May 8, 2007


Fighting for Freedom: John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting speaks his mind. (John J. Miller, 5/06/07, National Review)

Nothing about Five for Fighting is what you would expect, starting with the name. It comes from hockey, indicating a five-minute major penalty for fisticuffs, and it would be a perfect moniker for a hard-charging punk-rock band. Yet the group’s songs tend toward piano-driven, lump-in-the-throat ballads, such as “100 Years” and “The Riddle.” Moreover, Five for Fighting isn’t really a group so much as a pseudonym for singer-songwriter John Ondrasik. In concert, there aren’t even five musicians on stage. The quintet is a quartet: just Ondrasik and three others. Is the fifth guy in the penalty box?

And one other thing: The title song on the latest Five for Fighting album, Two Lights, was inspired by a lunch with NRO columnist Victor Davis Hanson. In the history of rock music, surely this is some kind of first. [...]

Songs such as “NYC Weather Report” and “Johnny America” are best understood through the prism of 9/11. “That day made us aware that the world is not how we would like it to be,” says Ondrasik. “It’s not a liberal-conservative thing. It’s about having a world that’s safe for our kids.”

For Ondrasik, that means taking a clear-eyed look at America’s enemies. In “Freedom Never Cries,” which opened Friday night’s concert, Ondrasik sings:

I saw a man on the TV
In a mask with a gun
A man on the TV
He had a 10-year old son
I saw a man on the TV
His son had a gun
He says that he’s coming for me.

“The war trumps everything,” says Ondrasik. “We face a worldwide threat from Islamic terrorism. The obligation of the singer-songwriter is to say what he believes, and if we can’t have a conversation about the radical Islamic threat then we’re in trouble.”

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 8, 2007 12:00 AM

I consider his "Superman" one of the best things I've ever heard.

Posted by: Mike Morley at May 8, 2007 8:21 AM

That's really interesting. I thought the "Freedom Never Cries" song was actual a lefty song about the supposed desecration of our freedoms under the Bush regime. I liked it despite of that (because it made other points, as cited above), but it's good to know that it's not the liberal claptrap that I thought it was.

Posted by: R. Alex at May 8, 2007 8:30 AM