Peter Pan

Album: The First Time (2015)
Charted: 35
  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • Like the song's titular character, this is about a boy who won't grow up. Written by Kelsea Ballerini with Forest Glen Whitehead and Jesse Lee, the singer tells the story of a love interest who won't take responsibility for his actions or stick around.
  • James Matthew Barrie (1860-1937) was a small child and only grew to just over 5 ft 3 inches as an adult. When he was 6-years-old, Barrie's older brother David (his mother's favorite) died two days before his 14th birthday in an ice-skating accident. This left his mother devastated, and Barrie tried to fill David's place in his mother's attentions, even dressing as him and whistling in the manner that he did. Gradually his mother drew comfort in the thought of a boy who would never grow up.

    Barrie was friends with Arthur and Sylvia Llewelyn-Davies and entertained their sons George and Jack regularly with his ability to wiggle his ears and eyebrows. The character of Peter Pan was invented to entertain the two children. Barrie would say, to amuse them that their little brother Peter could fly. He claimed that babies were birds before they were born; parents put bars on nursery windows to keep the little ones from flying away. This grew into a tale of a baby boy who did fly away.

    The first appearance of Peter Pan came in Barrie's novel The Little White Bird, which was serialized in the United States, then published in a single volume in the UK in 1902.

    Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up had its first stage performance on 27 December 1904.

    In 1929, James Barrie signed over the rights of Peter Pan to the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. Since that time, the children's hospital has received a royalty from every production of Peter Pan that hits the stage, in addition to sales of the book and all related products. (Source The Encyclopedia of Trivia).
  • The song's music video was shot in the Las Vegas desert by Kristin Barlowe and features model/actor Nick Davis as Ballerini's daredevil love interest.

    "I loved the idea of having a song about a breakup that wasn't some dramatic cheating or scandal moment. It's the kind of thing where one person just can't emotionally match the other, and that's a sad kind of ending and heartbreak... and that's what I wanted this song and video to capture," said the singer. "Sometimes the thrills of life or youth overrule the thrill of love until someone is truly ready to be in a relationship. This was a fun way to show that side in the video."
  • Kelsea Ballerini wrote the song in late 2013, when she had a songwriting deal with Black River Music Publishing but hadn't yet snared a recording contract. Her co-writers that day, Forest Glen Whitehead and Jesse Lee, had penned one song before that was placed on hold, but never recorded, by Jana Kramer, but had never written with Ballerini before.

    Lee had had the main hook, "You're never gonna grow up. You're never gonna be a man. Peter Pan," for half a year and is unsure why she shared it that day. "I had never written with Kelsea. She didn't have a record deal, and I'd never heard of her," remembered Lee to Billboard magazine. "Usually, us writers in Nashville, we don't bring our favorite idea to unknown people in the room that you don't know if you're going to gel with."

    Lee was confident about the hook, and when she shared it with Ballerini and Whitehead she warned them that if they didn't nail the rest of the song, she would take it back and rewrite it with someone else. "The pressure was on," said Ballerini. "Immediately, I think we all were super-inspired. Whether it's a guy or not, everyone has been in a relationship where someone can't quite match them emotionally, can't quite grow up like the other person can. We probably wrote that song in two hours, if that."
  • This topped the Country chart, climbing to the peak position on September 24, 2016. It was Ballerini's first ever #1 on the tally.
  • The song was inspired by some of the men whom Jesse Lee has encountered in the past. She recalled to The Boot:

    "I had this idea; I don't even really know where it came from. I've met a lot of 'Peter Pans' in my life. My best friend, especially, is still Peter Pan, in his 30s; he always says he inspired it."
  • Ballerini sang this with Lukas Graham at the Grammy Awards in 2017 in a mashup with their song "7 Years," as both songs celebrate childhood wonder.
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