Interpretations:John Lee Supertaster

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In a website about programs for gifted children, I stumbled across a poem by Pearl Buck and was struck immediately by its similarity to "John Lee Supertaster":

The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this:

A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive.

To him...

A touch is a blow,

A sound is a noise,

A misfortune is a tragedy,

A joy is an ecstasy,

A friend is a lover,

A lover is a god,

And failure is death...

Without meaning to beat anybody over the head with this, I'd like to point out how this is echoed in so many lines of the song:

  • "... people walking among us who have super powers. These people are called Supertasters." Well, obviously gifted kids don't have super powers, but the analogy is close enough.
  • "To a Supertaster, bitter fruits taste far more bitter, and sweets far more sweet....

When he tastes a pear (tastes a pear)/It's like a hundred pears (it's like a million pears)."

  • "John Lee Supertaster/Tastes more than we do/Everything has a flavor/Some flavors are too much."
  • "Can't shut his mouth (can't shut his mouth)/'Cause he's a Supertaster (Supertaster)/Though he looks like a man (talks like a man)/He is a Supertaster (Supertaster)."
  • "John Lee Supertaster/Tastes more than we know/Everything has a flavor/Some flavors must go."

My kid's teacher sums it up by saying "Gifted children have special needs." And it's true. They're not just annoying Poindexters who tick people off by being too smart. They can be very difficult to handle, averse to schoolwork or studying, hypersensitive, and, as kids, need to be dealt with in a specialized way. Their minds sometimes seem very chaotic, with zillions of thoughts and ideas whirling around, looking for a place to come out and be useful. "Some flavors must go."

I decided long ago that "gifted" isn't really a compliment -- it's a diagnosis. John Lee might have a "gift," but is it worth the hypersensitivity?

Also, I've got a gifted kid, and both the poem *and* the song provide a dead-on description. I was considered a gifted kid, too, and though I didn't really suffer from Supertasterism, I thought "gifted" was a huge overstatement -- and the kind of thing that could cause grief in social settings.

So "gifted" often isn't something you wanna brag about -- the "gift" can be a white elephant, and yet exactly the kind of circumstance in which no one will feel sorry for you or understand the problems, any more than they would with people who are "too rich" or "too gorgeous."

Anyway, you don't feel so gifted when you're an adult, working in a joe-job while classmates are doctors and, literally, rocket scientists.


I think it's alot more simple than that. Supertasters are people who have more tastebuds than most (explained here ). I think they just heard the word and thought it sounded kinda superhero-like, and they thought kids would like the idea of a superhero taster person. Though of course it's not really a super power, cos it means that you can't eat certain foods cos they taste far too bitter.


The bit I think is funny is "Can't shut his mouth/'Cause he's a supertaster". John Lee won't stop talking about the experience of being a supertaster.

  • I just thought it meant that he had to eat with his mouth open, otherwise the concentration of flavour would overpower him... - Chris K.
  • I thought it meant that he went around with his mouth open 'cause he wanted to taste the air or something like that...- Madeline

My assumption is that the song is mocking the idea of superheroes - "He's got superpowers He is a Supertaster" As being a supertaster isn't a 'super power' at all, but more of a disadvantage. I guess the song is more mocking the word 'supertaster', as it suggests such powers. - AtkinsSJ


This is a song about a man who's smoked weed and has eaten. Am I the only one that sees this? I've had this experience where the flavor "explodes and explodes" in my mouth. I tried coffee once when I was high and it was the most disgusting thing I ever tasted. That taste stayed in my mouth for what seemed like days. Also, sometimes when people are too high they have trouble shutting their mouths willingly.

C'mon, guys!