Superman’s Song – Crash Test Dummies

A band remembered for one massive hit single and a couple more that petered out behind it. The best thing they ever did in my humblest, was given away as a B-Side on the back of that massive hit Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm.

The track originally featured on their debut album The Ghosts That Haunt Me which did virtually no business at all. So this old single was pushed on the back of the lead track for And God Shuffled His Feet because it was too good to let it fall into obscurity.

Back in those days Superheroes were still very much the domain of the nerd. To even reference them in more than passing was to risk your ‘street cred’. I however, have always been a nerd. Before it was cool to know nerd shit (which these days means watching some blockbusters and buying the bobble heads) I knew which line up of the X-Men bought it in The Fall of the Mutants. I knew Spider-Man’s costume would not stay black indefinitely and I knew The Dark Knight Returns was 4 issues compiled into a bind up not published as a Graphic Novel.

So songs that entered into the universe of the comic book fan got noticed. Anthrax were a comicbook friendly metal band. The Ramones held the punk banner. Suicide were big fans of Ghost Rider and Alice Cooper was working with Neil Gainman.

So far so good, but we also had to tolerate Spin Doctors Pocketful of Kryptonite. We found our music cautiously.

“Superman never made any money savin’ the world from Solomon Grundy & sometimes I despair the world will never see another man like him”

In the song Crash Test Dummies have imagined a crossover between the DC Universe of Superman and the world of Edgar Rice Burroughs proto superhero Tarzan. They don’t clash with fists. But they do compete for the listeners respect.

“Hey Bob, Supe had a straight job even though he coulda smashed through any bank in the United States. He had the strength but he would not”

Makes it’s case for Kal El while Lord Greystoke is reduced to a caricature of dumb beast.

“Tarzan was king of the jungle and lord over all the apes, but he could hardly string together four words, I Tarzan you Jane”

So Clark Kent, he was the real gent while Tarzan was not much more than a lazy monkey man. Tarzan had the freedom to do what he pleased. He had the power to save but was idly just sitting around in the jungle, Lording it.

“Sometimes when Supe was stoppin’ crimes I’ll bet that he was tempted to just quit and turn his back on man join Tarzan in the forest”

Brad Roberts was imagining a Superman tired of helping out. In need of R&R. Duty bound to keep on changing in dirty old phone booths and working his day job to boot.  The video for the track appears to have pre-empted the comics Death Of Superman storyline by a year.

20 years before Man of Steel a Canadian indie band made Superman human. And the plot of the song is still better than Dawn Of Justice.


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