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Revelations: 'If I Die Young'

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
Jan. 27, 2011 at midnight
Updated Jan. 27, 2011 at 7:28 p.m.

Jennifer Preyss

BY JENNIFER PREYSSHave you ever had a song stuck in your head so long, that once you take time to reflect on the lyrics, you realize how odd the song is? And yet, there's something about the beat, the vocals, the music, the feeling, that no matter how strange the songwriter's words are, you keep on singing along.

The other day, I was driving to the grocery store, flipping through the radio, and a lovely song playing on one of the country stations caught my attention. Now, you should know I rarely listen to country music. But there was something so angelic about the singer's voice that held my attention. I was mesmerized by her voice. And toward the end, I may as well have been wearing a cowboy hat and boots because I was singing (very loud) along with the song.

"If I die young, bury me in satin. 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."

Aren't those poetic words? Morbid, yes. But beautiful, oh, yes. You've just read a chorus from The Band Perry's song, "If I Die Young," which is also one of my new favorite songs right now.

The instant "If I Die Young" came through the radio that day, I was hooked. And I remember feeling sad when it ended.

"That's it? No! Play it again," I thought.

I didn't know who wrote, or sang the song, but I knew when I got home I'd have to look it up.

So, once I finished shopping and returned home, I unloaded my flimsy grocery bags on the floor and raced to my computer to Google, "If I die young song."

There it was on YouTube. I could listen to my heart's content.

I started listening, over and over again. And the creative, songwriter, poet, artist, in my heart started lighting up all over again.

"Think about what she's saying, what is she saying, why does this song get to me?" I asked myself.

After listening about a dozen times, and realizing I was singing along to a song about dying, it hit me. As much The Band Perry's song is poking fun of death, they're singing sweetly about life. About living. About knowing they've "had just enough time." What's more, they're singing about the Lord, and joyously entering the Kingdom of Heaven when it's their time to leave this world.

"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 Band Perry sings. "And I'll be wearing white when I come into your Kingdom."

Ever since I was first introduced to the peculiar lyrics, I've found myself unconsciously humming the tune to myself, genuinely contemplating what it means to die young.

Would I really be missing out on anything if I died earlier than expected, but knowing I lived every day pursuing my dreams? Or would it be worth it to live 100 safe years on the Earth, only to reflect back on my life and realize I never attempted to live as I always dreamed I would. I started asking myself if life was really about quantity, or quality? And if it's truly about quality, then it shouldn't matter when I die, even if I die young.

It occurred to me then that the Lord doesn't promise longevity. He doesn't guarantee we'll live long lives. But He does say that we can experience heaven on Earth, so that must also be true for the young and old alike. I guess what this song did for me is force me to think about God's promises, and ask myself how I want to live, and what's more, about how I want to die. It forced me to pay attention to whether I want to be the kind of person who waits and waits and waits, to live or the person who lives today, right now.

I've decided it's about the quality moments, living outside fear, outside the scrutiny of those around me who may not understand my non-traditionalism. I've decided to live. Then I determined that no matter when I leave this world, I want to leave smiling, content I've lived exactly the right amount of time.

"So put on your best, boys. And I'll wear my pearls."

Jennifer Preyss is a reporter for the Victoria Advocate. You can reach her at 361-580-6535 or jpreyss@vicad.com.

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