Raging against the machine replaced by the equally futile raging against the dying of the light, however whichever way one addresses it death appears to be inevitable. Plenty of people died in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries giving Mankind form in this area. So, whether you’ve traded in your soul at some midnight crossroads for a life less ordinary or cut your cloth to spite your face, at some point the Black Dog starts howling underneath your window waiting for the grim reaper to take him walkies. As a result it throws up the tricky subject of what to have played at your funeral/cremation/pyre etc. For me this is something that has filled many an idle moment down the years. I reckon the service can be split up into three main sections therefore:
Shuffling in, getting settled, seeing who’s turned up etc. Maybe a bit of classical, something pastoral, nothing too dramatic so stick to Vivaldi and ease back on the Wagner or Beethoven. If you can’t tell your Niccolo Paganini from a Costa cheese Panini then maybe an instrumental version of Hoagy Carmichael’s I Get Along Without You Very Well will hit the spot. Essentially this is the accompaniment to checking out the women/chaps to see who has arrived unattended. The most worrying must be the mystery woman who enters after the service has begun, sits weeping silently at the back and leaves just before the end. Actually that’s the second worse, the worse being that she has a child with her. Or is heavy with one.
Moving on, The Rev has said a few kind words and a friend has offered up a description of someone that bears no relation to the one in whose shoes you have up until recently been walking. Time for the song that those you’ve left behind think either sums you up or expresses their feelings about you. Always On My Mind takes care of the guilt and Dylan’s Forever Young is a bit of a crowd pleaser. Johnny Thunders You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory, Patti Smith’s Trampin’ and U2’s One give you something a bit anthemic; or go down the comedic toe tapping route with a karaoke Another One Bites The Dust or even put a positive spin on an unexplained suicide with Lucinda William’s Sweet Old World. Talking Heads’ Road To Nowhere should be enough existentialism for even the most Sartre’d of café dwellers, or go out on a limb with Build Me Up Buttercup, a song I’ve long considered to be a potential metaphor for life. If you want to be really cynical then how about Is That All There Is? or to be plain blunt, the Man in Black’s When the Man Comes Around.
Ok, so the body’s disappeared behind the curtain to be greeted by fire, brimstone and an uncertain fate. Tears are evaporating, limbs are being stretched and thoughts centred around ‘life is short, I’ll never complain about being stuck in a queue ever again’ are turning into excuses not to go back to the house for a slice of tea and a cup of cake. But more people have turned up than had been catered for so there’s time to kill. Post show exit music provided via country legend Willie Nelson singing Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone or Don’t Get Around Much Anymore or even the (All)Mighty Wah’s triumph of hope over diversity yet really rather wonderful Come Back.
Death is not to be sniffed at, unless you’re into necrophilia in which case you’re one of life’s, or rather death’s receivers. But that little fact shouldn’t stop you from being cruel to be kind and insisting that everyone wears black. I know the current vogue is to be funky, colourful and ‘fun loving’ because well, Great Aunt Maude was gin soaked and well up for a lark in the park but black is such a slimming colour that trust me, the women will thank you for it, although you will of course have to wait to receive them in person.
So, you’re all asking, what would Scot choose? Well first I asked around some of the guys and Various has gone for Thin Lizzy’s Boys Are Back In Town because it reminds him of being sixteen and the summer of ’76. Cheek By Joel has gone for a Ron Sexsmith song called Riverbank. As for me it’s a toss up between R.E.M’s Find The River and Joe Henry’s Short Man’s Room. Or Tom Wait’s Long Way Home or . . . but, and here’s the thing, we’re a moveable beast with as many sides as there are songs to fill them. And that sums us up because there can never be one three and a half minute pop song that . . . sums us up. But remember that whatever you choose you must make sure the cd is clean. God can do most things, move mountains, get Chumbawumba to number one but he can’t do anything about a cd with jam on it.
Scot, Alive And Kicking x