Monday, July 23, 2007

Music For Funerals

The good folks at Social Zymurgy recently asked a number of us to come up with 12 songs we'd like played at our own funeral. Now, I'm assuming they were including the wake or post-funeral luncheon, and were not just referring to the music you'd have played at the funeral service itself. Johnny Yen followed instructions and came up with 12 songs, including lyrics from his favorite one.

Dale, perhaps trying to be polite and not take up too much of anyone's time, posted a list of 10 songs.

I love this idea. I have a thing for funerals, and my own is something that I've given no small amount of thought to. I've been a cop for a few years, I'm in the department honor guard, and I've served on rifle squads for police funerals. My ethnicity is Irish, and my family are transplanted hillbillies (I'm two generations away from coal mines and railroads). So, I'm into funerals. I want my own to be a great blast--I want people to eat and drink, I want some crying, plenty of laughter (hopefully, some of it wildly inappropriate) and lots of loud conversation and music.

Since Dale was such a good sport, using only 10 songs, I'll list a few extra tracks since he didn't use them. Now, mind you, these are just a handful of tracks that came to mind. I could easily come up with another 10 or 15. But, here they are, in no particular order, to be played as part of the service or at the rollicking party afterward:

  • Amazing Grace—Any good traditional hillbilly version, or with bagpipes
  • Tango Till They're Sore—Tom Waits
  • Going Down Slow—Howlin' Wolf
  • Come On Up to the House—Tom Waits
  • Sick Bed of Cuchulain—The Pogues
  • Once in a Lifetime—Talking Heads
  • I Saw the Light—Hank Williams
  • Rank Stranger—Stanley Brothers
  • I'll Fly Away—There are too many versions of this I love: The Louvin Brothers, Johnny Cash, The Stanley Brothers, Alison Krause..
  • Isn't it Grand Boys—The Clancy Brothers
  • Young At Heart—Frank Sinatra
  • Rockin' Bones—The Cramps
  • Didn't He Ramble--Louis Armstrong
  • After Hours—The Velvet Underground


Doc said...

Damn it Sir, you made me homesick! My mother used to sing this to me as a child. I come from a long line of Irish hillbillies. I am the first generation to live "in town".

I am glad to see that Howlin' Wolf, as well as the Talking Heads, Johnny Cash, and the Clancy Brothers found their way to your list.

As suggestions for bonus tracks, let me offer: the Talking Head's "Take me to the River", Johnny Cash's "Delia", but most importantly, The Clancy Brother's "The Parting Glass".

May the Devil find out you are in Heaven an hour after you're dead. Thanks.


Beth said...

I am so coming to your funeral! Toe-tappin' to Mr. Williams as I type this.

I have a cover of "After Hours" by R.E.M., in case you want Mr. Stipe to sing you to heaven.

Dino aka Katy said...

I know I want a party as my funeral - irish wake style. Preferably at the beach and then have someone dump my ashes in the water. Don't care to much of the music as long as it is indy/alternative/rock and everyone has a good time - dancing on my grave so to speak

Chris said...

"Come On Up To The House" is a great tune for a funeral.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

At my funeral I want them to play 'Stupefaction' by Graham Parker over and over again.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

No funeral is complete without some Pogues, and that is a very suitable pick. Love how you thrown in a bit of Talking Heads and VU. I can hardly wait for your funeral now!

Johnny Yen said...

Great list!

Back in high school, my best friend and I, being the morbid teenagers that we were, made lists and swore each other to play them. As I recall, they were heavy on The Doors. We also swore that we'd make sure it was a celebration. I'd like that still today.

When my friend Mark died last year, we had no problem with the music-- he was known for making mix cd's. We grabbed dozens of the mix cd's he had around the house, and that's what we played.

Dale said...

Wow, what a list Bubs! And you're welcome, I know I broke the '12' rule but I was at work and under a lot of stress - nothing that would have killed me mind you but...

I wondered when I read your comment on my post if The Cramps would make it and there they are! Excellent.

Coaster Punchman said...

At least you're honest enough to admit you want some crying. Whenever people say "I want no crying at my funeral. I want it to be a party! A celebration!" I'm like "You do not! You want everyone to be on the floor, convulsing with sobs because they can't believe such a wonderful person could be gone! THEN you want the party!" Thanks for getting it right.

I can do a soulful "Amazing Grace" on the piano - be glad to help out. But please do not die any time soon.

He also tagged me for this - I told him I wouldn't be able to think of what to do but I've finally figured it out so I will post soon.

Bubs said...

C.P. you are absolutely right about the crying and wailing part. I didn't want to overdo it, but I wan't some serious grieving. I wouldn't mind a fistfight breaking out, either, as long as both parties involved ended it by crying, embracing each other and then drinking more.

Dale, watch out for that stress! I loved your list. So cool, and succinct.

Johnny, my eldest and MizBubs know where to find my mixes. Your friend Mark was well-remembered by you and your friends.

Barbara, there were a few more TH and VU tracks I left out: "Heaven" by Talking Heads, and "I'm Set Free" by VU came to mind immediately.

Dr. MVM, consider it done.

Chris, I think so too. I've always wanted to hear it in church, with a choir. I love that song.

Katy, I agree. I especially like your beach idea. Did you know there's an outfit back east, in NY I think, that will load your ashes into fireworks, take your funeral party out on a boat, and fire them off over/into the ocean?

Beth, thanks. Actually, if I was going to get a non-VU version of "After Hours" I'd go with the version by Ingrid Lucia and the Flying Neutrinos.

Doc, here's to Irish hillbillies. We have a cultural responsibility to live up to, don't we?