The Sound Cafe
Jenny Biddle: Hero In Me - The Story Behind The Songs
Foreword by Stevie Connor:
"As a long time fan of Australian Singer-Songwriter Jenny Biddle, I've always been struck by the honesty in her songwriting, her extraordinary talent as a musician, and her bravery. We've had interactions over the past couple of years from her home-base in Scotland, and when I realized her third album 'Hero In Me' was going to be ten years old this year, and that Jenny was thinking of telling the story about how the songs came to be, I asked her if she would be willing to share all the behind the scenes stories and images with The Sound Café readership, I was thrilled when she agreed to do so.
I know our readers are going to find this series of 12 articles fascinating, from budding songwriters, to established performers, fans of Jenny and soon to be fans. I encourage you to check out her patreon page, and website, links below. Thank you Jenny, you are an inspiration"
Hero In Me by Jenny Biddle.
This year marks 10 YEARS since I released my third album “Hero in Me”. 10 YEARS!
To celebrate, each month I’m picking a track from the album and sharing with The Sound Café anything from the story behind the song, to photos, videos, recordings, songwriting tips, re-makes, guitar chords, riffs, or other secrets to delve a little deeper into the album.
And what a better place to start than with the opening track, the title “Hero in Me”.
HERO IN ME (Track 1)
I could write a book about this song. It’s a hugely pivotal song in my songwriting journey, as it’s my “coming out” song. Before “Hero in Me”, I hid meaning in ambiguous song lyrics (God knows what I was singing about in the first two albums!) I didn’t want anyone knowing I was gay, and yet needed an outlet for some complicated feelings and realities. Songwriting became the place to express myself.
It was 2010 when I moved to a new city, cut old ties, started to live out of the closet, and began to find people who accepted me as I was. I fell in love and wanted to walk hand-in-hand, side-by-side with my love through the streets of Melbourne. Hiding became the harder choice.
I wanted to write a song that depicted the darker times of growing up knowing I was “different”, and yet wanted the song to be courageous and as uplifting as my new-found love-high. So I began to lean on my story-telling quirks... and a song was born.
Singing “Hero in Me” live became a whole other emotional hurdle. I used to just… sing it… with no introduction, mumbling the words, hoping no one would notice (cos as someone once told me “who listens to lyrics anyway?”).
But gradually I introduced “Hero in Me” as my “coming out” song, and for better or worse, people seemed to pay closer attention. Every single time I went to play this song on stage, I had to force myself through an invisible wall of fear. I had anticipated this song would ruin my career, and that fans would abandon me because I was a lesbian. But each and every time, I would still choose to push through the wall of fear, announce the song, play it, and swiftly move onto the next song. The courage to sing the song and keep singing the song, came from the memory of dark, lonely days as a teenager, and the ache to find belonging.
Back then I thought I was the only gay in the world (apart from Ellen, who seemed unparalleled!), and my hope was that if I sang this song live, other people in the LGBT community wouldn’t feel so alone too.
What I found was that people from all walks of life fell in love with this song. It sings of the essence of love, and I guess now I see it speaks for all of us and our need for genuine connection. It has since become one of my most popular songs out of 8 albums, and features on lyric tea towels!
Hero in Me Video Clip:
Video Clip… Awkward Moments:
Taking the song to a whole new level was the creation of an official music video for Hero in Me (cos if I was coming out, I was REALLY coming out!). Rebecca Greensill (known for her work on Home & Away) scripted and directed the video clip. Under a tight budget (and tight pants!) friends and family took part, and gallivanted around parts of Sydney to film, witnessing the odd awkward moment here and there…
Most memorably (and unflatteringly) was my superman costume. As self-conscious as I am, being on camera wearing Lyrca, with lumps in all the wrong places, took it all to a new level of awkward. There’s a scene in the video where I burst out of a door, dressed in the full superman suit, roaring to go with super confidence, my cape flapping in the breeze. We must have done the take 86 times due to a lack of “super confidence”. Each time I came out terribly timidly, trying to hide my Lycra lumps and Bec would yell “CUT! DO IT AGAIN!” And again I’d try to come out the door with confidence… and all I could think of was… lumps. She said “You’ve just got to own it! You’re the super hero! Just own it!” On the 85th take, I burst out with all the confidence I could muster for a heroic take! At that point, a film assistant turned on an industrial-sized fan out of camera shot, and it was meant blow my cape invincibly in the breeze. There I was standing in a power pose, dressed in Lyrca, waiting for the fan to gather enough gusto to move my cape. The song was over by the time the fan got my cape blowing in it’s manufactured breeze. “CUT!” yelled Bec, “DO IT AGAIN!”
