After the Newtown, Connecticut Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre a month ago, Tom Tom Club and former Talking Heads members Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth wanted to help the community but didn’t know how to at the time. The massacre had hit close to home, literally, since the couple, who married in 1977, live about 15 miles from the school. “On a nice day, I could ride my bike there,” Frantz tells MTV Hive. “It’s that close.”
That’s why, when the opportunity arose, they welcomed a number of Sandy Hook students, ages 6 to 9, to record a version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in their home studio to release as a charity single, which they debuted today on Good Morning America and have made available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon. Proceeds from the song, which Frantz and Weymouth coproduced and features Ingrid Michaelson’s vocals and ukulele playing, benefit the Newtown Youth Academy, a local youth center, and United Way.
The idea to do the song came to them through Louise Staley, who worked with original CBGBs owner Hilly Kristal. Her friend Tim Hayes, who co-owns the CBs brand these days, had the idea and organized the recording. With a proper studio in place, the students, who had been rehearsing with local music teacher Sabrina Post, visited Frantz’s and Weymouth’s home studio to record the song last week.
“We had a wonderful experience recording these kids,” Frantz says of the students, who were beaming wide smiles in photos of the recording. “They were excellent kids. They were very well behaved and they gave us no trouble. Also, they were really well rehearsed. When they came here they absolutely knew what they were doing and they were really good.”
“Undoubtedly, these children are still processing what happened,” Frantz says, “but these children are very resilient. Aside from one kid who had a bad cold or the flu, they seemed very happy to be doing this song. There was no trepidation whatsoever. They were really enjoying themselves.”
Although Frantz doesn’t know exactly who picked “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” he thinks it was a fitting choice. “Not only is it one of the most beautiful songs ever written and a classic but it relates to what happened in the aftermath of the Newtown massacre,” he says. “The song is about a better world. It’s about a place where you can go and be safe and have a good time. So it’s a perfect song for this occasion.”
The couple’s involvement in the recording means a lot to them. The fact that they were able to contribute what they do best is something that means a lot to Frantz. “It’s something we can do and do pretty well,” he says. “Hopefully it’s a more long-lasting thing than sending flowers. I would really like to see people purchase this song. Go to iTunes; it will be, what, 99 cents? Don’t share it, buy it, so that it really serves the purpose of what it was designed to do: helping the children of Newtown create a better atmosphere where they live.”