Newly released to American pop radio after dominating the country charts last year, If I Die Young is the second single by country newcomers: The Band Perry.
Already certified 2x platinum, you feel such a success is the most natural thing for a song of If I Die Young’s caliber.
“If I die young,” Kimberly Perry starts the song that she wrote by herself, “bury me in satin, lay me down in a bed of roses, sink me in a river at dawn, send me away with the words of a love song.”
The opening lyric sets the hypothetical tone of the acoustic-leaning song. And it is through that tone that the narrator, Kimberly, continues her story. “Lord, make me a rainbow, I’ll shine down on my mother. She’ll know I’m safe with you when she stands under my colors.”
The whole song is a testament to Kimberly Perry’s command of language and crafting interesting images that do not feel forced. On the contrary, the whole song, though the theme might be morbid to some, is a jubilation to life. And everything in it fits like the pieces of a puzzle. If I Die Young boasts very sharp lyrics with highly imaginative detail, building a story of a girl who’s contemplating how it would be if she were to die young.
On the second verse, the narrator laments on the fact that she never knew love. “There’s a boy here in town, says he’ll love me forever. Who would have thought forever could be severed by the sharp knife of a short life? Well, I’ve had just enough time.”
And as is natural with everyone thinking about death, the prospect of value comes up. It’s a recurrent topic how the things you own get more valuable when you pass away. And that issue is tackled in If I Die Young as well.
A penny for my thoughts, oh no, I’ll sell ’em for a dollar
They’re worth so much more after I’m a goner
And maybe then you’ll hear the words I been singing
Funny, when you’re dead how people start listening
And then the song comes full circle with the narrator singing the chorus one last time before elaborating on what the love song should be: “The ballad of a dove, go with peace and love. Gather up your tears, keep ’em in your pocket… save them for a time when you’re really gonna need them, oh”
If I Die Young might be a song with death in its title but it’s mostly about living. It’s not about the narrator inviting the listener to live to the fullest, but it’s more saying that: “even though my life was cut short, I am satisfied with the time I’ve had – I’ve had just enough time.”
Nothing is more testament to how people perceive If I Die Young than the response the three members of The Band Perry received because of that song. The most famous story regarding the song comes in the form of a letter than Kimberly received, containing a necklace with a letter from an eighteen year old girl who lost her best friend to cancer. The girl was contemplating suicide, mourning her friend, and If I Die Young came on the radio. The girl heard so much life in that song that she sent The Band Perry her most prized possession, the necklace her friend gave her before passing away.
If I Die Young is also a song that touched people from older generations. While performing the song at a concert, The Band Perry saw an older woman standing in the scorching heat with a sign on which the words: “She died young” were written, signed with her daughter’s name.
Kimberly Perry delivers the song brilliantly. She doesn’t under or over-sing. She handles the melody with restraint and impeccable nuances. Her slightly weathered voice adds magnificence to the song, as well as the subtle harmonies that her brothers deliver in the background.
You cannot listen to If I Die Young without feeling something. It is a song that crosses age boundaries and touches everyone regardless of personal background or even musical preference. We’ve all had someone who died young. It is a song that calls after you to live and enjoy life. It calls on you to love your life and to always have no regrets. It’s no wonder it stands out on pop radio among all the electronic music being played. It rises way beyond clubbing songs that you would hear before and after it, simply because this is a raw, authentic and real.
Listen to If I Die Young here:
Beautiful review of a beautiful song. You recommend it to me months ago, and I really like the lyrics, so thanks for the recommendation again! 🙂
Thank you Lyd! And you’re most welcome! It is such a beautiful song, as you said. And I’m very happy it’s doing well on the American pop charts. It means more people get to hear it and enjoy it like we did 🙂
I love that this ended with Tennyson’s “The Lady of Shalott”. Very clever. And ironic. In the poem, the lady sails down the river because she’s tired of living in isolation, because she wants to experience life, except that she drowns and dies.
And I love how in the video it seems like she’s sailing down to die, but then she goes back to her life. Completely opposite yet so similar at the same time.
I love this song!
Thank you for the info! Interesting stuff 🙂
I’m glad you like the song. It’s such a great song. I can’t wait till I start hearing it on Lebanese radio.
Great review! I agree completely with the impeccable delivery; what a beautiful voice she has. Quite possibly the most beautiful song I’ve head in my 31 years!
By the way, the rest of the album is brilliant also!
Pingback: Top 13 Songs of 2011 « A Separate State of Mind
Pingback: 2012 Grammy Predictions « A Separate State of Mind
Can someone please help me with the meaning of “What I never did is done”?
Did she never wear her pearls? Is this a symbol? An expression maybe?
Sorry, I’m not really good at understanding songs and poems.