Musings of An Andrew Peterson Nerd

By

I’ve been writing about the music of Andrew Peterson for nearly ten years now. The first time was in an e-mail dated August 8, 2001. The tone of my prose was that of a breathless fanboy. I suspect Andy gets a lot of these notes:

I listen to your music on my morning walks around the lake and in the car. When I walk, sometimes the converging of your music and the physical beauty of the scenery makes me feel like flying.  As I listen, mostly what occurs to me is the truth of your writing.  As much as religion has become part of pop culture today, it’s rare to find Christianity articulated in a profound and compelling way. Your music does that.

nerd-alert

I’ll admit to being a loyalist; once a supporter, always a supporter. I don’t shed my favorite artists like an old skin. Though I embrace variety and feel as if I’m on a perpetual quest for the next musical panacea–like the Lewis and Clark of the new music world–the songs of Andrew Peterson have been one constant. And a constant companion.

 

I can tell you that Andrew has a thing about mountains. And thunder. Someday I’m going to count those musical references, just for fun. That’s the kind of thing that nerds do. With a prolific discography that extends beyond ten years now, there’s an impressive body of work from which lovely patterns emerge.

We know, for example, that Andy is a family man. That’s not just a nod to the song from Love and Thunder, it’s one of the consistent values we observe from his discography: his uncles, his daddy and mama, brother, grandpa, children, and wife. Those are just a few direct references that come immediately to mind. More subtle is the living pulse of family that permeates so many other Peterson songs.

In the early days of my fandom, I quickly learned that Andrew is an often contrarian writer, far more than his gentle nature might imply. But his words are contrarian only to the extent that they serve the truth, quite unlike a pedestrian praise and worship exposition. When his pencil meets paper, expect convention to be turned on its head. Consider, for example, “No More Faith,” a song that was misunderstood by more than a few:

I say faith is a burden, it`s a weight to bear.
It`s brave and bittersweet.
And hope is hard to hold to
Lord I believe, only help my unbelief
Till there`s no more faith and no more hope,
I`ll see your face and Lord I`ll know that only love remains.

Faith, a burden? Who’d a thunk it? Brave and bittersweet? What’s that all about? And hope is hard to hold to? Why would hope be hard for a believer? These are the kinds of questions that come from those of us unwilling or unable to match the songwriter’s thoughtfulness.

What some may not know is that Andrew has taken some heat for his sometimes contrarian style. “Mohawks on the Scaffold” and “Land of the Free” are two examples that come to mind. The latter became controversial because some critics thought it was inappropriate that the writer “is just a little jealous of the nothing that you have.” “He’s making light of poverty,” they said. The former apparently contained thicker sarcasm than some could digest. Or maybe it was the quote from Tommy Boy that people didn’t like. I don’t know. (For extra credit, what is the Tommy Boy quote?)

So after a decade of listening to the careful, articulate observations of Andrew Peterson, I downloaded Counting Stars. I’m letting you know right now that I gave up comparing one Andrew Peterson project to another; I realized that comparing the relative greatness of a new AP release to earlier recordings was silly, like trying to compare kids, or mountains, or thunderstorms.

Something else I’ve learned as a long-time supporter is that I can expect a nearly uncomfortable dose of candor from Andrew Peterson in every project. What this man has done for “Christian” music is not so much tell the truth, as it has been to tell the truth in a true way. Paint-by-number Christian songs that reveal some hint of darkness inevitably resolve, wrapped with a pretty red bow just in time for the last verse. There comes a denouement in which the birds suddenly sing like spontaneous combustion, and the writer is a good Christian again.

Meanwhile, the protagonist in an Andrew Peterson song lies prostrate on the ground, bleating for comfort, wondering why the religious talk sounds hollow and inauthentic.

Before my first listen, I watched the promotional video for Counting Stars and was moved to misty eyes when I began to sense the imagery of the primary theme.

