So I was having a bad day. I woke up, for no apparent reason, at 5:30 in the morning, and my brain was already two hours ahead of my body. It was the kind of day that usually lands me in front of the mirror with a mental baseball bat. But on this day, I did not have the wisdom to walk away in defense. Instead, I moved in closer for a beat down. My arms would not reach up to fight, but remained stubbornly, helplessly at my sides. My face, totally unprotected from the oncoming head blow, narrowly dodged clear at the very last second, and I closed my eyes in relief. A minute or two passed and I gained strength enough to push away from the glass and head for the safety of my computer. I put my head down and got to work, hoping to shake off the shadows, but an hour later I found myself crying through the proofread because I hated every single letter on the screen.
Thankfully, my three kids were in school, and I had a lunch date. So when the sobs returned to normal breathing, I got up and took a shower. An hour and one bagel later, I was clean, dressed and made up enough to face the day. I got in my van to head to the restaurant, turned the ignition and searched for available CDs.
Not the time for happy, drummy rock bands, but certainly not come-to-Jesus-worship-time either. What’s left?
How about a little Eric Peters?
Yep, he might just do the trick today. Maybe he can silence the zombies in my head.
So I popped in the disc, and was greeted by a catchy, familiar “Dooh dah do da doo, Dooh dah do da doo” beat. Followed by the words:
One of these days I’m gonna shed my skin
Become somebody who I might have been
Look outside and jump right back in
The very next day
Of their own accord, my fingertips drummed the steering wheel, and the scene through my sunglasses grew brighter as I pulled out of the driveway. Scarce became the perfect soundtrack for that day, each song digging a little deeper to pull me out of my funk. And by the time I reached the restaurant, this human had seen the grace in the sky and was ready to point another in the direction of hope.
My husband first tried to interest me in Eric’s music years ago, when he bought a Ridgely CD after seeing them in concert. I liked a song or two, but it connected more with John than me. Later, when Eric went solo, John kept tabs on him and would always tell me when a new album came out. The thing is–my husband always has something new for me to listen to. That’s what happens when you spend lots of time in a car alone, commuting to and from work. Conversely, what happens when you spend time driving a minivan filled with small children is that you never listen to said music, until you’re really ready.
My readiness came last year in the form of a concert we held for the young married life groups at our church. John had recently joined the church staff and had the idea to bring Eric over for a show. I did not want to be totally clueless in the audience, so the week before, I listened to our CDs enough to know a few choruses. And the concert experience that night won me over.
Imagine sitting in the same room you’d visited a hundred times as Kindergarten leader for children’s worship where you sang words like “higher, higher, higher, higher, higher, higher, lift Jesus higher,” and hearing a short guy in faded jeans and a plain white t-shirt sing “faith feels just like murder.” Not something you’re likely to walk away from without pause.
But the way Eric delivers the line is what makes the impact last. Here’s a guy who writes melodies both the Beach Boys and James Taylor would envy, with meaningful lyrics to boot, whose demeanor and humility suggest someone sincerely seeking affirmation and encouragement. That’s not to say you feel sorry for him (you can’t help but admire a man brave enough to sing falsetto), it’s just that his presence on stage is a serious one, despite the jokes and jibes he makes. Perhaps it’s seeing the emotion he still shows for a song he must have sung a hundred times, and knowing it’s not contrived, that fills your tank equally with amazement and thankfulness.
I left the concert that night determined to make time to get to know this music, and Eric, a little better. And the months of driving (and reading) time it took have certainly paid off. The content and honesty of songs like “The Maginot Line” and “Dust to Dust” impress me every time I hear them. While the sweetness and light of tunes like “Waterloo” and “You Can Be Yourself” help brighten the darker days of my life. The collection is more multifaceted than five CDs should allow, but for me, the best thing about Eric’s music is his questions.
There’s a familiar saying: to get the right answers, you have to ask the right questions. If the saying is true, then I believe Eric Peters has a head start on the rest of us. My favorite of his songs, “Kansas,” asks weighty ones like these:
How deep is love?
And how long and how wide?
Can there be living,
when we’re all dried up inside?
Of course questions and struggles, though not often found in popular Christian music, are really nothing new. But rare is the seeker who can relate the answers God has given him in a lyric like this:
A picket fence with a gate that freely swings wide
Out here is Kansas where the groom takes his bride
Eric and I have exchanged a few e-mails over the last few months, and it seems to me he is as genuine as his music. Of course, the only way you can find out for sure is to invest some time (and maybe even money) in Eric Peters yourself. If you’re a regular Rabbit Roomer, you’ve probably read a pleasant little essay or two by Eric and are no doubt aware of his impressive vocabulary as well as his upcoming album release. For the rest of you out there, Eric’s new record is called Chrome and you can check out the cover art, as well as the rest of his music, at his main website, here. Eric has also detailed, with more than one fancy word, a bit of the recording process for this album on a blog located here. Oh yeah, and for the “already fan”s, be sure and leave some comment love for EP below.