Though he likes to “fancy myself a rock guy,” Five For Fighting’s John Ondrasik is also quite happy to take his songs on the road himself, performing one-man shows that give him the ability to talk about the music as well as play it.
“For me as a fan, my favorite way to see one of my favorite songwriters is exactly this way, whether it’s James Taylor with a guitar or Elton John at a piano,” says the California-born Ondrasik, 42, who’s best known for the hits “Superman (It’s Not Easy)” and “100 Years.” “There’s nothing to hide behind when you do it this way, y’know? You’re at the free-throw line, down by two (points) with two seconds to go, and you’re alone.
“I also enjoy talking about the context of the songs, which you can’t really do in the full-band show, where people are running around and screaming. You can do some of that, but not the five- or 10-minute stories that makes ‘Storytellers’ so compelling.”
Ondrasik certainly has quite a bit to talk about — not just his past hits but also songs from the latest Five For Fighting album, “Slice.” Those include the title track, which uses “American Pie” to recall the bygone days when an entire nation would be “singing the same song,” as well as the first single, “Chances,” which Ondrasik took out of the film “2012” in order to have it used as the end-credit song for “The Blind Side.”
“Everybody was telling me, ‘Be aware this is a little indie film. We don’t have many expectations for it,’” Ondrasik recalls with a laugh. “Nobody had any idea it would become what it is — the biggest sports movie ever, bigger than ‘Rocky.’
“That’s a real highlight to know that for the next 20 years or so people will see the song in that film. My grandkids will see it. That means a lot.”
Five For Fighting’s John Ondrasik performs a solo show at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 20, at the City Theatre in Hockeytown, 2301 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $33. Call 313-471-6611 or visit www.olypiaentertainment.com.
Send your thoughts and comments to