The album that changed John Ondrasik's life

By Evan Serpick
Updated December 07, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST

Who’s that guy?” This question was undoubtedly on lots of lips when Five for Fighting’s John Ondrasik walked on stage at the Oct. 20 Concert for New York City. He may not have the star power of headliners Eric Clapton and Mick Jagger, but his ”Superman (It’s Not Easy)” became such an anthem for victims of the terrorist attacks that he was invited to perform it at the show. Sharing a stage with Paul McCartney was particularly thrilling for Ondrasik, 36, who says the Beatles’ Abbey Road opened his ears to a world of musical possibilities.

John Ondrasik: ”Ten years ago, I was writing bad song after bad song. I hadn’t really figured out what I was about yet. Then one time, I was heading up to Tahoe from L.A., and I must’ve listened to Abbey Road six or seven times. It struck me how diverse the music is. The thing I love most is how you have a rock song like ‘Come Together’ next to a twisted lyric like ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer,’ and heavy stuff like ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy),’ and beautiful songs like ‘Here Comes the Sun,’ and quirky little commentary songs like ‘Her Majesty’ at the end. I discovered what a record should be.”