When images of horror pour into our living rooms from the television news, as it did some weeks back with the news of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre of innocent children, most of us sit gape-mouthed with clenched fists, tearing eyes and broken hearts.
Grammy and Oscar-winning songwriter Jim Peterik was so moved by news reports of innocent lives lost and brave teachers and staff who shielded children with their own bodies, that he went upstairs to his home studio and began to put his emotions to song. The result is “Newtown (You’re Not Alone),” a new digital single now available from iTunes from which proceeds go to The United Way in memory of the victims of the Connecticut tragedy.
“Like all of America and the world, I was saddened and shocked by this tragedy,” said Peterik, born in Berwyn and still regionally-rooted in Chicagoland. “What happened is just incomprehensible. I still can’t get my head around it. I just got inspired to do something.”
Peterik reached out to Marc Sherer, a gifted singer with a wide vocal range who he had currently been partnering up with on a project. Together the two talented musicians created “Newtown (You’re Not Alone).”
“I’d been working on a project with Marc who has deep Chicago roots,” explained Peterik. “Marc was the lead singer of Lovecraft (formerly known as H.P. Lovecraft in the 1960s) and was the guy who did the demo (recordings) for songs on the most recent Pride of Lions record. He had so impressed me when doing those demos, we started making a record of our own and it’s almost done. It was during the eleventh hour of this project the shootings happened. Moved by tears and true conviction, Marc and I sat down and wrote this song with the proceeds going to the United Way. I hope that in some small way, we can make a positive difference with this song.”
Just as the Newtown tragedy united the nation and people around the globe, it united Peterik with another Chicago music icon for the first time in their respective careers. Peterik called on veteran session and studio guitarist Joe Jammer to play counterpoint to his own guitar work on the song. As long time Chicagoland rockers know, Jammer first honed his chops in the 1960s while touring alongside Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, as Page’s guitar tech, personal roadie and frequent “stage guest” at Zep shows. Jammer still frequently tours England, where his fame and popularity have never diminished.
Instead of being a somber and sorrowful song, “Newtown (You’re Not Alone)” is surprisingly upbeat with a powerful chorus reminding all listening that Newtown could be “any town” as all are at risk and need to be united in caring for each other always. It’s a positive message of hope born from a situation of pain and suffering.
Peterik performs this Saturday as the ringmaster for the latest World Stage concert at The Arcada Theatre (105 East Main Street) in St. Charles, IL. Tickets start at $29.
World Stage shows finds Peterik gathering together various collaborators from throughout his career, some famous and some not so famous, but all extremely talented. Saturday’s 8 p.m. concert features performances by Peterik’s first band The Ides of March, singer Toby Hitchcock (a Valparaiso native who fronts Peterik’s current group Pride of Lions), vocalist Dave Bickler (original lead singer of Peterik’s ‘80s group, Survivor), national jazz pop vocalist Lisa McClowry, national blues guitarist/vocalist Anthony Gomes, “American Idol” finalist Leslie Hunt (from season seven), Jeff Adams (of Starship), and rising R&B/pop star Sijay, among others.
More on the benefit single “Newtown (You’re Not Alone)” and Saturday’s World Stage show can be found at: www.jimpeterik.com