Any countdown of country’s most passion-filled songs would be remiss to leave out Jason Isbell’s single, “Cover Me Up.”
After Morgan Wallen’s popular cover of the song on Dangerous: The Double Album, it quickly received Platinum status, and it may be one of the most popularly covered songs of the era at the rate it’s going.
With that being said, I feel strongly that the one time you shouldn’t be playing the gut-punching “Cover Me Up” is at your wedding. And with more upcoming ceremonies in the summer and fall months, I’m truly hoping not to hear it at another one.
I would agree that at the center of the song there is a defiant and unbreakable love story, and maybe it’s the popularity of the Wallen cover that has removed the song from its origins, but it’s still primarily about the love that drove Isbell’s recovery from alcoholism, a recovery that wouldn’t have been possible without his wife, Amanda Shires.
And make no mistake, getting sober is valiant feat, but not typically one mentioned on the doorstep of matrimony… whether it’s love that got you there or not.
With more and more people mistaking this song as a simplistic love story focused on reconnecting, and then adding it to the playlist for the most important day of their lives, it’s important to remember the true brokenness behind the song.
Isbell isn’t necessarily celebrating he and wife Amanda Shires’ strong love, instead he’s reflecting and forthrightly apologizing that their love had to be strong to endure his battle with addiction.
In addition, lyrics like “I made it through ‘cause somebody knew, I was meant for someone,” aren’t just eluding to two lovers being “Better Together” like Luke Combs’ single of the same name.
Instead, pairing the sentiment with other lyrics like, “days when we raged, we flew off the page,” and “I put your faith to the test, when I tore off your dress” allude to tragic and personal memories at the hands of the writer’s previous alcoholic binges.
If that’s not enough to steer you away from using the song on your big-day-playlist, consider the more obvious line, “I sobered up, I swore off that stuff, forever this time,” which probably derived from the ultimatum Isbell received from his now-wife during his long bout with recovery.
You’re gonna dance to that with an open bar right behind you? (Cash bars at a wedding suck… don’t be that guy…)
The story in the song is unique pretty unique to Isbell and Shires, and although it’s fair to say you’d like your love to match the unbreakable-feel of Isbell and Shire’s in “Cover Me Up,” the underlying message of the song isn’t exactly packed with revelry, quite the opposite.
And yeah, maybe that’s your story too, and by all means, go for it, but in reality, it’s a heart-wrenching ballad that while technically a love song, is more about endurance and faith. Granted, both definitely big parts of a marriage, but hopefully you’re not already testing the endurance on day 1.
If you’re looking for a tear-jerker for that upcoming first dance, consider “I Cross My Heart” by George Strait or “Forever & Ever, Amen” by Randy Travis, and leave Isbell’s gutsy expository out of it.
That, or have your guests wondering which of you endured hardship while the other “kicked the habit,” but don’t say we didn’t warn ya…