Picture this: 3 Doors Down lead singer/songwriter Brad Arnold at 15 years old, sitting in math class bored out of his skull, begins tapping on his desk. The tapping turns into drumming, and pretty soon he's unknowingly written the first monster hit for his future band.
He laughs at the memory: "Thank God for the little dude that sat in front of me, that dude deserves credit on the album! I was so bad in math. So bad. But my teacher knew I was not good, not paying attention, but he just kind of let me go. I believe I wrote the lyrics to some other songs in that same class. I wrote probably about half of that Better Life album sitting in that math class."
This song is also, according to Arnold, only the 3rd or 4th song he'd ever written, period. "The skippy little drumbeat in the song was just me beating on my desk. It's almost exactly the beat we played to, just kind of drumming, just skipping along with it."
Brad says this song is a question. As it turns out, it was a rather prophetic one. "Its question is kind of a strange one. It's not just asking, 'If I fall down, will you be there for me?' Because it's easy to be there for someone when they're down. But it's not always easy to be there for somebody when they're doing good. And that's the question it's asking. It's like, 'If I go crazy, will you still call me Superman?' It's asking, 'If I'm down, will you still be there for me?' But at the same time, 'If I'm alive and well, will you be there holding my hand?' That's kind of asking, 'If I'm doing good, will you be there for me? Will you not be jealous of me?' And maybe throughout the years of singing that song, I might have come up with more meanings for it than it actually might have originally had," he laughs.
The fact that he wrote this song when he was only 15 doesn't seem remarkable to Brad, because, he says, "every 15-year-old has those questions in their head. They might not know quite how to say it, or they might not feel like it's acceptable to say something. And the biggest thing that I've had as an honor to be able to do is to be able to say something, and after I say it, it's okay. After an artist says it, if a rock star says it, okay, it's fine. That really boils down to why rock and roll inspires pop culture so much, or just music in general, not just rock and roll. Because artists push the envelope, and they go out on a limb to say something else. But it also comes with responsibility; you gotta watch what you say, because kids listen. And I try to watch what I say, too."
Commonly thought to contain a shout out to the movie Superman ("Kryptonite" is the substance that rendered Superman powerless - it could only be found on his home planet of Krypton), and to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, Brad says this song has neither. He explains how it all came together: "That line is just like a happenstance line. That song is so little about Superman. It's just really about that question. That's just something that everybody can identify with." He says that it was either Part I or II of the Superman movies that had Superman fighting an enemy in space, where they floated around to the dark side of the moon. He says, however, that he wrote this song before the movie came out. "And I was like, 'What?!' he laughs. "And it was after I wrote that song. That was weird." (Check out our full interview with Brad Arnold)
In an interview with askmen.com, bassist Todd Harrell explained that the band's name came from a sign in a building. It was saying about how some office was "doors down," and they added the number three to make it a catchy name.