Sunday, May 31, 2009
Waiting for Superman
I recently heard an archived interview with Dana Reeve (wife of the late Christopher) from the Howard Stern show. Among the topics of conversation was the Superman curse:
" The Superman curse refers to a series of misfortunes that have plagued creative people involved in adaptations of Superman in various media, particularly actors who have played the role of Superman on film and television. The curse basically states, If you intend to play the strongest man on Earth, you will either die or end up in the weakest position possible...."
While this curse has been well documented in folk lore, bar stool philosophy, comicon back rooms and a Ben Affleck movie; the real truth about the tragedy of the Superman curse comes from The Flaming Lips. In 1999, I stumbled upon a Flaming Lips album in the record store. My thoughts of them were of a Roxy Music type flamboyant glam band.....I was wrong. The record "The Soft Bulletin" was produced by the great Dave Fridmann and Steven Drozd's sonic contributions catapulted the band from an avant garde garage band to rock opera purveyors.
It was not until a few listens through that I landed on my pillow to hear "Waiting for Superman". As happens with me and lady music from time to time, tears flowed from my face while the extraordinary story unfolded:
Wayne Coyne sings: "...is it overwhelming to use a crane to crush a fly...it's a good time for Superman to lift the sun into the sky..."
"...tell everybody waiting for Superman that they should try to hold on the best they can. He hasn't dropped them, forgot them, or anything. It's just too heavy for Superman to lift..."
Mind blowing in it's crushing nature as if to tell us....If Superman is giving up by taking his own life under pressure what can we possibly do to get through this. The man in the cape is not coming, he has laid himself down in defeat, you are on your own! For some reason the song, as terrible as it seemed on the surface, gave me hope. Hope that maybe one day Superman would be back and that he has not dropped or forgotten us but that he is in a bunker planning his grand return to save the human race. If the aforementioned failed it helped me understand that Superman (or God or my Dad or my Boss) will not always be there for me so there comes a point where I have to ask myself....."If not me, then who?".
Years later I was attending an Iron & Wine performance and the great Sam Beam armed with only an acoustic guitar performed 'waiting for superman'; again the tears. How on earth could Sam Beam possibly realize the importance of this song to me, why did it fit so perfectly with the rest of his set and why was he looking directly at me as he sang the tragic/hope filled tale. As Sam's sister Sara complimented his voice into the chorus the sun was truly lifted into the sky. For the first time in a very long time I felt completely at home. I swore if I ever became a father to a son I would name him Sam.
So now as the doom and gloom of the world's financial abyss drowns us all, families part, people take their own lives, and soldiers struggle for our freedom on earth...our heroes seem to be in exile.
As your humble narrator I can only offer you this:
Keep Your Eyes on the Horizon - Superman is coming!
(and until he does)
Ask Yourself - If Not Me Then Who? - Carry the weight long enough and you too will learn to fly.
Hold on the best you can,