“God took Abram outside and said, ‘Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.'”  Genesis 15:5

Hey, that’s the mother bear of all promises, no? And we’ve all been witnesses to the profoundly, unspeakably beautiful way in which he delivered on that promise. Can I get a witness?countingstars400x400

By the way, this isn’t a review. In all fairness, as of this writing, I haven’t listened to the record enough to provide fair perspective for a review. I like to give myself at least ten listens before I start typing. Because an Andrew Peterson project is so rich–especially this one–I need to double that. So please consider these words as a primer–first impressions, if you will–something to whet your appetite.

My first listen to Counting Stars was on a trek through the freshly harvested wheat fields of Kansas last week. It brought back memories of my inaugural listen to Clear to Venus, which occurred on a similar drive to Kansas City, on a parallel track just a few miles to the east. As I slid the CD into the drive, an eagle flew high above a farm pond and a wild patch of cottonwood trees.

As Counting Stars began to unfold, my earnest hope was validated. I realized with each line that Counting Stars was a rich celebration of God’s providence and promise. God uses the vehicles of the family and the Church to reveal his love and faithfulness in ways we might understand. And in Counting Stars we have an artful and skillful portrayal of that truth.

The great challenge of any writer is to convey the complexity and intensity of emotion over time. There’s something about the passage of time which makes deeply held emotions more meaningful. It’s the difference between infatuation and enduring love. Infatuation is easy; love is hard. And like the final scene in Big Fish or Toy Story 3, the passage of time reminds us of skinned knees and broken hearts which left scars, but have somehow been patched and redeemed with patience, kindness, and forgiveness. The three-month giddy love of a twenty-something couple is cute; the wrinkled hands of Eric Peters’s aged couple in “These Hands” is profoundly moving because we have an idea of what went before, for so long.

It was in that context that I realized Andrew Peterson and his buddies were about to tell the tale of the most enduring love story ever told. Further, I realized that they faced a profound challenge. Still, I couldn’t wait to hear them rise to meet it.

“Many Roads” starts with a familiar Peterson cadence which he uses when he’s building to something beautiful. This guy knows his audience. He knows we come to his shows expecting something special. We want to hear that story again. And yes, we bring our hopes and fears. We also bring an expectation of a certain humility because that’s what we’ve seen in the heart of this songwriter before. In “Many Roads,” that humble bearing comes in the form of some inside humor and a twist worthy of M. Night Shamalama Ding Dong. I won’t spoil the moment of Act 3. Discover it yourself. I wish you a fraction of the joy I received from it.

“Dancing in the Minefields” is a picture of the wide contrast between unmitigated joy and homespun reality. It’s what happens after the honeymoon. Veteran Andrew Peterson fans take note: this project–though wholly original and compelling–is full of nods to earlier AP projects, which is not only fun, but moving. Seek and you will find.

One of the first references are the echoes of “Don’t give up on me,” in the background vocals of “Dancing in the Minefields.” It’s a sublime nod (yes, nods can be sublime, thank you) to “Don’t Give Up on Me” the track from Resurrection Letters Vol. 2. This song cleverly meshes promises echoing from earthen vessels with the divine promises made to Abraham and his descendents.

“Planting Trees” is a musical cousin to “Windows in the World,” from Resurrection Letters, Vol. 2, with a nearly identical guitar picking pattern, but in a slightly lower key. “Windows in the World” provides lyrical evidence of God in the world; conversely, “Planting Trees” isolates human creation as a reflection of God in the world. As the moon reflects the sun, so believers are called to reflect Christ. Andy uses the metaphor of planting trees to illustrate. This song begins with the universal and moves to the personal, the opposite of “Dancing in the Minefields, which begins with something personal and ends more broadly.

“The Magic Hour” is my kind of praise and worship song. It begins with what I thought was a beautiful Ben Shive piano introduction. Turns out, Andy does more keyboarding than usual on this project and it’s his piano playing that we hear. I couldn’t help but think that while others are celebrating happy hour, the writer celebrates “The Magic Hour.”

