vivid memories of what happened even though I was in middle school when that happened. It was surreal as well as scary going into school and all the TVs were on showing everything. I’m really sorry to hear about you losing someone in the Towers. Maybe I just didn’t make the connection or correlation, but I do remember it being a big hit not long after when I was younger.

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            • I can only imagine how frightening that must have been … I would have thought the schools would have kept the televisions off! My granddaughter was 6 at the time, and we had to keep the t.v. downstairs on Nickelodeon, for the live coverage upset her so much.

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              • It was frightening and it felt like being in a movie even though it was real life. At that time, I would’ve never thought I would see any tragedy happening in real time of that level. Every classroom’s TV was on then and even my friends who went to different schools had similar experiences. Since that happened in the morning, it was one of the first or first things they saw at school that day. 9/11 is one of those days where people know exactly where they were when it happened. I could only imagine how you and your family felt with the live footage let alone the ties you had to someone you knew who was unfortunately in Ground Zero.

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                • You are so right! I remember the exact spot I was standing when a co-worker told me that a plane had hit the World Trade Center and my heart dropped. The days that followed are a blur now, but that one single moment is forever etched in my brain. At the time, I had no idea my cousin was in the Towers, for he was attending a business meeting at Windows on the World in the North Tower, and we didn’t learn until two days after. I haven’t been to New York since, though I’ve wanted to go more than a few times, but I’m not sure I can.

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                  • Glad you agree. That must have been frightening remember all of that. I remember the days afterwards being a blur, too. I understand if you don’t feel like visiting New York City given what happened.

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                    • It’s sad, because I love New York … have always considered it “my” city, having spent about half of my childhood there. But, we’ll see … if the opportunity arises, I’ll probably go.

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                    • That, coupled with being ‘farmed out’ to relatives from time to time made for an interesting childhood. I never, until I was a teenager, had the chance to make lasting friendships, for about the time I got to know someone, we moved. But, we overcome those things, don’t we?

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                    • Sure. I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t make that many friendships, but I can see why that would happen. Life can certainly be strange. Did you try to keep in touch with some of those friends years later in some way though?

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                    • I did stay in touch with two of the friends I made in high school for a time, but eventually that fell by the wayside as we each had lives, careers, children, etc. But, I think that most people, unless they live their entire lives in one place, lose touch with the people who were a part of their younger lives. The nature of the beast, so to speak.

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                    • That’s understandable. I can relate to that with a lot of my high school friends or even my college ones since we all got busy with life and jobs. I can see that. I lived in multiple towns, so I don’t know what it’s like to stay in one place for a very long time.

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  4. I don’t recall this from its original release, but knew the song from the Boyce Avenue cover. A beautiful song, and I can see why it meant so much after 9/11.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Never having heard the Boyce Avenue cover, I went in search of and found it and … it is so much better than the original! If I had known about that one last night, I would have included it as well. In truth, I knew nothing of Boyce Avenue until just now, so thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Memory Lane time:
    A recording industry oddity, Donovan’s Sunshine Superman was recorded in England, but first released in the US and Canada almost a full year before it was released in the UK. https://youtu.be/YsX2FhBf9nY
    Twenty-five years later, Winnipeg’s Crash Test Dummies released their first single, Superman’s Song. https://youtu.be/EeyhKWjQaKk

    You didn’t mention the origin of the name Five for Fighting, Jill. Three of the most famous words in hockey, announced after the breaking up of a fight during a game. The referee points at the combatants and shouts, “Five for fighting!” and the crowd cheers, but not for the referee. Hockey crowds love fighting, but what they get from it I am not sure.
    I can see where you thought this song was about Kermie, It’s Not Easy being Green. Obviously FfF’s song has a special meaning to Americans. I’ll take CTD’S song or Kermie’s song over it. Donovan’s Sunshine Superman blows them all away.
    If I can find it there is one more song from the 60s I am remembering, a B side, but at this point I cannot remember the A side, or the band.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Well, I remembered the song, Super Duper Man, B side of the Strangeloves’ In the Night Time, but apparently only in Canada. It had a different B side in the US. Looked everywhere I could think, but no song, or even any record of the song. So I’ll give you the A side: https://youtu.be/RSOHSY4iF64
      A band or duo calling itself Toy Box recorded a song of the same name decades later. I tried to listen to it to see if it was the same song? It wasn’t, and I am not offering it to you or your readers. Sounded like two cats fighting.
      Speaking of cats, as of yesterday we now have 6. SiSi came to us yesterday, a young abandoned kitten, maybe 7 months old. The spitting image of a cat I lived with earlier in my life, named Isis. SiSi is medium length hair, pure black, not another colour to be found on her, at least not yet. The Five are most upset, for now, but they will learn to love her. She is just so adorable…

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    • I had no idea there were so many songs with ‘Superman’ in the title! I also had no idea there was a group called ‘Crash Test Dummies’! You’re broadened my horizons today!

      Sorry for the oversight in the background about the name … I saw it, but passed it by … probably because it had the word “hockey” in it, and my eyes glaze and start spinning when it comes to sports!


      • Your oversight is my opportunity to fill in blanks.
        I saw the Crash Test Dummies at a Concert in the Park in Winnipeg. They had a string of hits in the early 90s, and I thought they had some hits in the States. I really wasn’t paying much attention in those days. Travelling Wilburys were the main thing I listened to on the radio, including George Harrison and Roy Orbison.

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