The Band Perry is composed of siblings: lead vocalist and guitarist Kimberly Perry, bass guitarist Reid Perry and drummer Neil Perry. The group signed to Republic Nashville in August 2009 and released its debut single "Hip to My Heart" the same month. This is the trio's second single; which was given a release date of June 7, 2010.
Kimberly Perry told The Boot
about this cut: "That song works on so many levels and means different things to different people. It was just one of those songs that you felt like was meant to be on planet earth. We were just real humble to have the pen and paper in hand when it was ready to come, and for us it is a statement of contentment. We finished that song and just looked at each other and said, 'How cool is this that we were able to put feet to our dreams?' So many people work so hard for so long and for whatever reason are not able, or don't have the opportunity to access their dreams. So for us it was a statement of you know what, if it all ends at this moment for whatever reason even at our young ages, we've gotten to live and love so well and so completely. And that's what it means to us."
Kimberley Perry told The Boot the story behind the song: "'If I Die Young' is actually the first song that we had penned for the album. It defines an early chapter of our music career. 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, twenty years or two hundred.
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."
According to Billboard magazine, this was the fifth song with "die," or a form of the word, in its title to top the country chart. The previous four were:
1955 - "Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young," Faron Young.
1971 - "The Year That Clayton Delaney Died," Tom T. Hall.
1994 - "Live Until I Die," Clay Walker.
2004 - "Live Like You Were Dying," Tim McGraw.
Kimberley told PopEater about the siblings' songwriting process: "We all bring something really different to the writing room, based around what we play and our experiences and just what we're feeling that day. Reid contributes a lot to the chord structure. Neil always brings in lyrical ideas, mandolin melodies, and I like to feel like I bring melody into the room as well. It's a funny thing writing with your brothers and I'm sure, for them, writing with their sister. There are really no secrets in the Band Perry because the genesis of the song should begin with everybody pouring out their experiences on the table, their emotions. Sometimes, it's fun to drag something dramatic up in front of your brother and sister. It gets us to the right place. We love creating music together."
The song's music video was directed by David McClister and shows the band setting Kimberly Perry in a canoe before pushing it off into the river. The singer is holding a book containing poems by Tennyson, including The Lady of Shalott. Kimberley explained to PopEater: "We loved the imagery in Tennyson 's The Lady of Shalott. A few weeks before we sat down and wrote 'If I Die Young,' I read that poem over and over. It's always been one of my favorites with really romantic but bittersweet imagery. It was more about the visuals in that poem than anything else."
Kimberly Perry recalled writing the song to Billboard magazine: "It was basically a cloudy day in East Tennessee where the boys and I call home. A lot of times before I start writing a lyric, I'll start writing in free-verse poetry. I find that it's not as binding as a three-and-a-half-minute song - you can get a lot of good brainstorming out in that way.
On this particular day, I was thinking about what my funeral would look like if it were mine to plan, and it grew into this idea. It was such a gorgeous moment of contentment that was hitting me so hard in the heart. I began to contemplate the idea that if it all ended at this moment, I'd done everything that I set out to do so far. I was very aware that I had so many other aspirations but for whatever reason if they didn't happen, that I had done everything that I needed to do.
I had brainstormed in my little notebook and I began to see this song take shape. I came up with the melody and ran downstairs and said, 'Hey, boys, play this with me!' It was one of the most special days in my life."
Kimberley has written poetry since she was a kid, but this was the first successful song that she wrote by herself. She told Billboard magazine that the process of writing this song taught her a lot about being a writer. She explained: "It had all this interesting meter and internal rhyme and from the mechanics of writing, it taught me so much. It also taught me to communicate not only on a metaphorical level, which I've always done a lot. Every line in the song is 100% realism, but then there is also some deeper metaphor underneath if folks choose to see that."
The Band Perry won the Single of the Year award at the 2011 CMA Awards for this song. The sibling trio was also awarded New Artist of the Year, while Kimberly Perry claimed an additional Song of the Year trophy for penning this tune.
Cory Monteith, who played Finn Hudson on Glee
, died after a drug overdose on July 13, 2013. Naya Rivera performed this song
as her character Santana Lopez in the "The Quarterback" episode of the TV series in honor of Cory Monteith.
Following Naya Rivera's disappearance and death in July 2020 while boating on California's Lake Piru, the Glee
version of "If I Die Young" saw a surge of views on YouTube. The 33-year-old's body was recovered on July 13, 2020, the 7-year anniversary of Cory Monteith's passing.