I remember exactly where I was when I heard John Ondrasik and Five for Fighting’s “Superman”. On the morning of September 11, 2001, I opened the microphone at the Hot Adult Contemporary station where I worked the midday shift and, for the first time, was at a loss for words.
I was great at mindless banter and giving people a good laugh on their workday.
I wasn’t prepared for what happened that day. None of us were. And these events made John Ondrasik of Five For Fighting’s lyrics hit home even harder:
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”-Superman, (It’s Not Easy)-Five for Fighting
The lyrics to, “Superman (It’s Not Easy)”, challenged us to look inside of ourselves, to hurt with those who lost, to lament on our humanity, to see our heroes as brave, yet fallible, to search for meaning in this world. Some of us mended those fences with those fiends or family members we sparred with. We told people we loved them. We looked inside of ourselves and were less shallow. There were several mixes that radio stations played. I remember hearing United Flight 93, flight attendant, CeeCee Lyles’ tearful phone call to her family spliced into the song.
“Tell my babies I love them.”-CeeCee Lyles
Twenty years later, hearing a member of a flight crew tell her husband to give love to her babies in her final moments is heartbreaking. I have since left corporate radio. As I write this, my husband is piloting a cross-country flight to Boston. My husband has also been to both Iraq and Afghanistan as a Marine and a civilian pilot. Twenty years later, Ondrasik’s “Superman (It’s Not Easy)” rings true. Some of us are still looking for those “special things inside of us”. We look to the heroes of that day and realize some gave all. Yet some of us, like our current administration, are seemingly numb and have forgotten the attack on humanity that happened that very day in 2001. And in some cases, they have just treated this attack on humanity and the hard work and sacrifices of many Americans with blatant disregard. John Ondrasik of Five For Fighting had some thoughts he turned into song. Per his Press Release:
On the day when 13 U.S. soldiers and more than 60 Afghans were killed by a suicide bomber, Ondrasik sat down to write the lyrics to “Blood On My Hands.”
After our last solider left Afghanistan, I received a call from a friend organizing rescue evacs of ‘AM-CITS’ and SIV holders. It was a highly emotional call and moment of clarity. Private citizens now had the burden of risking their lives to rescue Americans and Afghan allies that our government left behind. America has broken her promise, but these brave Americans have not.”
There is a great tradition of artists speaking their minds and calling out their leaders for answers. Many of those have been inspirations to me. I understand that this song might be perceived by some as a political attack, but those who follow me know I am an American with a history of calling out both sides. After hearing ‘Blood on My Hands,’ a friend said that he found the song to be politically neutral, but morally-forward. My hope is that this song helps demand accountability, so the American promise is not forsaken.”-John Ondrasik
Ondrasik has done his share for the USO, the U.S. military, Augie’s Quest, Austism Speaks, Fisher House Foundation, Save the Children and Operation Homefront, to name a few. His latest, “Blood On My Hands”, can be downloaded for free off the Five For Fighting website here.
Winkin Blinken, can’t you look me in the eyes?
Willy Milley, tell me when did you decide?
‘This Will Defend’, your sacred motto now means…
General Austin, is there no honor in shame?
Can you spell Bagram without the letters in Blame?
Did Uncle Joe stick a drip in your veins…
Hands”-John Ondrasik, Blood On My Hands
The haunting lyrics call out the leaders in this charge to leave Afghanistan. John Ondrasik of Five For Fighting is expressing pretty much what a lot of us Americans are thinking. Ondrasik, as a member of the entertainment industry, has taken a brave stand in light of the sheer cowardice that plagues some of our artists. Keep calling them out, John. It is not the popular stance to take but we’re glad you took it. (He even went live on Hannity.) And hey, radio consultants and program directors? Add this song to your station playlists. I. Dare. You.
Photo Credit: The U.S. Army/FlickR/Creative Commons/Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)/Cropped
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