Sunday, September 10, 2006

9-11 Remembered with Superman's John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting

Tomorrow marks 5 years since the horrific events we now refer to as simply "9-11" for the ironic date it happened. For many of us, music was where we turned for strength.

One little song rose as an anthem of sorts for the firefighters and other first responders in New York. It was "Superman" by John Ondrasik or, as he is more widely known, Five For Fighting.

John is a dear friend of mine. I happened upon a copy of his first album, "Message for Albert" while I was writing for the now-defunct music trade magazine, Album Network. I pissed off the powers that be at his then-label, EMI, for writing about this unknown and non-priority record instead of the Queensryche tripe they were pushing. It turned out not to matter either way, as the label folded before any other than a small few had heard "...Albert". But in championing the record, I made a new friend.

Fast forward a few years, and John had put together a demo of a few songs, and was signed by the small, but burgeoning, Aware Records. After I received an advance copy of what would eventually be released as "America Town," I remember leaving a message on John's answering machine that said something to the effect of "Superman is one of the best songs ever written."

Luckily for me, when the album was released, I was Music Director of Channel 103.1 in Los Angeles, and was the first, anywhere, to play "Superman" on the radio. It went on to become a hit... but, as I said before, took on new meaning after the events of 9-11-01, when the firefighters took some strength and comfort from it.

So, as we approach the 5th anniversary of that day, I thought it fitting to call my old friend, John Ondrasik, and look back. You can subscribe to the podcast, or listen to it here.

I will not play the song "Superman" in this podcast, as I just can't afford the licensing fees (although John would have no problem, but that's another story), so I'll invite you to find it on iTunes or your local record store and listen again!


Anonymous said...

Late last night, I was ripping tracks from "The Concert For NYC" and into our automation for one of my morning shows to use 9/11 - and came across Five For Fighting's live version of Superman. In my note to them about where to find the music, I left a note for them saying that if there's one song they need to play, it was that one.

Just a great song - great performance - and the performance sounds as good today as it did back in October of 2001.

-dan kelley
lansing, mi

Anonymous said...

I don't listen to radio much, so I have to find other ways to hear music and find new artists. I heard part of "The Riddle" and rushed to login to my Rhapsody Account. I just finished listening to the "Two Lights" album and I have to say I will be going out tomorrow and buying this record (and a copy for my friend Nikki who just had a baby!). I've read some harsh reviews of it and for the life of me I can't figure out why. "The Riddle" and "Freedom Never Cries" will be two songs I play till I'm covered by the good earth. Someone said the songs didn't say much that other songs haven't already said. What? That's true about everything written! It's the soul and the emotion and the choosing of words that make a song or any writting least that is so fo me. I hope you tell your friend that some of us out here do actually hear what's being said. And it's wonderful.

John Couch,
Lake Wylie, SC