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Five For Fighting

Posted in MusicWorld on November 24, 2001 by

In the mournful wake of September 11, 2001, the mysterious California band known as Five For Fighting has deservedly rocketed from obscurity to pop renown. Fortunately for music lovers worldwide, the band's timing couldn't have been better.

The saga begins in summer, 2001. Five For Fighting was already making inroads at radio and VH1 with its acclaimed concept album American Town and its emotional single and music video, "Superman (It's Not Easy)." Miles removed from the chest-pounding bravado of teen-pop and rage-rock, "Superman" was introspective and modest in the most flattering sense of the term.

Then came the September 11 terrorist attacks on America that forever transformed world politics. While radio programmers altered their playlists to reflect the suddenly introspective mood of the nation, "Superman" was that rare single that required no apologies or explanations. In fact, the song's healing lyrics seemed entirely appropriate. Featuring the heartrending sentiment "even heroes have the right to bleed," the single articulated the pain and emotional vulnerability of a wounded nation.

For all intents and purposes, Five For Fighting is an alias for singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist John Ondrasik. Born and raised in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles, Ondrasik began his music studies at age two under the direction of his piano teacher mother. His introduction to sports came later, hence the name Five For Fighting. The moniker is derived from a hockey term: five minutes in the penalty box for fighting.

The group's pugnacious name is ironic, considering their blend of pop, rock, folk and even classical. It's that combination of influences that gives "Superman" its credibility. As Ondrasik explained recently: " 'Superman' is about humanity, the desire to belong, and the desperate need - and sometime inability - to feel. We all try to be Superman, but sometimes that's very hard, very disappointing, and we tend to lose the humanity in ourselves."