Is there any doubt that the place described in this song is a real place? The beautiful bridge integrates the eternal with the temporal and the divine with humanity. Sara Groves’s harmony, in my mind, symbolizes the integration of the two. “Watching the children laugh” is reminiscent of the line in “Don’t Give up on Me” from Resurrection Letters Vol. 2, about the golden dream with “angel voices in the rooms where the children run, all covered in light.”

“World Traveler” takes us on three kinds of journeys, one literal, one figurative, and one eternal. For newbies, please find here exhibit one as evidence for the songwriting wisdom of Andrew Peterson, who routinely consolidates related but separate verses into a literate, consolidated whole. It began with “All the Way Home” from Carried Along, and continues on Counting Stars with “World Traveler.” The “wade into the battle” line could be thought of as a concurrent nod to C.S. Lewis and “Little Boy Heart Alive,” from The Far Country, which contains a similar line.

“Isle of Skye” is a microcosm of the simple, elegant production character of Counting Stars. With such rich ingredients, the song doesn’t need to be long, either in words or instrumentation. It may be a decade or more before this little girl understands the depth of the love seeping from each measure of this song, but when it dawns on her, it will be something to behold.

This is another Ben Shive arrangement, with the intermittent instrumental spice of John Painter’s horns, David Henry’s cello and violin, and keys from Peterson. If the introductory piano lick sounds vaguely familiar, check out Ben Shive’s “4th of July” from Ill-Tempered Klavier. In fact, you may not be surprised to find more than a few moments that remind you of The Ill-Tempered Klavier, since Ben shares producer credit with Andy Gullahorn. The beauty of these collaborative efforts is the extent to which the whole is enhanced by the contribution of the individual parts.

“God of My Fathers” is an ideal theme song for this collection as the promise of the past is realized in the truth of the present. If you don’t have a copy of Carried Along, get one and check out a song called “All the Way Home,” which comes from the same genealogical lyrical line of “God of My Fathers.” Ya wanna feel good? I mean really good? Just lock this inspirational ditty on repeat. You say it’s been years since you’ve danced? This one may just impassion you enough to grab a partner and do-si-do in your living room. But don’t let this song’s perky demeanor make you lose sight of its thankful, prayerful, hopeful, personal wish for generational synchronicity.

“Fool with a Fancy Guitar” is a song about who we are in Christ. Rabbit Room readers may wonder if Ron Block was the passive theological influence of this song. He often reminds readers that as believers, we are in Christ, and Christ is in us. In “Fool With a Fancy Guitar,” we find the screaming paradox of faith. Truth isn’t always tidy. Even in God the Father, we find apparent contradictory characteristics, which are also explored in the flagship song “The Reckoning.”

“In the Night My Hope Lives On” has an old west vibe underlying its referenced Bible stories: everything from the Old Testament to the prodigal son, prostitutes, and Christ himself. Stuart Duncan’s fiddle is worth whatever they had to pay him. It embellishes, punctuates, and highlights the song. In the fiddle we feel the hopeful tune rising like the mist on the day of resurrection, revealing the victorious, risen Christ. “In the Night My Hope Lives On” is a first cousin–both musically and lyrically–to “High Noon” from Love and Thunder.

“You Came So Close” feels so personal that it’s a little uncomfortable to hear. It’s a song about a person who broke his wedding vows. It feels scary, sad, and dark. Apparently, the man finds some measure of redemption, but as the song ends with the echo of the word “hope” we have the sense that the final verse of this song is yet to be written.

“The Last Frontier (A Lament)” is another masterpiece (with yet another mountain reference). We inevitably contrast “Nothing to Say” with “The Last Frontier” and despite Andy’s habitual candor–to which I should be accustomed–I am still left with my jaw on the floor. You have never heard the timbre of this man’s voice more stark, deep, and real than on the performance of this song. You think “The Silence of God” from Love and Thunder was full of candor? You haven’t heard anything yet. Benjamin Disraeli said, “There is no wisdom like frankness.” Placing this profoundly mournful song as preparation for the next song,”The Reckoning,” was a good choice indeed.

