Five for Fighting brings acoustic slice to LourdesWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
“Slice,” Five for Fighting’s latest single, pays tribute to Don McLean and his classic, “American Pie.”
John Ondrasik was excited to receive feedback from the legendary singer-songwriter.
“Don McLean for the first time responded to his homage, and he was very pleased with the song,” he said. “You never know when you write a song that references other songs how the songwriter is going to react, but he seemed to be very happy.”
Ondrasik wrote the track with composer Stephen Schwartz, best known for writing the musicals “Wicked” and “Godspell.”
“We were in a coffeehouse and looking through my book and hit upon this ‘Slice’ idea and, very cliché, but he grabbed a napkin and started writing lyrics down,” Ondrasik recalled. “About a half hour after we started working on it, ‘American Pie’ came on the radio in the coffeehouse, so we’re like we’re doing something really right or really wrong because some of the music gods are giving us a sign.”
The song is peppered with nods to some of Ondrasik’s favorite musicians.
“It references how music now is kind of so niche-driven we don’t have those big songs that we can bond together as a country, as a nation, mark our lives by,” he explained during a call from Los Angeles. “When I was a kid, we had music and sports and Pong. Now we have a thousand cable channels, the Internet, video games, so obviously music is less relevant in children’s and young people’s lives to a certain extent.
“But I do hope that it can still have a cultural impact, and that’s the message of ‘Slice.’ ”
The singer-songwriter who records under the name Five for Fighting penned the influential “Superman (It’s Not Easy),” a Grammy-nominated hit in 2001.
“I was definitely in a stage of my artistic career that most songwriters go through: I was being rejected by every record label, I was being passed on, I was kind of frustrated,” the pianist and guitarist said. “Thinking back on ‘Superman’ right now, I’ve had the experience over the last 10 to 15 years of meeting people with real challenges, folks like our troops who face serious challenges. ‘Superman’ is not a song I could write today because, frankly, it is pretty easy to be me.”
He added, “I did always feel that people who heard it could relate to the sentiment, the kind of at-the-end-of-the-day-we’re-all-human sentiment, and never could have imagined it could have obtained what it did. I still enjoy playing that song; I did a show last weekend and probably played ‘Superman’ for the 8,000th time, but I still enjoy singing it.”
Fans will hear an acoustic version of that number and more from the 2009 “Slice” disc when Five for Fighting plays an 8 p.m. show Nov. 13 at the Franciscan Theatre at Lourdes College in Sylvania. Tickets are $26.
“Music can be many things: It can be an escape, it can be an inspiration, it can be a distraction, it can be a teaching tool, it can be cathartic, it can be something fun to jog to — that’s what music is for me and, hopefully, some of my songs resonate that way for other folks.”