Lonely People (as made famous by America)

“Lonely People” is a song written by the husband-and-wife team of Dan Peek and Catherine Peek and recorded by America.

“Lonely People” was the second single release from America’s 1974 album Holiday. “Lonely People” reached number five on the Billboard Hot 100,[1] the Peeks’ only credited song to reach that chart’s top 10,[2] and was America’s second number one on the Easy Listening chart, where it stayed for one week in February 1975.[3]

“Lonely People” was not automatically earmarked for the Holiday album: Dan Peek unsuccessfully submitted a demo of the song for John Sebastian to consider recording.[4]

“Lonely People” was written as an optimistic response to the Beatles’ song “Eleanor Rigby”. Dan Peek considered “Eleanor Rigby” an “overwhelming” “picture…of the masses of lost humanity, drowning in grey oblivion” and would recall being “lacerated” on first hearing the lyrics of its chorus which run “All the lonely people: where do they all come from…where do they all belong”.[4] “Lonely People” was written within a few weeks of Dan Peek’s 1973 marriage to Catherine Mayberry: Peek- “I always felt like a melancholy, lonely person. And now [upon getting married] I felt like I’d won.”[5] The lyrics of “Lonely People” advise “all the lonely people”: “Don’t give up until you drink from the silver cup”, a metaphor which Dan Peek thus explains: “It’s possible to drink from another’s well of experience…and be refreshed.”[4]

Dan Peek would recall that in his post-America solo career he would utilize “Lonely People” to close his concerts, introducing the song “with words to the effect” “that Jesus is the answer to loneliness”. On the advice of a fan Dan Peek began amending the actual lyrics of the song to convey this pro-Christian message and Dan Peek recorded a lyrically revised version of “Lonely People” for his 1986 album Electro Voice. This revised version amended the original lyrics “And ride that highway in the sky” and “You never know until you try” to “And give your heart to Jesus Christ.”[6]