American Town – Five for Fighting (2000)

Eric First, Eastside Staff

In 2000, Vladimir John Ondrasik III, known by his stage name Five for Fighting, released his second album, America Town. A solo soft rock artist, Ondrasik wrote all twelve of the album’s songs, featuring guest musicians Gregg Wattenberg (guitarist) and Dorian Crozier (percussionist). This is the first album that he released after signing a deal with Columbia Records.

America Town highlights Ondrasik’s piano skills in its songs. The tunes that he plays give off an overall mellow tone. Ondrasik connects with his listeners by singing about everyday struggles. Songs such as track four, “America Town,” and track eleven, “Boat Parade,” have powerful lyrics that emphasize the ability of people to overcome challenges in life. Lyrics such as “And we can make right if we sail all night” in the song “Boat Parade” show that tenacity can help people get through times of desperation. This specific line refers to a ship’s crew working together to reach their destination before their boat sinks. Both “America Town” and “Boat Parade” each begin with a soft strum of Wattenberg’s guitar, followed by the soothing sound of Ondrasik’s voice. As the songs progress, they begin to pick up speed and tempo as Crozier builds up a steady drumbeat.

One of Ondrasik’s most notable songs on the America Town album is track three, “Superman (It’s Not Easy).” It is a rock piano song with a steady percussion beat in the background that expresses the fragility of mankind. A year after the release of the album, in September of 2001, the song gained great popularity, becoming an anthem of hope and recovery in America after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York. “Superman (It’s Not Easy)” was performed live at the New York City relief event, “The Concert for New York,” on October 20, 2001, to aid in the healing process for a country devastated by these horrifying, despicable attacks. The song reached number fourteen on Billboard’s Hot 100 that same month.

The America Town album also features several songs focused around love. Track eight, “Out of love,” begins slowly, but later raises tempo with Wattenberg’s guitar. Track ten, “Love Song,” is a peaceful song with lyrics discussing matters about love.

Ondrasik’s heartfelt lyrics in his songs give off a pleasant vibe to the listener. The soft tone of his voice complements the soothing timbre of the instruments in his album, America Town.