O Superman. O judge. O Mom and Dad. Mom and Dad.
O Superman. O judge. O Mom and Dad. Mom and Dad.
Hi. I'm not home right now. But if you want to leave a
message, just start talking at the sound of the tone.
Hello? This is your Mother. Are you there? Are you
coming home?
Hello? Is anybody home? Well, you don't know me,
but I know you.
And I've got a message to give to you.
Here come the planes.
So you better get ready. Ready to go. You can come
as you are, but pay as you go. Pay as you go.

And I said: OK. Who is this really? And the voice said:
This is the hand, the hand that takes. This is the
hand, the hand that takes.
This is the hand, the hand that takes.
Here come the planes.
They're American planes. Made in America.
Smoking or non-smoking?
And the voice said: Neither snow nor rain nor gloom
of night shall stay these couriers from the swift
completion of their appointed rounds.

'Cause when love is gone, there's always justice.
And when justice is gone, there's always force.
And when force is gone, there's always Mom. Hi Mom!

So hold me, Mom, in your long arms. So hold me,
Mom, in your long arms.
In your automatic arms. Your electronic arms.
In your arms.
So hold me, Mom, in your long arms.
Your petrochemical arms. Your military arms.
In your electronic arms.


Lyrics submitted by pumkinhed

O Superman (For Massenet) song meanings
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18 Comments

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  • +5
    General CommentWhen she says, "This is the hand, the hand that takes" it creeps me out. Just the thought of talking on the phone with God or Death or something like that is eerie.
    judyg13on March 19, 2009   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI'm surprised nobody has pointed this out yet. The title of this song is a (very) loose translation of the aria "O Souverain, o juge, o père" from Jules Massenet's opera "Le Cid". The original title means "O sovereign, O judge, O father", and it is a prayer sung by the hero as he is about to go into battle against overwhelming odds. I don't think I see that exact theme in "O Superman", but there is definitely the feel of the military-industrial complex.
    Nyneve922on February 02, 2010   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI have loved this song for years ever since I heard it on the old Night Flights before it sold out. All the people she sings about are authority figures. Mom and dad, the judge, the pilot, the postman. The postman might be a stretch, but I think it is authority figures to a child.
    docthanatoson May 05, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI believe the cliche is "eerily prescient."

    There are ghosts of future planes in this song, recorded in 1990, part of her Live in America concent/performence art tour a couple of years earlier than even that.

    Also, the foreshadowing of the first stirrings of the rough beast of techno-militaristic fascism, and the seemingly inexorable logic of its ascendency.

    And cool vocorder sounds.
    amoebiuson January 03, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIn fact, David Bowie just standing around is far more profound than most entire musical careers. But I digress...

    I saw Laurie perform this in a tiny theater about 5 days after Sept. 11, in Boston. I think the theater at Harvard. When she got to 'here come the planes', I think the majority of listeners were overcome emotionally. I cried for the rest of the song. Never thought I would hear that song that way, and I can't listen to it now....

    I wonder if she knows that she's a prophet? I'm sure she understands that she's at least a genius.
    rainwalkon March 22, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI love that the rather deep "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds" is the motto of the US Postal Service. Not being American, I've only just found that out.

    But I agree 100% with those for whom "here comes the planes" has a chilling edge now. I like this song and I like people who like it as well.
    uffyon August 04, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is obviously about War

    'Cause when love is gone, there's always justice.
    And when justice is gone, there's always force.


    This is a nation that is running the world and destroying it at the same time, Here come the planes, they're American planes....has this more to do with America going to war...with other countries for resources like Electronics/Petrochemical....OIL

    Mom, in your long arms.
    In your automatic arms. Your electronic arms.
    In your arms.
    So hold me, Mom, in your long arms.
    Your petrochemical arms. Your military arms.
    In your electronic arms.


    Its about War and Greed

    This is the hand, the hand that takes. This is the
    hand, the hand that takes.

    melkahlon November 19, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentNot being a very deep person, I take a simplistic view on this song. No doubt it's beautiful, but I definately think that it's about death, ("The hand that takes"), adversity and struggle ("'Cause when love is gone, there's always justice. And when justice is gone, there's always force.And when force is gone, there's always Mom. Hi Mom!"). Definately one of the most profound and beautiful songs ever.

    RikrokUKon December 08, 2011   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationI think this song is about war and how we cannot actually stop it no matter what we do. Neither Superman, the Judge or our Mum and Dad can stop war.
    thekingofloveon April 25, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentJust a note, she performed this song live with David Bowie once... I'm not sure exactly what part he played though. Eh, he could've stood around being awesome. He's cool like that.
    ashre_ashreon January 29, 2006   Link

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