Pastor Barry/ The Gathering Church Under The Sun #4 (Ecclesiastes): Lonely People To hear this message and others download our free app at The App Store by searching The Gathering Connect.
America & Lonely People The Dan Peek Story
Dan Peek (November 1, 1950 – July 24, 2011) was an American musician and song writer best known as a founding member of the folk rock band America (1970 to 1977). He wrote many of America’s hits including Lonely People which he and his newly wed wife (Catherine) wrote together in an attempt to counter the hopelessness of the Beatles’ hit song Eleanor Rigby. The Band America actually began in London where Dan Peek’s dad was stationed in the U.K. as were the father’s of his classmate’s, Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell who would also become his band mates. While playing together one day the trio realized they had something special and formed the band America, named so that people would know that they weren’t just three guys singing with phony American accents. In 1971, the trio cut an album with some success, but later that same year they released the single A Horse With No Name and became an immediate sensation winning a Grammy for best new musical artist in 1972. A trail of number one hits and records followed.
The fame, fortune, sex, and drugs gnawed away at Dan’s childhood faith. In a series of interviews Peek said, “I had a spiritual compass but I abandoned it completely.” He recalled a time in London when the band first formed. “ I got on my knees and I said, ‘Lord, if you’ll make this group a success, I will use it as a platform to tell other people about you”. Within a year of praying that prayer, America had a number one album and a number one single around the world. Peek said, “It hit me like a ton of bricks one day— Bam!, God answered your prayer. Now you need to live up to your end of the bargain! – I tried to share the Gospel with Dewey and Gerry. They weren’t interested. I tried to share it with some other people – they didn’t want to know. So, I just kind of withdrew into my shell as a heathen and then just became a practicing hedonist”. Fame was “like being a kid in a candy shop with a sweet tooth”, said Peek. “I had become a trash dump of chemicals.”
After a fall or jump (he couldn’t remember) from a cliff at his million dollar home in Malibu, and later (after recovery) kneeling in prayer there, he cried out to God, repented for the life he was leading, and re-committed his life to Christ. Peek said, “Within months everything was gone”. His house burned down in a fire, he left the band, America and he and his wife moved to the mid-west where Dan pursued a new career as a Christian music artist releasing All Things Are Possible in 1979, Doer of the Word in 1984 and Electrovoice in 1986, which included a remake of “Lonely People” where he changed some of the song’s lyrics to reflect his Christian faith. Peek spent much of the 1990s in semi-retirement, occasionally recording at his home in Bodden Town, Grand Cayman Island. In the years before his death, Peek released music via his website. Dan Peek died in his sleep (of fibrinous pericarditis) on July 24, 2011, at age 60 in his home in Farmington, Missouri . He was survived by his wife Catherine, both of his parents and five siblings. Dan and Catherine had no children but many children of God surely came from his ministry and their life together.
Note: In 2004 Dan Peek released an autobiography entitled An American Band: The America Story
Oppression, Toil & Loneliness Ecclesiastes 4:1-8, Luke 4:18-19, Matthew 11:28-29, John 15:5, 13-15, Romans 5:1-11
As we come to chapter four in our study of Ecclesiastes we find King Solomon reflecting on the oppression being suffered by man on this earth. Tears without comfort and abuse without remedy. Solomon’s conclusion was that the dead were happier than the living and that it would be best to never have been born at all. He also saw that hard work (toil) and achievement sprung from one person’s envy of another and that even with both hands full (plenty) there was no fulfillment in life. What Solomon discovered was that oppression comes from within and without. It is a state of being.
Dan Peek speaks of this same “state of being” in his autobiography. By all appearances he had and accomplished everything but felt immense oppression. He relates that the achievements of his band America was the result of mean spirited competition between him and his band mates to write the next hit song. The endless touring and concerts had become an exhaustive burden. Dan Peek could certainly agree with Solomon at that suicidal point in his life— “There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother…Their was no end to his toil and his eyes were not content with his wealth…meaningless—a miserable business!”.
Solomon and Dan Peek alike were “lonely people” even though they were surrounded by many people and things. They were lonely and oppressed (mentally distressed) because their relationship with God was not right. Indeed, some historically oppressed victims and slaves never expressed the disparity here that Solomon did in all of his splendor. Harriet Tubman (Slave & civil rights heroine), Corrie Ten Boom (Holocaust survivor, author & speaker), and Richard Wurmbrand (Imprisoned minister, tortured survivor, author and founder of Voice of the Martyrs) are all Christian examples of people who testified that their relationship with Christ, even in extended times of immense oppression, toil and loneliness, found peace with God. In Jesus’ own words He came “to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18-19). He came to “give rest” to those who toil (Matthew 11:28-29). He came as a friend to the lonely—to “remain” with us always (John 15:5, 13-15). As the Apostle Paul said to the church in Rome: “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” and “God’s love poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” and believers “have now received reconciliation” (Romans 5:1-11). The “peace” that delivers one from such mental and spiritual oppression can only come through Christ. Dan Peek’s testimony is a fine example of that truth.
“Two are better than one” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
The logical passage above makes good physical sense. Two are certainly better than one; however, the “cord of three strands” which “is not quickly broken” is ironically a reference to three. Our God is three in one, a Trinity—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He alone can not be broken and nor can His promises to those who belong to Him. God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? Numbers 23:19 A true friend is good to find and a good spouse and children are a blessing, but a relationship with Jesus Christ is eternal and unbreakable. He will “never leave us or forsake us” (Hebrews 13:5).
The “Real King” Ecclesiastes 4:13-16
Solomon tells a story that reflects the constant fickleness of fans (aficionado or supporter). People will always move from one “king” (famous person) to another younger successor, but will always be unsatisfied. King Jesus is the only one who should sit on the throne of our lives. All else is truly “meaningless, a chasing after the wind”. Dan Peek later changed the words of his song, Lonely People and re-recorded it (Electrovoice 1986). He ended all of his concerts with it thereafter. He concluded: “Don’t give up until you drink from the silver cup , He’ll never take you down, He’ll never give you up, but you’ll never know until you try”. To any who feel like giving up…please don’t. Let us introduce you to Jesus. He is the “real King!”