♫ Superman (It’s Not Easy) ♫

I didn’t do a music post last night and almost didn’t do one tonight, for I am just tired … almost to the point of not caring about much of anything.  But that was before a special friend sent me a lovely email tonight in which she said, “If I may so bold … please allow me to say that you definitely seem to need some suggestions for your music posts …”  Boy is THAT an understatement!  In my present mood … or should I say my mood of the past several weeks, I keep reverting to those songs that warm my heart without really adding anything much new!  The lone suggestion by my darling friend was this one … Superman (It’s Not Easy) by Five for Fighting.  I listened, I remembered, I liked, and so here I shall play!

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.”

He later explained: “I’ve learned 10 years later that it’s pretty damn easy to be me. I could never write that song now.”

Interestingly, this song became quite popular after the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

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 first year or so that this song was out, I thought it had something to do with Sesame Street’s Kermit the Frog, one of my favourite characters, and that the lyrics were “It’s not easy to be green”.  Sigh.  I wonder how many lyrics I have completely scrambled in my lifetime?  Anyway … this song made the charts at #14 in the U.S. and #48 in the UK … I cannot find evidence that it charted in Canada, but did fairly well in a number of countries such as Australia (#2), Belgium (#4), Italy (#11) and Norway (#12).  And now, without further ado other than to thank my friend Ellen …

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., Colgems-emi Music Inc., Five For Fighting Music

♫ Patches ♫

I was scrolling through a few lists of songs, looking for something I hadn’t already played here because I think I’ve been doing far too many ‘reduxes’ lately.  I had already played all my favourites that I came across on the lists, until I came to this one … Patches.  This is, maybe, one of the saddest songs I’ve ever loved.

Written by General Johnson and Ron Dunbar and best known in the 1970 hit version by Clarence Carter, this song won the 1971 Grammy Award for Best Rhythm & Blues Song.  According to SongFacts …

“Patches” was Clarence Carter’s most famous song, but it was originally recorded by the R&B group Chairmen Of The Board and released as the B-side to their 1970 single “Everything’s Tuesday.” Chairmen Of The Board lead singer General Johnson and his songwriting partner Ronald Dunbar wrote the song, which tells a heartwrenching story about a boy who grows up on a family farm in Alabama. Nicknamed “Patches” because his old clothes were patched together, his father asks him from his deathbed to take care of the family, which he does, working the fields while continuing his education.

Carter really was from Alabama, but he didn’t grow up on a farm and never worked the fields. His delivery was so convincing that many listeners thought Carter was telling the story of his life, which was even more remarkable considering he was blind. Carter said that he sometimes felt like a fraud after receiving letters from fans praising his dedication to his family and citing him as an inspiration. Said Carter, “I heard it on the Chairmen of the Board LP and liked it, but I had my own ideas about how it should be sung. It was my idea to make the song sound real natural – I guess I tried a little too hard for some people!”

The song’s co-writer General Johnson wanted the Chairmen Of The Board’s version to be released as a single. Though his record company liked the song, they saw no potential for it as a single as it had no beat. The song is very unusual in that much of it is spoken. This turned out to be an advantage, and it punctuated the story and made the song stand out on the radio. The spoken interludes (or “preaching” as he called it) were a staple of Carter’s music.

Clarence Carter, known to his fans as Dr. CC, had a difficult childhood. He was blinded at a young age, and attended the Alabama School for the Blind at Talladega. He taught himself to play the guitar by listening to Lightnin’ Hopkins records. Carter had three hits that went gold in the States: “Slip Away,” “Too Weak To Fight” and “Patches.”

While Carter didn’t write this song, he claimed that he could certainly associate with it, since he came from a poor family and knew kids who had to support their families through farm work. Carter’s grandfather died when his mother was still in high school, which also helped him relate to the song.

Patches reached #2 in the UK, #4 in both the U.S. and Ireland, and #16 in Canada.

Patches
Clarence Carter

I was born and raised down in Alabama
On a farm way back up in the woods
I was so ragged that folks used to call me Patches
Papa used to tease me about it
‘Cause deep down inside he was hurt
‘Cause he’d done all he could

My papa was a great old man
I can see him with a shovel in his hands, see
Education he never had
He did wonders when the times got bad
The little money from the crops he raised
Barely paid the bills we made

For, life had kick him down to the ground
When he tried to get up
Life would kick him back down
One day Papa called me to his dyin’ bed
Put his hands on my shoulders
And in his tears he said

He said, Patches
I’m dependin’ on you, son
To pull the family through
My son, it’s all left up to you

Two days later Papa passed away, and
I became a man that day
So I told Mama I was gonna quit school, but
She said that was Daddy’s strictest rule

So every mornin’ ‘fore I went to school
I fed the chickens and I chopped wood too
Sometimes I felt that I couldn’t go on
I wanted to leave, just run away from home
But I would remember what my daddy said
With tears in his eyes on his dyin’ bed

He said, Patches
I’m dependin’ on you, son
I tried to do my best
It’s up to you to do the rest

Then one day a strong rain came
And washed all the crops away
And at the age of 13 I thought
I was carryin’ the weight of the
Whole world on my shoulders
And you know, Mama knew
What I was goin’ through, ’cause

Every day I had to work the fields
‘Cause that’s the only way we got our meals
You see, I was the oldest of the family
And everybody else depended on me
Every night I heard my Mama pray
Lord, give him the strength to make another day

So years have passed and all the kids are grown
The angels took Mama to a brand new home
Lord knows, people, I shedded tears
But my daddy’s voice kept me through the years

Sing,
Patches, I’m dependin’ on you, son
To pull the family through
My son, it’s all left up to you

Oh, I can still hear Papa’s voice sayin’
Patches, I’m dependin’ on you, son
I’ve tried to do my best
It’s up to you to do the rest

I can still hear Papa, what he said
Patches, I’m dependin’ on you, son
To pull the family through
My son, it’s all left up to you

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Ronald Dunbar / Norman Johnson
Patches lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC