Five For Fighting’s John Ondrasik is hoping that “a slice of American Pie” will prove tasty enough to become his next hit single.
The song is the title track of Five For Fighting’s fifth album, “Slice,” and an optimistic Ondrasik tells Billboard.com that the song “has been getting the kind of response that ‘Superman’,” his 2000 hit, “had before it got on radio. People react to that song even though they’ve never heard it before, maybe because of the audience and the nature of the lyrics.”
“Slice” finds Ondrasik singing about “a long, long time ago,” before cellular telephones and the Internet, when a single song — in this case Don McLean’s “American Pie” — united an entire society. ” ‘Slice’ is for those of us who remember the day we all used to sing the same song,” explains Ondrasik, who co-wrote the song with “Godspell” and “Wicked” composer Stephen Schwartz. “We’ll see if the lyric is something that can transcend the masses or if just something like folks over 40 relate to it.”
He’s also curious to hear McLean’s take on the tune. “If the song finds its way out there, we’ll see if McLean reaches out. Obviously it’s a tribute to him, and every night I talk about his song in my show. We’ll see if he cares.”
The “Slice” album’s first single also got attention, albeit for a very different reason. “Chances” appeared as the end-title song for the Sandra Bullock film “The Blind Side,” letting Five For Fighting bask in her Academy Award-winning light for a bit — though Ondrasik was on tour and could not attend the various premieres. Still, he feels the placement helped “Chances” hit the Top 10 on the Hot Adult Contemporary chart and the Top 20 of the Hot Adult Top 40 survey, and he’s certainly happy he pulled it from “2012” in favor of “The Blind Side.”
“I always wanted to be in a sports film,” says Ondrasik, an avid fan, “so when they told me about (‘The Blind Side’) and I heard the story and everything I thought, ‘Wow, the song almost sounds like it was written for the film.’ (The producers) were saying to me, ‘Be aware this is a little, indie film. We don’t have many expectations for it.’ Nobody had any idea it would become what it is…bigger than ‘Rocky.’ The highlight for me is that for the next 20 years people will be able to hear the song in that film and have it be part of that experience.”
Ondrasik begins a solo acoustic tour on Thursday in Detroit but says he’s going to spend most of the summer off the road, spending time with his wife and two young children — and also watching the “Slice” single’s fate to determine when he’ll start working on another album. “If it goes, that’ll probably put me out (on the road) for another year,” says Ondrasik, who’s also working on some film music. “If it doesn’t click, it’s probably time to get back to the drawing board…which is hard to think about, ’cause this has been a pretty grueling year.”