“The Reckoning” starts out with Andrew Osenga’s wandering, pondering electric guitar. Then, as if the writer suddenly summoned the courage to proceed with the boldness of tough questions, it takes off like a rifle shot, with an urgent, arresting tone, a musical intimation that the songwriter means business. It begins with a humble acknowledgment of the power of God. If I were getting ready to pose some of the questions that arise in “The Reckoning,” I think I’d provide a preface of humility too.

The perfectly logical questions will no longer be suppressed. Faith without questions isn’t a mature faith. Humans were created with an intellect. So we ask questions like, “How long?” “How long before this curtain is lifted?” “How long before this burden is lifted?” “How long until the reckoning?” The bridge is an intellectual acknowledgment of the paradoxical character of God (the God of Love and Thunder), which we won’t fully understand this side of heaven. Apparently, that’s why they call it faith.

“The Same Song” is dedicated to the Square Peg Alliance and the kinship of community that results when believers realize that to some extent, we are all the same. It’s fun hearing references that might only be apparent to those that have supported the SPA as long as some of us around here have. Not surprisingly, we see that the threads which solidify the Pegs are the same threads that inspire those of us who buy the records.

Counting Stars is a paradox in that the songwriting is perhaps as personal as we’ve heard from Andrew Peterson. On the other hand, there’s a clear theme which examines the promises and faithfulness of a timeless God working his will in time and through humanity. Andrew Peterson’s most dedicated supporters understand his gift for writing poetically, with thoughtful double entendres and rich literary allusions. Still, despite being written and recorded expeditiously, the project may turn out to be as fertile as any of his projects, with levels, vistas, and perspectives which overwhelm our senses.

Counting Stars is a love letter to someone and everyone. It’s personal, yet universal. It’s candid and clear, yet mysterious. It illustrates a promise made and a promise fulfilled. The stars Abraham saw when God made the Promise are the same stars that guided the three wise men to Jesus, the same stars our fathers and grandfathers witnessed on the night that we were born. Those stars represent the faithfulness of the one true God, the Father of the risen Christ, who loves and redeems us despite our rebellious nature and our intermittent unbelief.

Pre-order the album here.


36 Comments

  1. PaulH

    With only a week or so away from receiving my very own copy, I wait to dive into this musical theme park of emotion and thought. I look forward to diving into the album, hoping it comes with a map so I don’t miss anything!
    We (My Family and I) went to Myrtle Beach this past week for my daughter’s 16th, and I noticed something about music and location. Music can sound complete;y different when my surroundings changed. I felt like I heard AP’s “Far Country” and “Clear to Venus” for the first time while laying in the sun with waves crashing around me. It was refreshing and interesting. (This was also the case for Ben Shive’s Album which I pegged as twilight/evening music, but came to mean something else in the bright sunshine of the beach, which also highlighted Ben’s love of Brian Wilson)

  2. Toni W

    Curt, I am so glad that you could put it all into words; because I sure couldn’t. What Curt said, everybody.

  3. Dan K

    Thanks Curt.
    Okay I’m drooling on my keyboard at work over this. “I.T. cleanup cubicle #2.” I feel like a judge at on food network who keeps getting handed dishes of ambrosia and was just told the best yet is on it’s way. 1 week, maybe it’ll ship early.

  4. Tony from Pandora

    Tommy Boy- ‘picking up on the sarcasm, cause I’m laying it on pretty thick.’ Is that the quote

  5. Alyssa

    ‘What this man has done for “Christian” music is not so much tell the truth, as it has been to tell the truth in a true way.’

    Great statement. I recently told someone that Andrew’s music says what I already knew to be true, but he says it in a way that makes it easier to believe. Maybe that’s why I particularly love “Fool with a Fancy Guitar.” That’s the one I like to put on repeat, so that I can be told over and over who I am in Christ.

    I enjoy the kinship I feel with all you other AP listeners out there. God’s goodness is evident to me in the way he works affection among total strangers who happen to be brothers and sisters in Christ. Thanks, Andrew, for providing a community where that can happen.

