Here in the US over the coming weeks, you’re bound to see amazing highlight reels of some previously-unknown college hoop player who hits an amazing shot to win a game. These young men vault to hero status for the school fan-bases, but also for young, aspiring players everywhere. This recently got me thinking about my own “heroes” as a young boy.
My first hero was “Shazam” (also known as “Captain Marvel”). I was only 4 or 5 when I remember playing with the action figure. I didn’t know much about his story, but he had a bright red suit with a yellow lightning bolt on his chest. My Shazam action figure had dark skin, dark hair and brown eyes – which may explain my initial fascination since I had similar physical features.
I remember creating elaborate stories of Shazam – he’d be faced with overwhelming odds, surrounded by bad guys, imminent death… but no matter how dire the situation, I’d say “Shazam!” and he’d gain the super-human strength to overcome anything.
When Star Wars came out in 1977, my new hero was Luke Skywalker. From humble beginnings, Luke overcomes amazing odds to save the Universe from the “bad guys” (storyline sound familiar?). Of course, Luke himself had to learn about “the force” and transform before he was able to achieve such amazing feats.
During my last album project, I enjoyed studying why these characters were so appealing to me. I came across “The Hero’s Journey” – as described by Joseph Campbell. It explains why certain story lines are so compelling. The story goes something like this (excuse the brevity – full description here): Character born in humble beginnings… there’s a call to adventure… must cross a threshold (start of transformation).. meets a mentor who helps them on their journey, gains some new skill or power, becomes a savior/champion.
Once you think about this process, other characters and stories quickly come to mind: Harry Potter; Frodo (Lord of the Rings); The Matrix; Greek Mythology; (can you think of more?) – each one of these stories follows the Hero’s Journey.
I believe we all go through our own version of the Hero’s Journey, and it was this “hero process” which was the inspiration for my last album – “Transitions“. If you haven’t heard the music or read the back-story, please visit the link!
Who are some of your heroes?
Have they changed since you were a child? In what ways?
Please share your own experiences by commenting below.