Superman (It's Not Easy)

Album: America Town (2000)
Charted: 48 14


  • 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." (Here's our full John Ondrasik interview.)
  • 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 video was done in one shot using a motion control technique where a robotic camera is used to create smooth movements, stopping at key points along the way. It was shot in front of green screens so the backgrounds could be composited in later.

    The clip starts with a shot of John Ondrasik's pregnant wife, Carla, who is holding their young child. At the end of the video, they show up again on a bed, and we see Ondrasik join them.

    Ramaa Mosley, who directed the video, told us: "When I wrote the idea for the video I knew that John was married and his next baby was on the way. I knew that while on the road he really missed his family, so I came up with the idea of the video ending with him reunited with them. It just felt like 'Superman' was a metaphor for John going out into the world to accomplish big things but always carrying his family in his heart."
  • The band name comes from a hockey term. If you get a penalty for fighting, you serve five minutes in the penalty box. The band is actually just Ondrasik.
  • Superman does not appear in the lyrics and the character was not used in any promotional materials for it. Since Superman is owned by DC Comics, Ondrasik had to be careful not to violate the copyright. Chuck Berry found this out when he had to turn over royalties for "Run Rudolph Run" to the owners of the Rudolph character, as his song told a detailed story about the reindeer.

Comments: 32

  • Joel from Princeton, NjGreat song. Should have been used on House
  • Nathan Ritz from Paoli, Inthere is not a hero in all of us James, is there a hero in a rapist, murderer or someone like me, i'm not a rapist or a murderer but you get the f--king point
  • Kimewaza from Falling Waters, WvI love this song. To me Ondrasik is equating the job of a superhero to all of us who are parents, older siblings or other type of role model. It is not always easy to be perfect but we must project that image to allow those who look up to us to rest easy, to know that we are looking out for them, "It's all right, You can all sleep sound tonight." The use of Superman as our counterpart is brilliant.
  • Carey from St Thomas, OnI was struggling with addiction and the life  that came with it.I heard this song one day when my head was spinning,this was me. Nobody knew what was going on in my head, the thoughts,the feelings i was having. It was so" hard to be me".All the pressures in my life i couldn t live with them.Luckily for me i found a group of people who felt the same way and i could relate with.Today i m clean and i hope if you feel the same way, you find the same group of people i did. It s called NA and it save my life
  • Mitchell from Adelaide, Australia To me this song is about how much it sucks to be a hero, I can't remember what show it was off of (not related to the song), but there was this guy who loved comic books and he said about how this comic he was reading wasn't about the normal man wanting to become a superhero, but the superhero wanting to become a normal man, he couldn't wait to get back in his normal clothes and work a normal job. That's what I think this song is about.

