The Story Behind The Song: If I Die Tonight

On July 31st, 2014, as I was driving home from my girlfriend’s house after reveling in the terrible glory that is Sharknado 2, I did what I often do and turned on NPR (does that mean I’m a real adult now?). During that drive home I heard the heartwrenching news that an Israeli airstrike hit a school in Gaza killing at least 10 people, many of them children. The school was a designated UN shelter and was supposed to be a safe haven for Palestinians to seek refuge from the war that plagues their homes. Immediately, I was overwhelmed with a mix of sorrow, anger, and confusion about how something so terrible could happen to the most innocent of human beings.

When I got home I hopped online and was immediately sucked into a vortex of stories from both sides of the fight. I came across the story of Farah Baker, a 16 year old girl who live tweeted and instagrammed missile attacks from her home in Gaza (you can read the whole story here). 2 of her posts struck me hard. The first read, “This is in my area. I can’t stop crying. I might die tonight” and the second, “My 6 year old sister has witnessed 3 wars!”. That tidal wave of emotion overtook me once again.

Like many of us here in the USA, I feel a terrible weight of sorrow and anger at the conflict going on in both Iraq and Gaza. I want to be a part of a solution, a part of peace, but I have no idea where to start. I have rarely felt more useless and insignificant than I did that night, so I did the only think I really know what to do in a situation like this, I picked up my guitar and wrote a bunch of words. I didn’t write to make a statement or throw in my two cents, I simply wrote to process. What I wrote was a jumbled mess of angry and sad lyrics, but what what Farah tweeted, “I might die tonight” stuck with me.

A few weeks later I revisited that word vomit with a clearer mind and reworked it. Within an hour I had the framework for this song. Later, my friend Quinn Erwin (of Afterlife Parade) came over and helped me touch up some of the remaining lyrics. I recorded it in my bedroom, the same place where I read these horrible stories of tragedy and war. One day I’ll do a proper band recording, but I felt that this suited both the moment and the sentiment of this war.

I present this song not as a statement of which side is right or wrong, but as a reminder that when two sides are so blinded by hate they leave behind a path of innocent people in the wreckage. May love overcome fear. May peace win over hatred.


If I Die Tonight by Jameson Elder from his debut album Prodigals & Thieves. Now Available on iTunes now: