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Please Tell Me Who I Am: The Genius of Supertramp

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." --Dr. Seuss

"The most damaging phrase in the language is: 'It's always been done that way.'"  --Grace Hopper


The title of this article is taken from the chorus of the song entitled, “The Logical Song” by Rick Davies and Roger Hodgson of the rock group Supertramp. It was one of those songs that hit me like a ton of bricks.

Here is a song that clearly questions conformity. Why can’t we be ourselves? Why do we have to follow the status quo? Are we afraid of being ridiculed?

“The Logical Song” also ventures down the philosophical and spiritual road. “What have we learned?” “Who am I?” These are questions that every conscious being will have to make someday in his or her life journey.

The first verse begins with Roger Hodgson describing, in an autobiographic fashion, what it is like to be a child:

“When I was young, it seemed that life was so wonderful,

a miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical.

And all the birds in the trees, well they’d be singing so happily,

joyfully, playfully watching me.”

Then something happens to this magic. We are forced to grow up. We forget about the simplicity of childhood. Instead, we complicate our life and become slaves to the system. Let’s continue with the first verse:

“But then they send me away to teach me how to be sensible,

logical, responsible, practical.

And they showed me a world where I could be so dependable,

clinical, intellectual, cynical.”

Of course, it makes sense to teach responsibilities to a child; however, we should not kill the creativity and imagination of the child. In fact, Einstein said that “imagination is more important than knowledge.” However, most individuals that reach adolescence seem to have abandoned their imagination. “Just tell me what to say.”

And if we do reach a point of being cynical, I think this is clear sign that we are not happy with life. Perhaps, there is a part of us that wants to experience the freedom of being a kid.


My favorite part of the song is the chorus. It asks the really deep questions about life. We are no longer biological machines that can be conformed until we drop. Instead, we are deep philosophical spiritual beings that want answers to our questions. Now, let’s take a look at the chorus:

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“There are times when all the world’s asleep,

the questions run too deep

for such a simple man.

Won’t you please, please tell me what we’ve learned

I know it sounds absurd

but please tell me who I am.”

In this chorus, I see a person finally waking up. He is now consciously aware of his responsibility in life. You can clearly see that in the line: “Won’t you please, please tell me what we’ve learned.” It is very important for this person to grow in life. It doesn’t make sense to keep making the same mistakes over and over again. What can we learn from history?

The last line in the song, “I know it sounds absurd but please tell me who I am” is the ultimate spiritual question. We all want to know our place in this world. This gives our life purpose and meaning. Without it, we are like a rudderless boat that wanders the world haphazardly.

The second verse of the song takes a look at what happens if you do not conform. Let’s see what it says:

“Now watch what you say or they’ll be calling you a radical,

liberal, fanatical, criminal.

Won’t you sign up your name, we’d like to feel you’re

acceptable, respectable, presentable, a vegetable!”

It seems that if you do not conform you will be ridiculed. You will be called every bad name under the sun. And since most people want to fit in, they will most likely succumb to the conformity.

This is a shame, because real change cannot happen if we keep following the crowd. If it is something that is against our own ethical code, we should not follow it. We have to be true to ourselves.

Listen to the wisdom of your soul.



Terry Fatland (author) from Virginia on August 20, 2015:

somethgblue, thanks for sharing your thoughts and sharing the song lyrics to Goodbye Stranger. Great song! I will have look at the lyrics closely.

somethgblue from Shelbyville, Tennessee on August 19, 2015:

Of course the song that proceeds that one on the album (oops, just dated myself, CD) is Goodbye Stranger and has just as poignant lyrics, in fact the whole album is KA .

Goodbye stranger it's been nice

Hope you find your paradise

Tried to see your point of view

Hope your dreams will all come true

Goodbye Mary, goodbye Jane

Will we ever meet again

Feel no sorrow, feel no shame

Come tomorrow, feel no pain

Could he be talking about giving up marijuana? Taking a different path.

Good article, you have just made a new fan.