  6. Jill

    love this.
    and if that wasn’t technically your “review”…. I’ll be curious to see what IS.
    😉

    (I agree with Paul about how the music fits into our surroundings. I listened to Resurrection Letters while driving long stretches through the southern outer banks last week. The music seemed new and fresh and PERFECT for those particular days)

    can’t wait to get my copy in the mail!

  7. Cory

    Does anyone else feel weird about the “tier” system? Yes, I know Derek Webb did it – it kinda felt weird there too.
    I love AP’s music – it has helped me immensely over the past decade with both my Christian maturity and my musical maturity. But it feels kinda gross to pay for time.
    One of the many biblical, counter-cultural themes that resound through his music seems to be patience. Isn’t that one of the fruits of the spirit? Having an “immediate download” option (for only $75) seems a little contradictory.
    This is really not a big deal to me, I just wanted to see if anyone else felt this way or if I’m too sensitive.
    I definitely intend to purchase this CD (or download from RR), but I can wait a couple of weeks.

  8. Aaron Roughton

    Curt, please please please listen to every album that I’m about to buy and write one of these non-reviews for it. Your listening skills are brilliant, if not downright nerdy. I was already excited about this album. I was planning on waiting to get my copy at the release concert in Nashville (probably one that Andrew fired from the stage in a blast of pyrotechnics or fell from the stadium roof with the confetti and balloons). But I may have to buy it now. Right now. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here Curt. Here’s hoping that you share more often.

  9. Profile photo of Pete Peterson

    Pete Peterson

    @pete

    Cory,

    I understand what you mean.

    Here’s the thing. People ask us all the time how they can do more to help support the Rabbit Room and the artists we’re associated with. We’ve toyed with ideas like tip boxes and donation buttons but when it comes down to it, I think we’d rather see people actually get something for the money they so graciously give. Something like the tier system is a way for that to happen. It’s a way for those that wish to support Andrew (and the Rabbit Room) in a more substantial way to do so. And it makes us happy because we get to provide people with great content and some unique experiences in return.

  10. Profile photo of Russ Ramsey

    Russ Ramsey

    @russramsey

    Cory, and anyone else interested in the topic of tiering. I too am glad you asked this.

    Knowing many of the artists who make their living doing what the Rabbit Room supports, I can’t help but admire the cost they pay to do what they do, which in turn gives us our playlists. (Think school teacher without summers off.)

    Again, this is just me talking, but I would love for our resident artists to do much better financially than they do through the usual avenues of merchandise sales.

    Why? For me, its a matter of fairness.

    Let’s take AP as an example. He likes it when we talk about him and money in the third person. 🙂

    He’s probably earned, oh, maybe $50 bucks from me as I’ve bought records and gone to shows. Have I gotten my $50 bucks worth out of him? (Crude way to talk, I know, but bear with me). His art (and that of so many others) has enriched my life, strengthened my marriage, crystalized my sense of call, rebuked my foolish inner man-child and shown me truths I wouldn’t have seen otherwise, and if there were a wise, all-knowing arbiter calling in what I probably really owed AP in real life, I shudder to think what that bill would look like.

    The weirdness for me, quite honestly, comes when all that stands between me and great art that speaks to my soul is $15.

    I mean, if we’re talking about Fergie, okay, $15 it is. But we’re not. 🙂

    I like the tiered system not for all the extra stuff you get, but because for so many who avail themselves of it, they are given an opportunity to try and compensate an artist in a manner that is more fair to consumer who has already benefited so much. In other words, we can pay more.

    Plus, a meet and greet with an artist isn’t just a chance to spend time with them. Its a chance to spend awkward time with them. And how do you put a price on that?

    Am I right, AP?

  11. Amy @ My Friend Amy

    I really like what you said Russ…great art gives us gifts there is no monetary value to. And I do like the tier system, though it broke my heart a little this time because I’m really in a tough spot financially–what with things like Hutchmoot also demanding my limited resources. 🙂 No worries, I may not eat next month, but I’m happily listening to Counting Stars right now.

