‘A Real Hero’ by College feat. Electric Youth

This month’s recommendation #2, from 2011.  It’s a great song in and of itself, but most people probably know it from the key scene to the film Drive.

I didn’t think I’d like Drive before I saw it, and I bet I’m not alone in that.  A getaway driver, Ryan Gosling, in a 1980s theme park Los Angeles who only works for 5 minutes at a time (seriously? how does he get work?)  Who bludgeons people to death to chastely protect his sweetheart Carey Mulligan.  It all sounded to me like some male film school student’s first really annoying film.  And it all turns out to be very entertaining, and well thought through.  Sure, it’s a bit daft, but fun.

And then this scene comes along, where he takes lonely Carey Mulligan and her kid out for the day, and this song underscores it.  It’s a beautiful beautiful scene because it’s so understated.  Not much happens.  They drive around, they sit by a point.  But, thanks to some great filmmaking, there’s somehow some magic about this day out.  And this character who I thought was going to be some psychopathic riff on Shane actually turns out to be a real human being.  And under it the lines “And you… have proved… to be… a real human being.  And a real hero.”

But I found the song all the more interesting when I learnt it was about Captain Chesley Sullenberger, pilot of the ‘miracle on the Hudson‘.  The trailers are out for the new Tom Hanks film about this, which is probably why I revisited the song and thought it worth a recommendation.

But again, I think you can forget all of that and it’s just a great pop song.  In fact, I think this is a good example of what a really great pop song looks like.  There are so few moving parts: not much melody, not much chord changing, not many lyrics… but so much implied emotion.  Just like that day trip driving around.  Somehow, there’s just a bit of underlying magic.