[Image: 'Meltdown' Front Cover]



When the house fell asleep
There was always a light
And it fell from the page to the eyes
Of an American boy

In a storybook land
I could dream what I read
When it went to my head I'd see
I wanna be a hero

But the practical side
Said the question was still
When you grow up what will you be?
I wanna be a hero

It's a nice-boy notion that the real world's gonna destroy
You know
It's a Marvel comic book Saturday matinee fairytale, boy

Growing older you'll find
That illusions are bought
And the idol you thought you'd be
Was just another zero

I wanna be a hero

Heroes died when the squealers bought 'em off
Died when the dealers got 'em off
Welcome to the "in it for the money as an idol" show

When they ain't as big as life
When they ditch their second wife
Where's the boy to go?

Gotta be a hero

It's a nice-boy notion that the real world's gonna destroy
You know
It's a Marvel comic book Saturday matinee fairytale, boy

When the house fell asleep
From a book I was led
To a light that I never knew
I wanna be your hero

And he spoke to my heart
From the moment I prayed
Here's a pattern I made for you
I wanna be your hero

Recorded Appearances

About The Song

From Clone Club News Flash Spring/Summer 1984, Spring/Summer 1984:

["Hero"] is the most personal song on the album. I remember as a boy I'd pull a book out from under my bedcovers after my parents had turned out the lights and read by streetlight outside my window. My favorite books were biographies of presidents or generals or kings and queens, but as I'd grow older and read more in-depth accounts, I'd discover that my heroes weren't all they were made out to be. Yet the more I read about Jesus, the more I realized that He was the one hero who wasn't going to disappoint me, and that I could pattern my life after Him.

From Who Does Not Want To Be a Clone?, Campus Life, January 1987:

"Hero" was one of the first songs that came out of a definite personal experience. When I was a kid, after my parents turned the lights off, I would read a book by the lights from outside my window. I was really into biographies--presidents, legends, things like that. I was always looking for heroes to pattern my life after. Yet as I grew up and started reading more in-depth accounts, these great people weren't always as great as I had first thought. It was a rude awakening for me. Yet, the opposite occurred with Jesus. The more I learned about him, the more I realized he was the person I could pattern my life after. Here was a hero who wasn't going to be a disappointment.

From Kansas City, MO, April 30th, 1988:

We forget what a radical guy Jesus was when he was around here. The truth is we try to water him down sometimes, we try to act like he wasn't the person that he was. When he came to this world he shook things up. He shook up the status quo.

One of the things that he did that really ticked people off is he would go and find the people with the worst reputations and start talking to them first. When I was growing up, reputation was a big thing. When I got older it became a bigger thing. We do some songs not everybody likes, and the people that don't like them sometimes they start writing about us, talking about us, word starts getting around, and pretty soon we're hearing things that we didn't even know we were capable of doing. Rumors are bad enough, but when they're not true, it's terrible.

So I'm thinking, "What are these guys doing? They're messing with my reputation. This is serious stuff. What are people going to think?" Reputation kind of became like an obessesion with me ever since I started doing music. Then last summer some stuff happened that kind of changed all that around.

We had the opportunity to go behind the Iron Curtain and do some concerts in Poland. It was a very unique opportunity. There's a guy in Poland who'd heard about us and wanted to bring us in to do some concerts. He didn't have the money to fly us over, so he went to the government and said, "Listen, I've got this band from the United States. I think we should bring them over and pay for their flight. I think it would be a good cultural exchange."

So the government says okay and they fixed up everything. It was the first time the government actually sponsored a group like us. Well they didn't know what they were getting into, and then a few weeks before we were scheduled to come over, they found out. They weren't amused at all.

They went to this guy and they started harrassing him. First they took away his passport, then they started making threats against him, and by the time we got over there, he was really on edge, right?

Well we set up, we do the first concert, and the Polish communist party officials came, saw what we were all about, and they didn't like it all. In fact, they didn't like it so much they promptly canceled a third concert. So instead of doing three, we only got to do two, and then they kind of run us out of his home.

During the time we were there a lot of good things happened. One of the things that happened is we got to know and love this brother of ours in Poland who put his neck out on the line because he believed in what we were doing.

Well we said goodbye to him and we got back here, and last October we got a phone call. The voice on the other end was real faint, real fuzzy. She told me she was calling from Poland and that she was an associate of our friend. Our friend had been thrown in jail for working with "dissident musicians."

The police had come, took him away in the night, stuck him away in a jail cell three stories underground, put him in with four hardened criminals. He hadn't seen the light of day since they put him in and now they were mistreating him, abusing him, most likely beating on him, but he wasn't allowed to talk about it, wouldn't allow him any visitors. Now they're underfeeding him, so they just give him bread and water and nothing else, so he was getting scurvy, he was losing his hair, his eyes were going.

She was telling me all this stuff and I said, "Well listen, we've got to do something. We'll get going, we'll talk to different organizations, we'll get get him out of there. We'll make a big deal about it."

She said, "Don't do it, any involvement from the West is only going to make things worse for him."

I said, "How could things get any worse?"

She said, "Now the police are going around to his friends, and they're bribing them to invent things about his reputation, to testify against him in court."

I was thinking it's kind of strange that I would be here in the United States, all obsessed with my reputation, while my buddy's over on the other side of the world rotting away in some jail cell.

Corinthians chapter two says, "may your attitude be the same as that of Jesus, who made himself of no reputation, took on the form of a servant, was made in the likeness of man, humbled himself, became obedient to death, even death on the cross." I'm thinking, maybe this stuff that I can't do anything about--now I know what Jesus was on when he was talking about reputation.

This next song has been misunderstood by some people--I think they think that I wrote it because I want to be God's hero or something like that, but the words say that, he, Jesus, spoke to my heart, from the moment I prayed, and said, here's a pattern I made for you, Steve, I want to be your hero. Your reputation isn't important, you just try to be like me. I guess the reason we sing this song at our concerts is a lot to remind me, so this is a song that is dedicated to my hero, the same hero that got out of jail three weeks ago.

From Now The Truth Can Be Told Liner Notes & Song-By-Song Essays, Now The Truth Can Be Told Insert Booklet, August 23rd, 1994:

And sometimes, by the grace of God, we get it right. My eyes went bad at an early age from all the books I read late at night using the streetlamp outside my bedroom window (this wouldn't have happened if I'd watched more television...). Biographies were a favorite, but the accounts I'd read at age nine didn't necessarily tell the whole unvarnished story. The more I'd read, the more my heroes (except for maybe Abraham Lincoln) tended to shrink in stature, eventually causing my adolescent psyche no small amount of post- Watergate disillusionment ("Dad, what does 'expletive deleted' mean?").

Role models may vary in quality and consistency, but all are ultimately born to disappoint. Jesus is the only hero worth having.