    Before there was a tier system, I’d just buy multiple copies of the CD give it to everyone I knew and I’m always always recommending AP (and other artists I love). But sometimes it feels like so little and like it doesn’t make much difference. So being able to give a little more in this way works for me.

  12. Aaron Roughton

    “Plus, a meet and greet with an artist isn’t just a chance to spend time with them. Its a chance to spend awkward time with them. And how do you put a price on that?”

    Still laughing Russ. As for your other comments, the same could be applied to preachers. I’m picturing a tiered offering plate. Literally. Like a wedding cake.

  13. Jud

    Sometimes I feel like I should be mailing AP a check monthly given the regular influence his work has on my life. From that perspective, these tiers are bargains.

  14. Toni W

    These folks give way more than they get back from what I can see. I like to support in any way that I can. I have been gifted in spirit, more than any amount of money I have spent. Rock on, Rabbit Room.

  15. Mark L.

    Curt, I love getting your thoughts. Your part about the contrarian lyrics reminds me of the opening lines to the song “Labor of Love”.

    Though I haven’t heard this album yet, I also love how you compare it to older Andrew Peterson songs. Also, I think we should add “bone” to list of Andrew’s favorite words:

    “… through the heat as thick as the blood that moves my BONES…”
    “Let it soak them down to the BONE…”
    “Margie get in, these BONES are dry…”
    “After the last bullet tears through flesh and BONE…”
    “Peace like a river in a valley of BONES…”
    “… dinosaur BONES in the flower bed…”
    “We are more than flesh and BONE…”
    “They say the sounds gonna shake my BONES…”

    Did I miss any? Also, I’ve also noticed from the books that Andy likes the word “purchase”. Does this post make me a nerd or a fan freak?

  16. Mike P

    Curt- thank you. You wrote what I couldn’t put into words. Well done.

    Russ- Well said, and very true. Many of Andrew’s songs, as well as a select few other artists have added more beauty and richness to my life than things I’ve paid far more money for.

  17. Mark Anderson

    I thought I’d wait and buy the cd when it was officially released. Then the tier structure changed slightly and I caved. I’m not sorry. At all.

    As others have noted, I’ve certainly spent $ 75 on more foolish things – a football game ticket, cable tv, a book I’ve not yet cracked open and so forth. So with $ 75 spent, I have three copies of the album coming – one remains mine and two go into the field to share with friends who aren’t Andy-fied yet. And in doing so I’d like to think I made the next album more possible and perhaps provided just an extra moment or two of unhurried contemplation for AP and the rest of the team – time that perhaps puts the next song they work on over the top. Yet again.

    I had the delightful experience of playing “fool with a fancy guitar” at work the other day. The guy in the cubicle next to me was whistling it a few minutes later. I said (semi-incredulously) “you LIKED that”? Came the reply: “I LOVED that”. So that’s one of the spares gone….

    As for Counting Stars itself, run don’t walk to get the album. Play it. Let the “obvious” songs hit you on first listen – that doesn’t make them bad or simple songs, just the hooks or vocal lines resonate most quickly. For me that was definitely “Fool with a Fancy Guitar” and “In the Night” which hit ‘repeat’ on the player instantaneously. My 9 year old sings both at the top of his lungs now from the back of the car and that makes me grin like an idiot – which, oddly, is about the only way I know how to grin.

    But on third fourth and fifth listening to the record, some of the quieter / gentler songs begin to open up in new ways and I have to say that my fav’s now are – to my ear anyway – the less obvious songs. “Magic Hour” is unbelievably beautiful. “God of My Fathers” (as noted) makes me want to simultaneously dance AND weep as I watch my own father literally passing away day by day after a full life of faithfulness and commitment. I want to be like him and Andy has made me strive harder for the goal while at the same time reminding me to look beyond my earthly father to the Greater Father we’ll know fully one day very soon.

    Wasn’t disappointed by spending the early dollars at all. Sorry I won’t be enjoying an awkward coffee with AP but the travel and that lofty tier elude my will and my wallet. So if you have the $ 75 (and not everybody can spare it these days I know), spend it on this. Today.