Terry Fatland (author) from Virginia on July 08, 2015:

fpherj48, thank you very much for sharing your thoughts. It is quite amazing how when you really look at a song deeply that the song can open your eyes. It did that for me. I'm glad it taught you a lesson and woke you up. Thanks for voting it up and for tweeting. I greatly appreciate that.

Suzie from Carson City on June 09, 2015:

Terry.......I knew there was a reason why I liked this song so many years ago. As I read your hub, I knew I wanted to hear this song, so I searched on YouTube. It astounds me how I can hear a song and remember it well, yet not really having made note of the Title nor fully understood the lyrics.........then suddenly it's a whole brand new song. Of course I knew this song, I loved it, I sang it.

Thanks so much for this. You've taught me quite a lesson and I'm glad you woke me up!!...UP+++tweeted

Terry Fatland (author) from Virginia on August 07, 2014:

bluebird, thank you so kindly. It was my pleasure to write this hub. This song is very powerful to me. Very few songs dare to ask potent questions about life. It is very sad that many are afraid to be their unique self and fall victim to the conformity game. I totally agree that we must stay true to our self. I like this group as well and also enjoy the music of the 70s. And by the way, I like the name "bluebird." That's a cool name.

bluebird on August 07, 2014:

I appreciate this hub and how you went about explaining what the song is really all about. Conformity to this world's norms will get us nowhere. Because if we don't stand for something, we'll fall for anything. Look at the world around you, it's getting worse every day. Stay true to yourself! Thanks for sharing all this here on your wonderful hub.

P.S. I also like the group and that song of the 70s, my favorite era for songs.

Terry Fatland (author) from Virginia on January 07, 2012:

Thank you epigramman. I'm glad you enjoyed this hub. I resonated with this song. The lyrics spoke to my soul. I wasn't aware of the fact that Supertramp was the group that put out this amazing song until a few years ago.

That's wonderful that you got to see the group before they got big. I know that Roger Hudgson is playing a show in southern California very soon.

Thank you very much for posting this to your facebook page. Riverside, California 2:24pm.

epigramman on January 07, 2012:

...great hub subject Terry and lovely dissection/analysis of their music and words - let me post this one too to my Facebook page with a direct link back here and I had the pleasure of seeing Supertramp years ago in a relatively small hall before they got really big on their Crisis what crisis? tour - I believe it was 1975 .......lake erie time ontario canada 4:19pm

Terry Fatland (author) from Virginia on December 31, 2010:

Thank you, Ray, for commenting. I was always moved when I heard the song on the radio, and I thought to myself, I have to write about this song. "The Logical Song" offers the world vital wisdom that is very much needed in this fast-paced, I-got-to-have-it society. The Dr. Seuss quote came about through a web search for quotes about noncomformity. The quote resonated with me. I thought it would complement my article. I always hope that the quotes I choose will strengthen my message. As far as synchronicities go, I believe that nothing happens by accident. There are many times that these synchronistic events are so powerful that our jaws literally drop. "How can that be possible?" I smile and thank the universe. I think it is extremely important to share our wisdom, insight, and beauty to the world. If not, who will? I greatly appreciate your posting my post on fb. It's an honor to know that I've connected with someone through my writing. Again, thank you for taking the time to comment.

L. Ray Haynes from the biosphere on December 31, 2010:

You break it down so succinctly. I'm glad you posted this Terry, my sister and I long ago(in adolescence) commented on the truth in this song to each other and it remains influential to me to this day. I was especially surprised to see the quote at the top from Dr. Seuss! Siriusly, I've had that quote on my facebook page for months. I was working a gig in a house and that was written on the door of one the bedrooms! I lifted it and posted it immediately. The synchronicity of it being at the top of your hub freaked me out for a second. I thought, "did he lift that from my? it's not on my hubpage...he must have brought it forward from his own awareness in relation to this would he know that I have it posted permanantly on my fb profile?" While some call it 'coincidence', I prefer 'co-incIdence(or 'synchronus anomalus') Regardless, that quote speaks volumes to the topic at hand. Just for that I'm going to share your post on fb!

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