the underappreciated genius of andrew peterson

(i’m not sure that’s the right title for this post, but let’s go with it.)

i’m back with no capital letters, because it felt weird using them last time. i’m not sure which i’ll stick to. expect inconsistency.

anyway, i’ve been listening to a lot of old andrew peterson songs, and i’ve found that he’s actually very clever with words. (i mean, i knew he was a good writer, but i never really thought about this aspect of his writing before.) i’m talking wordplay, puns, humor… i don’t know exactly what the right word to describe this is, but it’ll make more sense once i show you some examples.

well, i realize that falling down ain’t graceful
but i thank the Lord that falling’s full of grace
[ the chasing song ]

this song is full of really good quotes; this one is one of my favorites. i love the way AP phrased this.

i’m not quite sure what jonah chased
but i know he caught the sea
[ the chasing song ]

Jesus chased the moneymen
and he chased his father’s will
he chased my sin to calvary
and he caught it on that hill
[ the chasing song ]

another amazing line! i love the idea of Jesus finally capturing our sin on the cross after chasing it down.

saul, he chased the christians
till his blindness made him see
[ the chasing song ]

you see what i mean about underappreciated genius? 😉 after reading king lear, i’m very interested in metaphors relating to blindness/sight. this is a good one.

give us faith to be strong
give us strength to be faithful
[ faith to be strong ]

(i just found a whole bunch of beautiful quotes from “nothing to say,” but as i’m reserving this post for humor, wordplay, etc. i won’t share those now. *restrains myself*) (just go listen to “nothing to say,” okay?)

in stubborn spite of my stubborn spite
i am loved nonetheless
[ love enough ]

so, the next song i’m looking at is called “loose change” and the whole thing is basically one giant joke…

[ loose change ]

i’d give you all of me to know what you were thinking
and if I had one wish i’d wish i wasn’t sinking here
drowning in this well…

i can’t pick myself up off the ground
i’ve been face down and pushed aside
you know i’d rather just turn tail and run
than lie here in the sun and watch you pass me by
cause i ain’t worth a dime…

but if only i could stand up straight, i wouldn’t have to lie and wait
i’d get up and roll away and never be ignored
i’ve got a feeling that i’m something more than just a piece of copper ore
turning green and looking for the reason i was born

if that makes you smile, go listen to the whole song.

i’ll do my best to try and do my very best for you
it’s the very best that i can do
[ hold up my arms ]

another example of AP’s “genius” (debatable in this case) is that he has an entire song called “serve hymn,” and it goes like this: “so serve him, only serve him, he who rules the morning.”

i mean, i love the song, but that name kinda ruins it for me.

what’s that on the ground?
it’s what’s left of my heart
somebody named Jesus broke it to pieces
and planted the shards
[ just as i am ]

AP often takes expected phrases — like “broken heart” — and twists them in unexpected ways. i never thought that Jesus broke my heart. but… maybe he did. and then buried it. “and they’re coming up green / and they’re coming in bloom”

you were stationed at pearl harbor
a year before the war became the world’s
[ tools ]

if a man has got to listen to the voices of the mob
who are reeling in the throes of all the happiness they’ve got
when they tell you all their troubles have been nailed up to that cross
well then what about the times when even followers get lost?
[ the silence of God ]

i love this song for its powerful imagery and reminder that Jesus knows our sorrows, but i also think this stanza is clever. in a relatable, piercing way.

i wish that i could shake it
i wish that i was free
i wish that i was half the man
i wish that i could be
[ mountains on the ocean floor ]

all our lives we till the ground
until we lay our sorrows down
and watch the sky for rain
[ more ]

i found yet another song which is worth quoting nearly in full! this one intensely amuses me.

[ love is a good thing ]

it knocked me down, it dragged me out, it left me there for dead
it took all the freedom i wanted and gave me something else instead
it blew my mind, it bled me dry, it hit me like a long goodbye
and nobody here knows better than I that it’s a good thing
love is a good thing

it’ll fall like rain on your parade
and laugh at the plans that you tried to make
it’ll wear you down till your heart just breaks…

it’ll wake you up in the middle of the night, it’ll take just a little too much
it’ll burn you like a cinder till you’re tender to the touch
it’ll chase you down, and swallow you whole, it’ll make your blood run hot and cold
like a thief in the night it’ll steal your soul, and that’s a good thing

and through the years i barely fell
i mostly dove right in
i drank so deep from the shallow well
only to thirst again
[ the good confession ]

i mean, it’s true. i fall sometimes, but more often, i see a deep dark pit and decide that it’s the best place to go.

the only way to find your life
is to lay your own life down
[ dancing in the minefields ]

i know that i don’t know what i’m asking
but i long to look you full in the face
[ the reckoning ]

now i’ve got this sorrow and you’ve got that hurt
and we can’t go back to who we were
but could that mean i’m someone new
maybe i can love you better than i failed to do
[ i want to say i’m sorry ]

how does it end when the war that you’re in
is just you against you against you
gotta learn to love, learn to love
learn to love your enemies too
[ be kind to yourself ]

this is an important reminder, and i love the way he phrased it here.

he took one breath
and put death to death
where is your sting, o grave?
how grave is your defeat
[ his heart beats ]

followed by manasseh who had amon
who was a man
who was father of a good boy named josiah
who grandfathered jehoiachin
who caused the babylonian
captivity because he was a liar…
which isn’t exactly true but it rhymes…
[ matthew’s begats ]

that last line isn’t on either recording of this song (or in the lyrics online anywhere). you have to see it live to truly appreciate its beauty.

and there you have it, folks. andrew peterson. the genius.

by the way, his newest books just released (click here to learn more) and the rabbit room (which he founded), a haven for creators, is running an online conference this weekend with tickets at just $20 (yes, i’m kind of crazy with excitement). so go check those out.

until next time,


8 thoughts on “the underappreciated genius of andrew peterson”

  1. THIS POST. YES, MAYA, YES. Underappreciated genius indeed.
    I really want to say something about one of the lines you picked, but I can’t really pick a favorite out of these because they’re all so good. But I do want to say I definitely agree, “Nothing to Say” has beautiful lyrics!
    Anyways, I love this post so much. 🙌🏻🙌🏻

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh yes yes; I just recently started listening to Andrew Peterson’s music and it’s so beautiful! I love his song “Be kind To Yourself”, because I need that reminder A LOT. 😔

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh my goodness, you just started?! *squeals* That means you have so much amazingness left to encounter. *checks list* Here are some of my favorites for new listeners (and yes, I know you didn’t ask for this. Sorry. I couldn’t restrain myself ;)):
      Canaan Bound // Don’t You Want to Thank Someone // Remember Me // Rise Up // Shine Your Light On Me // Steady As She Goes // The Havens Gray (LOTR!) // The Magic Hour // You’ll Find Your Way // The Power of a Great Affection
      Those are some of the lesser-known ones that are worth it. (That’s not to say the others don’t deserve the hype… Dancing in the Minefields, Is He Worthy, Always Good.. *dies of happiness*)
      *returns from the dead* Yeah, I need it too. I was initially defensive and didn’t like the song, but now it’s one of my favorites.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I don’t mind at all, thank you for sharing! I love his song that his daughter sings; “My Love Has Gone Across The Sea”… so beautiful.

        Liked by 1 person

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