Death by Power Ballad: Jim Peterik, “Above the Storm”
This is the final entry in our DbPB salute to Jim Peterik, and it is, I admit, an odd choice for a conclusion. “Above the Storm” is not Peterik’s best ballad; truth be told, I’m not all that fond of it, certainly not as fond as I am of Survivor’s “Desperate Dreams” or their unreleased “The Love We Never Made”Â demo, or of Pride of Lions‘ “Faithful Heart,” or .38 Special’s “Changed by Love,” or a score of other Peterik ballads I could have selected.
Why, then, choose “Above the Storm”? Indulge me, for a moment:
A week from tomorrow, I will have been a parent for ten years. That milestone and a recent event in my extended family got me thinking about perfectionism and parenthood, and how the twain never, ever meet. Oh, sure, I’ve had my moments. Like the time when Dylan was small and suffering from an ear infection, when I rocked him to sleep and, with that sleep, provided him some modicum of relief. I also felt pretty good recently, when he proudly showed off his new copy of the Guinness Book of World Records by showing me the entry for the woman with the world’s biggest breasts. He did this in front of his aftercare attendant, who proceeded to give him no small amount of grief before I took her aside and explained to her that the only thing funnier to a nine-year-old than boobs are farts, and if the Guinness Book of World Records could have passed gas, that’s what he would have shown me.
Truth of the matter is, I’ve screwed up, many times. All parents do. I’m going to do it again, probably as soon as I leave my office, and if not then, certainly in the next 24 hours. I’ve yelled when I should have been calm; chastised when I should have instructed; turned down an activity when I should have participated; let him down in several small ways that only occur to a parent after the fact.We forgive the minor offenses of our parents as we get older; things that to a young boy or girl appear unforgivable are eventually reconciled and/or forgotten. We let go. We move on. We pray our children do the same, much as our parents were able to let go of their own parents’ downfalls and dust-ups. Forgiving the little stuff helps when it’s time to forgive the big stuff, the real lifetime-of-resentment bile that can sit in your throat for years, bubbling up and burning you when you least expect it. To let go is to take control of your hurt, even your hatred, setting it aside in an effort to cleanse yourself, make yourself whole again. The best way to retaliate is to live the best, cleanest life you can.
My father, the only hero I’ve ever had (except for Joe Walsh, when I’m really drunk), had a profoundly contentious relationship with his parents, who never seemed to quite muster love or support for him. With virtually nothing and no one to use as a model, he became a husband and father, building from within himself — and himself only –Â the capacity to love, to teach, and to care for his wife and kids.
It is his example I use when I consider the job I have done as a father this last decade. I can imagine no better man to use as a role model, or a measuring stick.
What does this have to do with Jim Peterik? “Above the Storm” states, in very simple terms, the hope all parents have as they show love for and struggle to protect their kids. Using a child’s fear of storms as a metaphor, Peterik’s words offer comfort and a promise of safety:
The sun’s gonna shine
The rain will stop
The healing wind’s gonna fill your heart
My love will keep you safe and warm
Little one, I’ll carry you above the storm.
Granted, there’s not much power in this here ballad — the strings and background vocals ooh-ing and ahh-ing hint not even a bit at the dynamics and bombast the man typically has at his command.Â Air Supply would blush at these production values; the song kinda makes Graham Russell look like a badass.Â There’s no hairspray or fire or codpieces or leather jackets or groveling or groupies or paeans to life on the road.
It’s gooey and sentimental, just like I get when I see this:
Happy birthday, Dylan. And thank you, Dad.