Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Songs To Play At My Funeral, Part 1

Sometimes, you hear a song and think to yourself, "that's a great song," and each time you listen to it, you like it even more and discover that you like it for several different reasons.

Sometimes, you think about your own funeral, and what you'd like it to be like. And you tell people "I want to be cremated," "I want a closed casket at my funeral," or "bury me sideways," but these sort of comments either get tossed away as casual, meaningless asides, or are met with responses such as "oh, that's morbid, let's talk about something else," or "what do you mean, 'bury you sideways'?"

Well, I've had lengthy discussions with myself on both of these topics in recent weeks, and thought it would be best to lay down a mandate about songs that I have decided that I like so much that they'd be suitable for listening to and reflecting upon at my own funeral. Then it occurred to me that in the modern era of the facebook and personal blogging, that I'd probably be able to document these wishes in such a way that there would be an historical and lasting record of these wishes.

As I've considered this, I wondered to myself about how many songs would be appropriate to play during a funeral service. Probably three would be quite enough, as four would seem one too many. Currently, there are only two that I believe I like enough and say the sort of message I think I'd like to leave upon my departure. So I will reveal these two songs here, and my reasons why I think my captive funeral audience should be forced to listen to them.

So here we go. Unless I indicate otherwise in the future, these are two songs I want played at my funeral.

Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind about one or both of these songs in the event I get older and it turns out that I decide these songs are crap (which I don't believe will happen), or if a newer song comes along that I have not yet heard that is just so good it should be added as my third song or replace one of my first two.

I'm not intending this to be a morbid reminder of the ever present macabre spectre (nice, two consecutive words that end in -re!) of death that imminently hovers over us all the time, but as I said before, I really intend this as a selection of songs I want played at my funeral, and this post to serve as guide future generations as to my wishes and desires.

The first song I'd like played at my funeral is Strollin' On The Water by Bryan Duncan, the lyrics to which can be found here. He wrote this song in 1998, apparently, and it was played on the radio kind of regularly for a while. When I looked for a video of it on YouTube, I was a little disappointed that the images I had created in my mind didn't match the contents of the video, so I quickly whipped up a picture montage of places I've seen and linked to that video for when you listen to the song. Unfortunately, I didn't include that many pictures of water, so I'll post one of those pictures here for your water-strolling-fantasy demands.

"Take courage, it is I, don't be afraid." I frequently lose sight of the big picture, and this song seems to express the need to remember what's important and to know where your "strength comes from."

High over every care, sinking no longer, let me rise above the high tide. I can do it, I can do it. I know that you said "follow me..."

Every time I hear it, my mood improves. The message is positive and encouraging. It tells the listener that everything will be okay and that we are not alone no matter what the circumstances are or how terrible we may feel.

Keep your eyes up when you feel you're sinking and all that stuff. It makes me feel better, so I figure if you're sitting at my funeral you'll need a happy song to gently console you in my absence.

Okay, so it seems like a typical, middle-of-the-road, comforting reflective sensitive song that of course seems at home in a funeral situation. Oh, you don't like it? Well, it's my funeral and you'll listen to what I tell you to listen to!

But wait, there's more! My second song is much  more recent, from 2010. It's OK GO's This Too Shall Pass, the lyrics to which can be found here. Another version of a video for this song was wildly popular because it was one long take of a wildly intricate Rube-Goldberg machine that culminated in shooting the four band members with paint-filled balloons.

The video I linked to is a different version of the song, recorded with the Notre Dame marching band. OK GO gave this version away as a free download, so I listened to it a lot on my little ipod shuffle, and it turned out that the lyrics made me feel good, had a good message suitable for sharing at a funeral service, and the whole marching band vibe just added to the majesty and fun of the song.

The main and repeated theme of the song is that you can't keep letting it get you down, so let it go, this too shall pass. So often we keep hold of the hurts, slights, and offenses inflicted upon us, and it's just not worth it. So just let it go, man! You can't stop those kids from dancing, don't blame them for doing it just because you can't or don't want to!

An added visual bonus is how some of the marching band is dressed up in the Ghillie Suits:


So there you go, the two songs that you ought to play at my funeral, with the underatanding that future posts may add a third, or change one or both of the current choices.

The only things that can undermine my otherwise perfect plan to have my final wishes carried out are: 1) the links die, 2) the Internet ceases to exist, 3) I change my mind and update this list, 4) this message won't be searched for upon my untimely demise, or 5) you'll just ignore it anyway as the ramblings of a misguided and mentally deranged fool.

But since you're reading this now, you will have already read about the two songs I feel everybody should listen to, so I suppose my final wishes have performed their intended purpose. How about that? It's kind of like the Internet already hosted my funeral and it was exactly the way I intended it to be.

So thank you for your indulgence, but this doesn't absolve you from your responsibility of actually attending my funeral. Indeed, now you are expected to sing along, too.

And also, bury me sideways.

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