  18. whipple

    Hey, awkward time is where the best stuff gets the opportunity to happen. People actually have the option of getting to know one another.

    And Mark, that makes you a nerd. Classic nerd.

  19. Jennifer

    Curt, I agree with others here. I love your reviews and look forward to them. I can’t wait to get my own copy of this new cd. I’m so jealous of everyone who already has it. And, I like the tiers. Wherever the idea began, it was a good one. I always appreciate having options in life.

    And thanks Aaron for making me laugh. I think whenever I meet anyone, anytime or anywhere, I’m awkward. It’s my gift in life. Just the same, I appreciate getting to have those moments. Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers… or rather the Squarepegs. It has often made my day.

  20. Profile photo of Curt McLey

    Curt McLey

    @curtmcley

    One of the best parts of writing articles in The Rabbit Room is reading the thoughtful feedback that results. Thank you for your thoughts.

    Paul H: I remember rounding a turn in Nevada, high above the beautiful Colorado River, and being blown away by, of all things, a Styx song, called “Fooling Yourself” was just kicking in. It was that acoustic guitar part in which the lead singer says, “Relax, eeeeeasy.” The combination of the scenery and the instrumental introduction just blew me away. I’d always liked that song, but my surroundings elevated it from that point forward, that I’m still thinking about it over ten years later. I hope I haven’t damaged my reputation be admitting to a Styx fixation.

    Toni W: I often feel like a blubbering goofball, trying to find the words. But from the time I started trading records and talking music with my buddies Ronnie and Kevin as a ten year-old boy, I’ve been passionate about it. Some things never change. “Gifted in the Spirit.” I like that.

    Dan K: I wish you an early shipment! By the way, I am a Food Network fanatic. Iron Chef America is great.

    Tony from Pandora – You nailed it, Tony. Have you heard the AP song, or did you just guess the correct line from the context of my post?

    Alyssa – Thanks for your thoughts. I too appreciate the kinship that results from a shared love of music. I have some very dear friends I’ve met through Andrew Peterson concerts and through the Andrew Peterson Message Board. Our love and appreciation for the music and our shared faith in Christ is the bond that made that possible. Now, it’s happening in The Rabbit Room. That’s pretty amazing.

    Amanda from Michigan – From one nerd to another, Thanks.

    Jill – Time reveals further thoughts as the project sinks in further, so I can see myself getting inspired again after I’ve listened for a few more weeks. Finding words won’t be a problem. Finding the right words may.

    Cory – Thanks for being willing to share your thoughts, which were framed in a kind way. I look at the tiers as a consumer choice. For those that see the value and/or wish to provide a higher level of support, it’s an opportunity. I’m one that believes choice is a good thing in the consumer market place. A believer has an obligation and right to support his family, and most of us understand that it isn’t easy. As a Rabbit Room author, I know I could have received a complimentary download. I write for other review websites and could have received the CD that way. But I chose to support Andrew Peterson through one of the tiers-not for the goodies-but as a so small token appreciation.

    Aaron Roughton – You are always very encouraging, my friend. Thanks. And it was great having lunch with you and your family. I’m looking forward to talking more at Hutchmoot.

    Jaclyn – Beauty. I like that word.

    Amy – Nerds unite!

    Pete – Thanks for responding. Well put, good Sir.

    Russ – This was an all-star worthy post, but I particularly enjoyed this:

    The weirdness for me, quite honestly, comes when all that stands between me and great art that speaks to my soul is $15.

    Jud – I’m sure AP would not object. Ha.

    Mark L. – YES! I have often thought about that opening line as a prime example of my point. I wish I had recalled it when I wrote the article. Thanks for the reminder. When you contradict the most famous Christmas hymn of all, that’s rather contrary, I’d say. “It was NOT a Silent Night!” Now that’s funny.

    Mike P. – Thanks for your kind words. I’m looking forward to further dialogue after we all have a few more listens under our belt.