    The song says about not having the choice to lose or to have a family and live in a nice home and do all those kinds of things when being a super hero, and its like whoever it is, is speaking to somebody who wants to become a hero, "Its, not easy to be me".
  • B from Los Angeles, Cai recall many years ago when this song came out John did an interview and said that what it means to him is what it's like to be a parent and how you feel like you have to be like a superman to keep up, and also feel like you need to be perfect for you kids.
  • Eb from Orlando Metro, FlThis song reminds me of my husband because it came out he was going through a particularly stressful time in his life. He is a bi-vocational minister, pastoring a church and working a full time job that was very stressful. He was always "on call" with the people from the church, deadlines with his secular job -being pulled in all directions. Because he's a minister, people seem to expect more from him, even perfection. He is special and gifted in certain areas, he does have a call from God on his life, that's why he does what he does, but he's also a regular guy. He is my hero, a real man, with real problems but he does his best, by the help and grace of God. He's a great Dad & Husband!
  • Phillip from Shady Point, OkSince I have became a 100% Disabled Veteran, this song reminds me of how I was and how I am now. It ain't easy to be wheelchair bound. this song keeps me going!
  • Grupoo from Phoenix, AzMy journeys have led to roles directing amazing possibilities. Destroy, save, maintain all are options while I practice my craft. Now, with time I have become a spirit hoping to find grounding. Hoping that ego remains in check and the S on my chest doesn't tarnish.
  • Paul from Melbourne, AustraliaThe song is basicly about the ultimate symbol for perfection in the eyes of society wanting to just be himself.
  • James from Arley, AlIt is about how there is a hero in all of us; we just have to find it. We didn't realize tah as a nation until 9/11.
  • Terry from Coeur D'alene, IdThis so is about being honest with yourself. Most of us do not see ourselves the way other people see us, so we try to live up to their "expectations", but what we really want is to let people know that we're not as good, or as strong, or perfect as they think. I relate to this song.
  • Steve from Burkburnett, Txi can relate to this song because im a band geek with a leadership role. The person that i took orders graduated and i was given office of leadership over my section. He was a great guy and insanely smart and good at music, i felt so lame when it felt like i was incompetent to lead my portion of the band the way my friend did. Even though i had power, i felt weak.
  • Gerald from Philippines, Otherim a die hard Led zep fan! but i like this really
    it makes me reminisce past unforgetable events!
  • Alex from St-marthe, Althis song has been is and will be my greatest one ever, even thought each time i hear it, it makes me feel so bad.Its about self-esteem, and acceptation, which i need.
  • Jeff from Sothington, Cti dint even realize this song was about sept.11 i just loved the song when i heard it on the radio, i really like and and i dont like it when ppl disect songs alot...just listen and enjoy it..i can play it on the piano and never stop because i love a matter of fact im listening to it now..and + i like sad stuff :-(
  • Nathan from Defiance, OhCan you really imagine this crap becoming a hit if not for the feelings of depression after September 11th? After hearing this song I think the terrorists have won. Screw Ondrasik, and all other whiney rockers
  • Danny from Sydney, Australia1 hit wonders? yes.
  • Robert from Puyallup, WaI always think "What if?...." about really good songs. For this one, it was: "What if Superman held in contempt the very people he had taken it upon himself to protect?"
    The line "You can all sleep sound tonight" seems very bitter and cynical.
  • Noli from Manila, Othersobrang ganda ng meaning at lyrics ng kantang 'to...i really love singing this song. it only means that it's not easy to be someone who has a great responsibility over everyone. maybe superman really feel this way
  • Justin from Scranton, Paawesome song....no1 is perfect and everyone has problems...superman feels he can only help so much of the problem, and thats why its hard to be him, to see us all sufer
  • Monty from Omaha, NeThis song is great but it makes me wonder why there are no other introspective songs about superheroes? Is the Human Torch not deep enough? Is Blue Beetle not frought with emotional baggage? Come on, you can't tell me the Wonder Twins don't have issues.
  • Brady from Fort Stockton, Txjust shortly after 9/11, my eighth grade teacher made us analyze this song from the perspective of a mourning, introspective nation. Great song, but i've heard too much about it, so i don't like to listen to it much anymore.
  • Ariel from Woodbridge, Cti can relate a lot to this song, cause its like im only human, and i cant do everything, you try doing my job and you'll see its more than flying around in a cape
  • Kristen from Campbellville, CanadaI alwayz saw it as everyone is a superhero if they want to be, anyone has the powere to good. So beautiful, I mean thats like a part of it for me even if thats not its meaning
  • Lacy Ann from Sturbridge, MaThis is one of my all time favorite songs. It was what made me beg for the CD for christmas that year. "It ain't easy... to be... me"
  • Jessica from Greeneville, TnIt is a truthful song about reÃ¥l people. Saying everyone feels some kind of pain or fear in their life.
  • Brett from Edmonton, CanadaThere used to be a spoof of this on the Internet about Aquaman (the guy who made it also did a spoof of "Fortunate Son" with Batman and has done others about Green Lantern, Wonder Woman etc)
  • Terri Lynn from Heart's Desire, Canadathis is a very meaningful song... great for anytime you feel like a misfit and that no one gets who you are. the lyrics are great,
    'nuff said.
  • Jared from Norwalk, OhI agree with Antoinette. It is a great song and it makes you think but it has a great theme to it, a good song to just kick back after a long day.
  • Max from Montreal, CanadaWas on the sountrack on Bandits with Billy Bob Thornton, Bruce Willis and Kate Blanchette
  • Antoinette from Bloemfontein, South Africait's a great song,lets you think
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Dar WilliamsSongwriter Interviews

A popular contemporary folk singer, Williams still remembers the sticky note that changed her life in college.

U2Fact or Fiction

How did The Edge get his name? Did they name a song after a Tolkien book? And who is "Angel of Harlem" about?

Michael W. SmithSongwriter Interviews

Smith breaks down some of his worship tracks as well as his mainstream hits, including "I Will Be Here For You" and "A Place In This World."

Director Paul Rachman on "Hunger Strike," "Man in the Box," KissSong Writing

After cutting his teeth on hardcore punk videos, Paul defined the grunge look with his work on "Hunger Strike" and "Man in the Box."

Mike Rutherford (Genesis, Mike + The Mechanics)Songwriter Interviews

Mike Rutherford talks about the "Silent Running" storyline and "Land Of Confusion" in the age of Trump.

Album Cover InspirationsSong Writing

Some album art was at least "inspired" by others. A look at some very similar covers.