"Better Dig Two"
Is it possible to take the marriage vow "'Til death do us part" too seriously? To refuse to accept the parting death naturally brings? Those are the questions I was left contemplating after listening to the latest country chart-topper from The Band Perry, "Better Dig Two." Because, as was the case with the talented country trio of siblings' breakthrough 2010 hit "If I Die Young," The Band Perry is once again fixated on humanity's frail, mortal frame.
That first hit involved a young woman pondering the prospect of an untimely death. This time around, a newlywed bride at the beginning of what presumably will be a long and happy marriage is also pondering the prospect of death—specifically, of her husband going before she does. In which case, she says bluntly, she doesn't think she'll have the heart to go on living.
"Put me in the ground," singer Kimberly Perry boldly commands in the chorus, "Put me six foot down/And let the stone say/'Here lies the girl whose only crutch/Was loving one man just a little too much'/If you go before I do/I'm gonna tell the gravedigger that he better dig two."
Romantic and noble? Morbid and melancholy? Hyperbolic infatuation? Yes to all.
Still, this bride's fierce determination to stay faithful to her husband until the bitter end (and beyond) is nothing short of a virtue in a culture that often treats marriage as a less-than-permanent arrangement. We see that kind of commitment to the relationship in the first verse ("I told you on the day we wed/I was gonna love you 'til I's dead"), in which she also alludes to saving her virginity for the couple's wedding night ("Made you wait 'til our wedding night/That's the first and the last time I'll wear white").
After that inspiring opening, though, our no-nonsense bride starts dragging images of an executioner and the specter of an uncertain afterlife into the lyrical frame: "So if the ties that bind ever do come loose/Tie 'em in a knot like a hangman's noose/'Cause I'll go to heaven or I'll go to hell/before I'll see you with someone else."
As the song progresses, things gradually grow more grim. The third verse finds this woman suggesting that the untimely loss of her man would naturally lead to her own death: "Well, it won't be whiskey, won't be meth/It'll be your name on my last breath/If divorce or death ever do us part/The coroner will call it a broken heart."
And the next verse: "If the ties that bind ever do come lose/If forever ever ends for you/If that ring gets a little too tight/You might as well read me my last rites."
As for the video, its stark and somber black-and-white style and setting adds a decidedly gothic feel to the proceedings. Shots of the band walking and performing (in black, as though garbed in funeral attire) are intercut with images of a young, newlywed couple. In those, the camera mostly focuses on the bride's expressions, both happy and concerned.
Expressions perhaps a little like mine right now.