    Canaan Bound – I second your motion on Aaron Roughton. He is one funny dude. By the way, for those that may not know, Aaron is a supremely talented singer/songwriter. I own his CD and his song “What I Want” alone is worth the price of the record. Aaron has a sound reminiscent of Chris Rice, which I consider a high compliment. You can hear the songs and buy his CD here:

    http://www.aaronroughton.com/Music.html

    Mark Anderson
    – I loved reading your mini- review (all reviews are “mini” compared to mine) and identified with it. Your listening process is very similar to my own. I like listening on the road with a lot of wide open space, which seems to keep my mind open and receptive.

    Whipple – We seem to have a lot of nerds around here. HA.

    Jennifer – Your words encourage me a lot. Thanks so much for taking the time to weigh in.

  21. Dan R.

    “Hey, that’s the mother bear of all promises, no? ”

    Curt, this was wonderful! Many thanks for this and all your contributions to what happens here. And yes! You can get a witness!

    Rabbit Trail alert: On a different note, did anyone else here, when they heard the title of this album, immediately think of that outstanding Newsboys song The Orphan? (I say outstanding not only because of the way it is profoundly set apart from anything else produced by them on the Devotion record)
    “Then I slept one night in Abraham’s field and dreamt there was no moon the night he died, counting stars.”

  22. kelli

    Curt…your review of this is absolutely beautiful.

    And Russ…thank you for your explanation of tiering. It enlightened me and caused me to up my tiering purchase:)

    And since I just did that and just downloaded the album and have been listening to it while cleaning the house, I just have one word for this cd…brilliant. Piercingly brilliant. (and i haven’t even really had a chance to dig into the lyrics yet!!)

    Can’t wait to sit down with the lyrics, Curt’s review, my original RR mug and get pulled into the realms of Home.

  23. Pracades

    Curt, I love the comparisons you made in this album to all the other albums. i found myself doing that too while listening. We must be on the same wavelength because you compared songs equally to what I have been doing.

    The one I have been listening to over and over is “In the Night,” in which I also felt a musical relationship to probably my favorite AP song, “High Noon.” Love & Thunder is probably my favorite album, definitely the most listened to, and everytime I get to the lines, “All praise to the fighter of the night
    Who rides on the light
    Whose gun is the grace of the God of the sky,” I get choked up and start to cry because of the power in those words. I find myself doing the exact same thing on the closing lines of ‘In The Night’, “I can see the Son of Man Descending and the sword He swings is brighter than the dawn.”

    A lot of probablys in there, I know, but really, how can you decisively say, “This is my all-time favorite AP song,” when they all carry so much value and weight in your world and all have different implications at different points in your life?!

  24. Profile photo of Curt McLey

    Curt McLey

    @curtmcley

    Mark L. – I don’t think you received props for your astute research on bone (s). The next time I see you, remind me; I have your AP nerd medallion. And I will teach you the secret handshake.

    Dan R. – I’m not familiar with “The Orphan,” but will keep my eyes and ears open for it.

    Kelli – Thanks for reading.

    Joe – That’s the spirit!

    PracadesAll praise to the fighter of the night, who rides on the light, whose gun is the grace of the God of the sky.

    That line moves me too. Welcome to the nerd club. Listening to “High Noon” became an Easter tradition for me long ago. I wrote about it in some detail:

    http://www.rabbitroom.com/?p=1808

    Finally, I thought many of you may have some interest in reading what great singer/songwriter Alan Levi had to say about Counting Stars:

    http://allenlevi.wordpress.com/2010/08/21/a-letter-to-andrew-peterson/

  25. Pracades

    Curt–just wanted to add, also an Easter tradition for me…last year I linked to your page and sent an email out to all my friends encouraging them to do the same.

    Although this year I will have to add Jason Gray’s “Everything sad is coming untrue” to the Easter line-up…I know this is a post all about Andrew 😉 but the imagery in that song of the angels laying the soldiers down to hand the King his crown is unbelievable.

  26. Pracades

    Oh and Mark L…have you had a chance to listen to the album yet? You can add some “bone” verses to your list!

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