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Music Review: Five For Fighting — Live: Back Country

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Five for Fighting’s latest release, Live: Back Country is definitely worth your time and money.

John Ondrasik has a hauntingly beautiful voice. The notes he can hit (and sustain), and the way in which he uses that gorgeous falsetto, make him one of my favorite artists. Unfortunately, I’ll admit I cringe whenever someone at a karaoke bar attempts his songs because very few people have that type of vocal mastery.

In 2000, after signing with Columbia Records, he released American Town which featured "Easy Tonight" and "Superman." The album The Battle For Everything was released in 2004. In August 2006, Two Lights was released and became a Top 10 album and “The Riddle” and “World” made Five For Fighting a household name, according to his official website.

Speaking of names, John Ondrasik is a hockey fan and took the name “Five for Fighting” from how many minutes one must spend in the penalty box for fighting on the ice.

Live: Back Country was released November 2007 and is one of the better collections I own. The live performance was from an Orlando concert and he performs my favorite songs. Interspersed with concert material is footage from Ondrasik's climb to the top of Mount Whitney in California. The mountainous scenery juxtaposed against the darkened theatre is breathtaking.

In addition to the live concert, this collection includes his best music videos and the process of making of some better-known videos. Bonus features include the “Two Lights” Dad Interview and a web video for charity.

I would love to see him live because his concert presentation feels very personal. He tells moving stories about his wife, daughter, and son. He swears he wrote “California Justice” after being in the jury pool of the Robert Blake trial. Before he performs “’65 Mustang” he tells how this is the car his father drove him home from the hospital after he was born, and that his father lent him that very car in order to bring his own son home from the hospital. He reports that his daughter wrote the chorus to, “I Just Love You.”

As if that isn’t warm and wonderful enough, John Ondrasik has a strong social conscience and puts his money and ideas where his mouth is. Ondrasik has a web site wherein you can make donations to various charities by posting personal videos for the song “World” or by watching videos made by others.

The charities included are: Autism Speaks, Fisher House Foundation, VH1 Save The Music Foundation, Save The Children, and New York Police & Fire Widows & Children’s Benefit Fund. In addition, Ondrasik donated the licensing rights to “World” for the Breast Cancer 3-Day national television and radio advertising campaign that aired in March 2007. Ondrasik also entertained the troops in Guantanamo Bay.

Live: Back Country comes in DVD, Audio, and CD & VD/CD Combo Pack

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