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Hannity

'For the Troops': John Ondrasik Gets Music Industry Behind Music Special Project

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," December 28, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

RICH LOWRY, GUEST HOST: Welcome back to "Hannity & Colmes." I'm Rich Lowry in for Sean tonight.

Sean recently sat down with Five for Fighting's John Ondrasik, who has rounded up a who's who of the music industry for a very special purpose. They've put together a CD that is available absolutely free to any member of the U.S. military. It's called — what else? — "For the Troops."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HANNITY: We've become friends.

JOHN ONDRASIK, SINGER/SONGWRITER: Yes.

HANNITY: And this is probably going to kill your music career.

ONDRASIK: Thanks a lot.

HANNITY: And I don't know where your politics are. I don't want to know. You know I'm a big music fan, first and foremost.

ONDRASIK: Yes, I do.

HANNITY: And a big country fan.

ONDRASIK: Yes.

HANNITY: You're not a country artist.

ONDRASIK: No.

HANNITY: But you have the heart and soul of country, because your music is — is pretty deep. I mean, it really talks about real life.

That's what I think separates you from a lot of people in the music industry today. I think there's too much singy-song pop, meaningless. I don't get anything out of that.

ONDRASIK: Yes.

HANNITY: I want to listen to music. I want it to move me. I want it to relate to my life. I want a story to be told, and me to think on a deeper level.

ONDRASIK: Right. Well, I think — songs I've always enjoyed have a point of view.

And there's perfectly — it's fine to have fun pop songs that don't necessarily have a lot of meaning, but the songs that tend to stick with me, again they have a point of view. Whether you agree with it or not is one thing. But they tell a story. Maybe they bring you back to a time in your life. They make you think a little bit.

And I agree with you. I think we're lacking a little bit of that side in pop music.

HANNITY: You know, I'm on radio a few hours a day. I'm on television.

ONDRASIK: Right.

HANNITY: The most powerful former of communication though in the world is what you do, and that's music. And I noticed this — as we were doing the Freedom Concert, different times, different songs, like my friends Montgomery Gentry.

Eddie Montgomery sings a song, "Clouds," about how he lost his young son.

ONDRASIK: Yes.

HANNITY: And he tells the story. And I look out in the crowd, and people are crying, and they're moved. The only people I make cry are liberals.

ONDRASIK: Right.

HANNITY: But I mean, it really touches people. You know, I'll tell you. I really learned the power of music here in New York City for the Concert for New York.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ONDRASIK: I was honored to play that, and I was side-staged when The Who blew the roof off Madison Square Garden. And I saw these emergency workers that for a month had not been able to release. And when The Who got on-stage and started rocking out, the way they could express themselves, tears running down their faces, singing at the top of their lungs. I'm like, "Wow, this is why we got into it."

And when we did the CD for the troops, is music matters. It's a unique medium that can affect people in many different ways.

HANNITY: You have a passion for the troops.

ONDRASIK: Yes.

HANNITY: This is not political.

ONDRASIK: No.

HANNITY: I've never even asked you what your politics are.

ONDRASIK: Right.

HANNITY: I don't even want to know. But you have put together a compilation: Billy Joel, Brooks and Dunn...

ONDRASIK: Yes.

HANNITY: ... Montgomery Gentry, Jewel, Five for Fighting, Gary Sinise as Lieutenant Dan Band. And you're going to give these CDs out for free.

ONDRASIK: Yes.

HANNITY: Tell us what you're doing.

ONDRASIK: Josh Groban and Dufray (ph), The Neville Brothers.

I was approached to write a foreword to a local group of bands that were giving music to the troops. They made a couple thousand CDs to send over to Iraq. And I thought what a great idea.

HANNITY: Yes.

ONDRASIK: As you said, I've seen how music can make a difference, how it affects morale, how it affects the mental health. I get e-mails from troops saying, "I listen to your song before I go on a mission","when I come back", "to remind me of home", "to get me pumped up", "to give me a moment of solace." And sometimes it's the same song.

So I started calling to a few friends of mine, reaching out to the music industry, saying, "Hey, you know, I'm putting together this CD. Would you give me a song for free to put on this CD?" And not only did I say, "Will you give it to me for free, will you give me your biggest hit?"

And it was great to see the reaction. I called Billy Joel's office, and they said, "John, what song do you want?"

And I said, "'Scenes from an Italian Restaurant' is my favorite."

They said, "You got it."

Jewel gave me "Hands."

Dufray (ph) gave me "The Simple Life (ph)."

HANNITY: You didn't pick "Freedom Never Dies," which I thought you'd pick for this album.

ONDRASIK: Well, if I'm going to ask everybody for their biggest hit, I better put mine on there.

HANNITY: Yes, I got you.

ONDRASIK: I put "Hundred Years" on there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ONDRASIK: The neat thing about this project, again, is it's non-political. That was my one kind of qualifier when I went around. I said, "Look, this is a thank-you to our troops." Not only are they securing the liberty for our children. We don't have a job without them.

HANNITY: No, we don't.

ONDRASIK: At some point in history, a soldier died so we have the right to get on this show. You have your opinion. I can write a song. There would be no songs without soldiers, Sean.

And it's not just the troops; it's their families, as well. This CD you can go onto AAFES.com. All you need is a military I.D. A-A-F- E-S.com. It's their kind of "Amazon" military exchange.

All 2.4 million active troops can have this music for free. We're making 200,000 CDs to go to theater, to go to Iraq, military hospitals and to Fisher houses.

And look, the record labels approved this, too. The publishers approved this, too. It is free. It's a gesture from the music industry to say we thank you, and we love you, and we appreciate what you do.

HANNITY: It's such a great thing you're doing. I can't thank you enough. It's great to see you, my friend.

ONDRASIK: Thanks, Sean.

HANNITY: Thank you very much.

ONDRASIK: You got it.

HANNITY: If we can help with this any more, please let us know.

ONDRASIK: You just did. Thank you, buddy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLMES: Great cause, as well. You can also check out John's great charity Web site, WhatKindOfWorldDoYouWant.com.

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