Kimberly Perry’s lush, sunny-sounding melodies (backed by her brothers’ harmonization, accordion, banjo, mandolin and slide guitar) golden locks and radiant smile invite a superficial comparison with Taylor Swift. But meaningful musings on death, God and heaven set her apart.
“If I die young, bury me in satin,” she begins somberly. “Lay me down on a bed of roses/Sink me in the river at dawn/Send me away with the words of a love song.”
As the track progresses, we hear a series of reflections about a life ended too soon. Young love gets cut short (“I’m as green as the ring on my little cold finger/I’ve never known the lovin’ of a man/But it sure felt nice when he was holding my hand”). A young mother buries her even younger daughter (“Ain’t even gray, but she buries her baby”). And there’s a nod to the idea that sometimes people perk up only after you’ve passed on (“A penny for your thoughts/Oh no, I’ll sell them for a dollar/They’re worth so much more after I’m a goner”).
“So put on your best, boys, and I’ll wear my pearls/What I never did is done,” she sighs.
Woven into that fabric are thoughts evoking the prospect of heaven and eternal life after death. “Lord, make me a rainbow, I’ll shine down on my mother,” Kimberly poetically suggests. “She’ll know I’m safe with You when she stands under my colors.” She adds, “And I’ll be wearing white when I come into Your kingdom.”
The Band Perry then uses these sad sentiments and spiritual ruminations to tell us that the real point is to embrace the days you’ve been given. “Well, I’ve had just enough time,” Kimberly repeatedly tells us before insisting that those left behind needn’t exhaust themselves in prolonged mourning: “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.”
That carpe diem message seems to be the one the band is most keen to deliver. Speaking to country music website The Boot, Kimberly said of the song, “We penned it on a cloudy day in East Tennessee, which is where we live and do all of our best thinking. We wanted to write a song about making the most of whatever time you’re given—whether it’s two years, 20 years or 200. We really have gotten to live and love at our young ages. ‘If I Die Young,’ for us, is about if it all ends at this moment, look at what we’ve gotten to do. Whatever time we’re given will be absolutely enough as long as we make the most of it.”
The video offers an artsy, Alfred Tennyson- and L.M. Montgomery-injected accompaniment to those thoughts. It ultimately ends on a happy, smiles-all-around note as listeners are left feeling like they’ve gotten both a glimpse of their own grass-like frailty but also the hope that comes from looking forward to a second life with God in heaven.
A postscript: The Band Perry—composed of twentysomething siblings Kimberly, Reid and Neil Perry—has secured a Grammy nomination for this country chart-topper.
After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews.