I was reminded today of a story a friend once told me about a funeral he attended several years ago. The deceased was only in her twenties, and had died after a long and painful battle with cancer. Despite the difficulty of her last weeks, she’d asked her family to ensure her funeral was a celebration, and more specifically, that there be singing and dancing. And so, after various bands and singers had performed, music began to play and the MC asked people to push back the seats and dance. Row by row they began to comply, uneasily at first, but gradually with more vigour. And then, without warning, her father and brothers and the other pallbearers lifted the coffin onto their shoulders and began sway through the congregation towards the door in a sort of shuffling dance, pausing now and then to dance with one person or another as they went.
For my friend, who’d known the deceased since she was a child, the experience was completely overwhelming; joyous, heartbreaking and unlike anything he’d ever felt before, so much so that even 48 hours later he was still barely able to speak about it without weeping.
Anyway, the story got me thinking. If I were to die, what would I want played at my funeral? Setting aside the many classical pieces I’d choose, what songs would sum up the way I wanted people to remember me? Would it be obvious things like Bob Dylan’s ‘Knocking on Heaven’s Door’? Or less obvious things like ‘Somewhere’, from West Side Story or ‘Our Time’ from Merrily We Roll Along? Would it be ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ or ‘Mrs Robinson’? Otis Redding doing ‘A Change is Gonna Come’ or The Flaming Lips doing ‘Do You Realize?’ Nick Cave’s ‘Into My Arms’? The Beach Boys’ ‘God Only Knows’? The possibilities are almost endless.
And so, as an exercise, I tried compiling a list of five songs:
The Rolling Stones, ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’
Elton John, ‘Rocket Man’
Louis Armstrong ‘What a Wonderful World’
Lou Reed, ‘Satellite of Love’
Perry Como, ‘Moon River’
It’s not definitive, but it’s not a bad start. So I was wondering: do other people have playlists prepared for their own demise? And if they do, what are they?
(Apologies for the crappo video but it was the best I could find).