When producer Gabe Scott and I first convened to begin recording Far Side Of The Sea in the summer of 2015, I had very few complete songs to offer, and most certainly needed to write a few new ones. From the beginning, my vision for the dual project-album was to echo, if not elaborate on, the various stories of inanimate, refused objects and overlooked people I was writing about in the album’s photo-essay companion book, Far Side Of The Sea: A Photographic Memory.
I had started writing the lyrics for “Farthest Shore” some weeks before, but had made no headway on either a chorus or an overall melody, so I asked Gabe if we could try writing together. He began playing an idea of his: “Is there a change coming over me?” So, sitting in his studio together, Gabe on piano, me on the couch with pen and pad, we began chipping away at this song. We made the verse lyrics work with the melody he was playing, and the chorus he had written separately was a major addition.
If hope and grace do not exist there on that shore, they exist no place in life.Eric Peters
I don’t know if a song can be self-fulfilling prophecy, but in the case of “Farthest Shore,” in hindsight, it comes astonishingly close to that achievement. What I did not know then, I know now. In Psalm 139, from which the album title and this song derive, David wrote that he could go nowhere, could do nothing, to escape or hide from God’s presence. I understand that that can be an unwelcome sentiment for folks, for it has unfortunately been construed to be a threatening image: an angry God watching us, waiting, relishing any opportunity to punish or squeeze. But in the case of David, we see a broken, needy man, penitent to the point of tears, humbled to the shore of an altogether beautiful and new land, changed forever and completely because of kindness.
I imagine myself, akin to David, lost and in emotional turmoil, pained by the truth of not only moral weakness, but captive to the wounding and wounded thoughts and decisions any one of us is capable of at any moment. If hope and grace do not exist there on that shore, they exist no place in life. Fighting and struggling against grace, an exercise at which I excel, is like swimming against the ocean current; it is impossible to break free of its pull no matter how strong or skilled or entitled or above it I think I am.
Eric Peters, affectionately called "Pappy" by those who love him, is the grand old curmudgeon of the Rabbit Room. But his small stature and often quiet presence belie a giant talent. He's a songwriter of the first order, and a catalogue of great records bears witness to it. His last album, Birds of Relocation, blew minds and found its way onto “year’s best” lists all over the country. When he's not painting, trolling bookstores, or dabbling in photography, he's touring the country in support of his latest record, Far Side of the Sea.