This was written by Dan Peek, who along with Dewey Bunnell and Gerry Beckley, was one of the three original members of America. Many of Peek's compositions show a very spiritual and searching side and "Lonely People," a call for the lonely and despairing to seek God, is one of those songs and easily his best known.
Peek left the band in 1977 to focus on his faith; after leaving America, he performed this song live, altering the lyric to leave no doubt of his intention, singing "Don't give up until you drink from the silver cup and give your heart to Jesus Christ."
Peek explained to Circus magazine that on this song, he was "thinking about what it would be like to wake up and not know anybody."
Famed Beatles producer George Martin helmed this song along with the rest of the album in London. Peek recalled to Circus: "Gerry (Beckley) had been in England, and we'd talked about using George Martin as our producer. He's such a hot arranger, thinking about all the stuff he's done. There were several other people we wanted to use, but that idea sort of flashed and George was available. Gerry had a house outside of London where we knew we could rehearse."
The trio met with George Martin in Los Angeles, at the offices of America's managers, Geffen-Roberts. Peek remembered with a laugh: "The first thing he did was take his shirt, sweater and shoes off. He said it was too hot in L.A. He put everyone at ease, and we just got along well from the first second. He has a very musical mind, and as we began working we bounced ideas off of him quite a bit, with things like vocal arrangements and guitar parts. It was an amazing experience working for a mind-producer."
Dan Peek worked on the lyrics to this song with his wife, Cathy, who is listed as a songwriter on the track along with her husband.
All three members of America wrote songs, which they would do separately. In the studio, the other two members would help hash it out, and the writer would sing lead.
"Lonely People" was Dan Peek's biggest hit with the band, but his songs "Don't Cross The River" (#35), "Today's The Day" (#23) and "Woman Tonight" (#44) also charted.
This went to #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart, one of three America songs to do so (the others: "Tin Man" and "Today's The Day").
Christian outfit Jars of Clay covered this on their 2003 album, Who we Are Instead. The band say they would have recorded it years previously if they had known the cheer that rises from the audience when they sing, "This is for all the lonely people."
Romanong Kurong from NagaThe guitar introduction thrills me to no end. The low vocals—“this is for all the lonely people, thinking that life has passed them by”—never allowed me to know why I was literally lonely in those days after my mother died.
Listening to this in the afternoons when I was jobless, seeking any type of work that would pay—after my scholarship’s graduation stipend was depleted, spent for mailing my essays and poems to city-based magazines, that never even saw publication. Writing never did pay, and that time I hardly knew that it didn’t or that it could.
“This is for all the single people, thinking that love has left them dry.” Yeah. What could be more heart-wrenching than being ignored by one person who could hardly care about how I chaliced her? Nothing follows. The guitars, keyboard, and the dismal vocals just had to fade. Please.
Djflwb from Tampa, FlHighway Highlight (from the box set booklet) "Lonely People" was Peek's standout contribution to Holiday, a simple tune that carried a universal message. The song came out of true experience, Dan says: "I wrote it probably within a month of getting married to my long-lost love, Catherine. I had always felt like the melancholy, lonely person. And now I felt like I'd won. It had become this quest, to get this woman and make things right. There was a joy, but also a sadness for everybody that didn't have somebody, 'cause I knew what that was like. The line that inspired it was from 'Eleanor Rigby': 'all the lonely people, where do they all come from ... where do they all belong?' That line haunted me and cut me to the core. After a couple of years of it being out, we'd do shows where, when we played that song, there would be a standing ovation in the middle of it. This was for all the lonely people, and I was one of them." So at the time it was written it was about the chalice used during the wedding ceremony.
Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 22nd 1974 "Lonely People" by America entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and on March 2nd, 1975 it peaked at #5 (for 1 week) and spent 14 weeks on the Top 100... And on February 15th, 1975 it reached #1 (for 1 week) on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart... Between January 5th and June 14th, 1975 there were 23 different records in a row that held the #1 spot on the Adult Contemporary chart for just one week; "Lonely People" was sixth in that string... R.I.P. Dan Peek (1950 - 2011).
Lianna from Sylva, NcIt is also very interesting to note that many Pagans use this song, as in the last line it says "She" will never take you down or never give you up", which to Wiccans refers to the Goddess, and the silver cup is the chalice that predates the cup of Christ, and the silver highway is the silver astral cord leading from this life to that which comes next, Wiccans having no belief in Hell. Lovely that we can share these things. :o)
Ric from Atlanta, GaCheck out this video from Dan himself... then read his autobiography... it's amazing!
Lenny from Edison, NjR I P Dan Peek. You are now riding that highway in the sky!
Bmn from Hisuan, Argentina>> I never knew that America was such a God-loving band.
There were 3 and now there are 2. And it's been that way for 30+ years. It seems that *1* is God-loving.
Dan from Gurnee, IlI thought I was day dreaming in my car when I heard the line for the version of Lonely People where he sings, "give your heart to Jesus Christ". Glad to see that wasn't. Where can you hear that version?
Kevin from Reading , PaDustin, I don't think America was especially God loving when they were having their hits. Dan Peek is the one who got religion more or less after he left the in the late 70s. At least that's how I understand it.
Dustin from Franksville, WiI never knew that America was such a God-loving band. This song is one of their shortest, but sweetest melodies ever.