On the 86th take, the fan was turned on BEFORE I came bursting through the door, with all my confidence, to finally capture the almighty scene of the film!
A new verse! A sequel!
At the end of 2017, Australia had a vote asking whether same-sex marriage should be legalised. 62% said yes, and marriage equality began in early 2018. I decided to add a fifth verse to my coming out song to create the "Hero in You Sequel". I've attached the full lyrics below!
Hero in You Sequel (Youtube video):
Guitar Tuning: CGCFCE (capo 8)
I used a whacky tuning for this song and have no idea how on earth I came up with it or found it. The tuning is CGCFCE with the capo on fret 8, which makes the song in Ab (who would choose that?!). I made the capo quite high and the tuning in a major key so the song would lend itself to an uplifting feel. One day I will attempt to TAB the guitar out for this, but for now, it remains a mystery to even me as to what my fingers are actually doing!
To add this song to your Spotify playlist, here are the links: Version 1 - full band, studio version (2013): open.spotify.com/track Version 2 - sequel with added verse (2017): open.spotify.com/track
What a song to start with! I hope you’ve enjoyed these reflections of Hero in Me.
You can read more about my songs, learn guitar tricks and songwriting tips on my Patreon page: www.patreon.com/jennybiddle
When I was 4 years old I ran around the yard In a red cape, a blue suit, I was Superman at heart Saving all the dolls from the evil world They were my Lois, they were my pretty girls
There’s a hero deep inside of me
At 8 years of age cops and robbers was the game I ran around the schoolyard putting all the bad boys in the jail A soldier, a warrior could always impress I was fighting the good fight to find my princess
There’s a hero deep inside of me Be my lady and your hero I’ll be
Sweet 16, no it wasn’t so sweet I realised that the girls were looking at the boys and not me Romeo won’t you go, I just wanna hold their hand To keep them safe from harm, but the girls had other plans
There’s a hero deep inside of me Be my lady and your hero I’ll be
But suddenly she comes for me, she pulls me to her light She wraps her arms around me, now she keeps me by her side She calms my troubled water, she’s keeping me at bay Oh how she’s saving me from my every day
There’s my lady saving me Be my lady the hero I need
When I was 32 they held a plebiscite For several months we waited for Australia to decide If husbands could have husbands and wives could have wives 62% of you decided it was fine
There’s a hero deep inside of you You’re my hero for making dreams come true There’s a hero deep inside of you You’re my hero…… 62% of you
Song written by Jenny Biddle Recorded, Mixed & Produced by Sean Carey at Trackdown Studios, Camperdown, NSW, Australia 2012 Mastered by Don Bartley, Blaxland, NSW, Australia Album Art by Katrina Leighton Album Photograph by Raditya Fadilla Released 2013 Other Photos by Sophie Greensill
Jenny Biddle: vocals, acoustic guitar, mandolin Sean Carey: bass, electric guitar Michael Quigley: drums Beau Golden: piano Jason Walker: pedal steel
Jenny Biddle is an Australian, Folk, Blues & Roots musician, she is a well seasoned guitarist, witty storyteller, poignant songwriter and winner of the Blues & Roots Radio International Song Contest 2020. Jenny fashions an infectious mix of down to earth modern folk for the wandering soul. Her 8th album 'Hoping For A Hero' is out now..