Seeing The Light

It isn’t often I take the time to mention the passing of individuals on this website.  My mother, of course… Stanley Kubrick, because I loved so many of his films… Pope John Paul II… Christopher Reeve, because he was, in so many ways, Superman…

I spent most of the morning heads down on some work, barely noticing the world at all, but a few moments ago I broke away and opened a browser to CNN to get a peek at what was going on with the rest of the planet.  Amid the usual political posturing and Middle East happenings, I find out that Jeff Healey died.

In 1988 I didn’t have a CD player yet, only this tape playing monstrous boom box.  That Christmas, one of my gifts was The Jeff Healey Band’s See The Light.  I must have played it a thousand times.  And while my first car didn’t have a tape deck, my second car in 1992 did, See The Light became one of the treasured few that would be played until it broke.  By then I had a CD player for home and I rushed out and bought it, and I’ve had it ever since.

I wouldn’t say that JHB was one of my favorite bands, I only own one other album by them, but they were a band I would never turn away from if the song came on the radio.  But See The Light has always held a special place for me, and it always manages to find its way into my play lists and my CD rotations.  If I feel like bringing down a night of karaoke or serenading my wife or dancing one last slow song before hitting the road, Angel Eyes from that album is the song I most often choose.  Jeff’s music has been and will forever be a part of the soundtrack that plays in my head as my life unfolds around me.

Thank you, Jeff.  You will be missed.

Christopher Reeve: Sept 25, 1952 – Oct 10, 2004

I just don’t know what to say. I had planned this morning to make some tirade about birthdays, seeing that yesterday was my 30th, but then I found out about this, and… I’m not entirely sure why, but sitting in my office at work, I broke down into tears.

Yesterday, as I went about my day, I kept seeing “Happy Birthday” all over the place. Store fronts, a pile of newspapers, and loads more… maybe that phrase is just really common and I normally don’t notice, but yesterday I did, and so did Jodi. She said that it made her think that it was a sign, that my mother was saying it, that she was with me. Also going through my head were thoughts of being 30, and all the things I haven’t yet done, and the general mess my life is, and I was thinking about needing to “grow up”, stop playing games and settle in to work. To put aside childish things, to put aside my childhood, and move on.

And now I find that Christopher Reeve, Superman, a symbol of fantasy, of heroism, of childhood dreams, died on my birthday at the same time I was considering putting aside those dreams. If I were a man who believed in signs… well, maybe I am a man who believes in signs, and that’s why I’m crying.

While I go try to collect myself, I leave you with the lyrics to two songs, neither of which really evoke what I’m feeling, but they come close, and neither of which will stop playing in my head for many days to come…

Superman (It’s not easy) by 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
More than some pretty face beside a train
It’s not easy to be me

Wish that I could cry
Fall upon my knees
Find a way to lie
About 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
It’s not easy to be me

Up, up and away…away from me
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

It’s not easy to be me.

Superman’s Song by Crash Test Dummies:
Tarzan wasn’t a ladies’ man
He’d just come along and scoop ’em up under his arm
Like that, quick as a cat in the jungle
But Clark Kent, now there was a real gent
He would not be caught sittin’ around in no
Junglescape, dumb as an ape doing nothing

Superman never made any money
For saving the world from Solomon Grundy
And sometimes I despair the world will never see
Another man like him

Hey Bob, Supe had a straight job
Even though he could have smashed through any bank
In the United States, he had the strength, but he would not
Folks said his family were all dead
Their planet crumbled but Superman, he forced himself
To carry on, forget Krypton, and keep going

Superman never made any money
For saving the world from Solomon Grundy
And sometimes I despair the world will never see
Another man like him

Tarzan was king of the jungle and Lord over all the apes
But he could hardly string together four words: “I Tarzan, You Jane.”

Sometimes when Supe was stopping crimes
I’ll bet that he was tempted to just quit and turn his back
On man, join Tarzan in the forest
But he stayed in the city, and kept on changing clothes
In dirty old phonebooths till his work was through
And nothing to do but go on home

Superman never made any money
For saving the world from Solomon Grundy
And sometimes I despair the world will never see
Another man like him