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Legendary American singer-songwriter Vladimir John Ondrasik III, known by his stage name Five for Fighting, is out with a new track dedicated to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
A remix of his classic song “Superman,” the new track, “Can One Man Save the World,” pays tribute to the Ukrainian leader amid what may be the worst crisis he and his nation have ever faced.
“Who is this comedian, his audience more mice than men, this Superman Ukrainian, I don’t know. Great grandson of the Holocaust, an Eastern heart the West has lost, nail or carry up his cross, I don’t know. But he’s got everyone thinking, yeah he’s got all of us thinking, can one man save the world? In a thousand years, will they say your name, or is this all in vain, can one man save the world?” Ondrasik sings on the track.
“Will you take my hand, will you help me stand, still in the end, can one man save the world? Elena pulls him to her breast, the bear the devil stabs their chest, can one embrace raise the oppressed, I don’t know. Does freedom still have appetite, is there the will the goods to fight, can a single flame light up the night, I don’t know. Yeah but he’s got you all thinking, cause everyone’s thinking, can one man save the world?”
Listen to the full song below:
Appearing on New York radio station WABC’s “Bo Snerdley” this Friday, Ondrasik spoke to host James Golden about the inspiration behind the song.
“You know, as a songwriter, some songs you write are crafted. It takes months. You write hundreds of lines. … But this song was similar to ‘Superman,’ in that it kind of wrote itself very quickly,” he said.
“And I think, like so many of us, when Joe Biden offered Zelenskyy a plane ticket to evacuate, and Zelenskyy said keep your plane ticket, send me some stinger missiles, I think we were all kind of stunned and wondering who this man is. And his example and the Ukrainian people, their strength, their fortitude fighting for freedom, has been incredibly inspiring,” he added.
— Bo Snerdley (@BoSnerdley) February 25, 2022
“I think you’ll agree, the last 20 years, we’ve really had our head in the sand when it comes to foreign policy. You talk about Crimea, you talk about Syria, even Hong Kong, where we kind of shrugged our shoulders. And I think we’ve been longing for somebody to stand up to these authoritarian bullies, thugs like Putin,” Ondrasik continued.
“So you know, his example, I think, is changing the dynamics, frankly, of the Western world. Just this week we had the prime minister of Poland and Slovenia go to Kyiv. You have Russian reporters basically defying Putin. And I think that’s all because of his initial stance. Courage is contagious, and I wanted to, frankly had to, express that and write a song about this man who, in many ways, is changing the world.”
Like many other Americans, Golden has been blown away by the song.
“It blew my mind. … That is just simply, incredibly, wonderfully beautiful. The lyrics, the music, and your vocal performance, my friend, it’s just … it just brings every emotion to the surface. What a wonderful song, John,” he told Ondrasik.
Listen to the full segment below, or fast-forward to the 8:05 mark to hear the part about the song:
Now, you may have noticed that, though Ondrasik goes by John, his official first name is Vladimir. Earlier in the segment, Golden asked him about this.
“Am I also correct that your first name isn’t John. John is your middle name?” Golden asked.
“It is,” Ondrasik replied, chuckling.
“Well, I’m not really advertising my first name right now considering the circumstances in the world,” he added, prompting loud laughter from Golden.
“But yes, it is Vladimir, and about a month ago you’d think of a left-winger of a hockey team or a famous violinist, but yes, I am Vladimir John Ondrasik III. But not all Vladimirs are Putins, and I sympathize with all Vladimirs out there.”
Putin refers to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who arguably may be the most hated man in the world right now because of his decision to invade Ukraine.
Continuing his remarks, Ondrasik then spoke a little about his upbringing.
“I’m proud of my heritage. My great grandfather came over as a young man from Slovakia, and they were wire artisans and started a business here in Los Angeles in the 40s, where we still work. I still work for the family business,” he said.
— John Ondrasik (@johnondrasik) November 28, 2015
According to a quote from Ondrasik published on his website, the company, Precision Wire Products, “makes the best shopping cart in the world.”
Incidentally, some would say he makes the best music in the world …
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