When we recorded our debut album, Play, we decided that we wanted to include a vocal on the album both because we liked the idea of a vocal and because we didn't want to get pigeonholed musically as an instrumental jazz group. We settled on a cover of "The Captain Of Her Heart" because our Manager at the time - who previously worked with Ahmet Ertegun at Atlantic Records - told us that Ahmet had felt that this song would be perfect to cover with a jazzy vibe. We were also fortunate to get Judie Tzuke, a renowned British singer, to do the vocals. The result was a Top 20 radio hit for PGS.
So when we were planning the new album I said to Ron Thaler, our drummer and the album's producer, that in light of our experience with "Captain" we should consider including one or two vocals to include on this record. He agreed and said he had the perfect singer for us to use, Joye Hennessey. Ron and Joye then came back and proposed "Heavy", I think mainly because she always loved the song. We then recorded it in early October along with seven other original tracks, intending to release it as part of the album.
However, just a few weeks later the Penn State sexual abuse scandal hit, and for over a week it dominated the news. PGS was at that moment just starting to mix our new album. It then occurred to me that the title of the song, its message and its feel, were all totally perfect and in synch with the healing effort going on at Penn State and around the country and the world in the aftermath of the scandal.
The title of the track is nearly a century old, and comes from the motto for Father Flanagan's Boys Town - a charity which was set up for children in need. The Hollies turned the original song into a major hit in the 1960s, and the song has been covered many times since then, but never under the same circumstances as we found when PGS was recording the track. It simply struck a nerve in me. The message of the song is so positive - to help those in need, to carry your brother on your back, to take the load off of him. I just thought it was perfectly atuned to the healing situation at Penn State - and now unfortunately at Syracuse University too.
So I immediately suggested to the band that we release "Heavy" as a single ahead of the album, and that we donate proceeds to one or more charities which support abused children. Everyone quickly agreed. It makes us feel good as musicians and citizens to be able to do some good through our music.