Song of the Day: Eric Peters


This song, from Eric Peters’s Chrome is a perfect compliment to the discussion in yesterday’s post about Magnolia. It’s about pain, and anger, and regret. And it’s beautiful. It also features a reference to one of my favorite lines by Frederick Buechner:

“The story of any one of us is in some measure the story of us all.”

Both that quote and this song, called “I Had To Tell You”, are wonderful illustrations of why art that’s painful and difficult is worth grappling with. Thanks for the great song, Eric.

(Chrome by Eric Peters is available in the Rabbit Room Store.)

I Had To Tell You by Eric Peters

I’ve had chains wrapped around me for the last seven years
I crowned myself Messiah since Messiah was not near
I shook my fist at heaven, I told God to go to hell
There was so much that I had to say but had kept it to myself

I had to tell you how I hated you that day
But I had to learn how hard it was for me to say
It hurts even now to know those words came from my mouth
But I had to tell you

Though I walked in the darkness, the darkness was disguised
All the stars before me were a homemade set of skies
Then a window opened and the sky burst into flame
I could not bear to face you, I was naked and ashamed

So I had to tell you how I hated you that day
But I had to learn how hard it was for me to say
It hurts even now to know those words came from my mouth
But I had to tell you

Now standing in the ruins is a lily undisturbed
Owning nothing but its life and a humble place on earth
Born to bear beauty unto the great and to the small
Its story, in some measure, is the story of us all

I had to tell you
I had to tell you

Pete Peterson is the author of the Revolutionary War adventure The Fiddler’s Gun and its sequel Fiddler’s Green. Among the many strange things he’s been in life are the following: U.S Marine air traffic controller, television editor, art teacher and boatwright at the Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch, and progenitor of the mysterious Budge-Nuzzard. He lives in Nashville with his wife, Jennifer, where he's the Executive Director of the Rabbit Room and Managing Editor of Rabbit Room Press.


  1. Andrew Peterson


    I love this one, too. For more insight into the songs on this album, straight from the horse’s mouth, be sure and download the exclusive Rabbit Room Podcast for CHROME. Eric’s comments on the songs are a great companion to the experience of this record.

    Here’s the link.

  2. Jill Phillips

    I love this song. I told Eric that the first time I heard it I was running on my usual route. When the line about crowning myself Messiah came on it was so good I just threw my hands up in the air and yelled out loud. I am sure the drivers going by thought I was certifiable. Go get this record right now if you don’t have it, and while you are at it get his previous album Scarce. They are staples in our house.

  3. Eric Peters

    Thanks, Pete.
    Magnolia was indeed hard to watch. I’ve only seen it once (I know, I need to see it again), but that final scene exudes much hope and brilliant light, something my soul craves.

    Speaking of difficult, I have yet to summon the courage to play this song live due to the lyrics you see above. Perhaps I’m too timid, and I don’t give an audience (I play 99% of my shows in church venues) enough credit to decipher my intent, but still there’s that small fear in me that I will be misunderstood. Criticism is one thing, misunderstanding is another. I realize I cannot be everything to everyone, but I hope that my work – art, perhaps – is worth every bit of grappling. Yes, as AP points out, the CHROME podcast helps shed light on the song (and the overall album).

    Mathe pathein. Learn to struggle.

  4. Janna Barber


    Our women’s Bible study has been working through Ephesians this semester. This morning we were on chapter 3. Verse 16 made me think about your song “Chrome” and verse 18 brought to mind “Kansas.” And this is what I love about your music — all the truth, purposefully shared. You told the story of this song well here:, as well as in the podcast.

    Someone said in the Magnolia post about how it would not be so powerful if the infraction was a minor thing like saying “butt.” Similarly, a God able to withstand our anger and forgive our betrayal is what makes the gospel the greatest story ever told, and our Jesus unlike any other prophet or (little g) god others may worship.

    Maybe you’ll feel extra brave Sunday night?! We’re super excited about the show and introducing you to some new ears.

  5. Peter B

    Yesterday was a shining rain-washed celebration of life, and I knew it was past time for some Chrome. What a great surprise to know everyone else was enjoying it too 🙂

    Thanks, Eric, for reaching so deep and creating this little piece of beauty. I shall play it again in your honor as we head down to New Orleans this weekend.

  6. PaulH

    I have slowly been enjoying Eric’s body of art and this newest was incredible.
    While driving on a day trip one time back in the Fall, she only heard a line or two and immediately came to the wrong conclusion. I told her to stop with me and let’s really listen to this together. I knew what the song was saying, I just wanted to see it come to fruition in my wife’s face.
    Then we noticed something. Not only do you have to listen to the song in context but one thing we both noticed is the next track, “Come Back a Fool” sounds like God’s response to “I Had To Tell You”

  7. amy

    thank you, pp, for sharing. thank you, ep, for sharing the song. glad i could read the “context” through the link janna provided.

    the song brings the tears as i think about recent loss, and how experiencing such loss has left me struggling but desiring to deepen my faith.

    great post!

  8. David H

    “Similarly, a God able to withstand our anger and forgive our betrayal is what makes the gospel the greatest story ever told, and our Jesus unlike any other prophet or (little g) god others may worship.”

    This reminded me of another film that gave me an “a-ha moment” on the relationship of Christian to Christ. Robert Duvall, in “The Apostle,” has a scene where he is alone in the attic being angry with God. His mother, a couple floors below says: “That is my son that is. I tell ya ever since he was an itty bitty boy, sometimes he talks to the Lord and sometimes he yells at the Lord, tonight he just happens to be yellin at him.”

    As Sonny says in the film, there is no commandment against shouting at God. And without God’s ability to accept human anger and turn it to his own purpose we would simply have an alienated creator. Instead, we have Jesus.

    What’s great and, perhaps, a little dangerous about Eric’s lyrics is that they are open rather than closed. They could be about me or about you. They could be about an individual or The Church. They could be about a broken human or divine relationship. What they seem to be about depends quite a bit on where I am when I hear them.

    There are undoubtedly ways to make safer songs. But all too often that seems to rob them of their strength.

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