We spent the weekend up in New York, attending a funeral for my wife’s grandfather who passed suddenly late last week. It got me thinking about things like when I die and, me being me, the music I’d like played at my own funeral. This list is by no means exhaustive; a true funerary playlist would have to be at least three times this long. But these are the top ten songs I’d like played when I die.
- Iron & Wine, “Hard Times Come Again No More”: Funerals are often somber affairs. They don’t have to be, but they often are. This song carries that tone well.
- The Beatles, “Let It Be”: Preferably one of the versions with a George Harrison guitar solo, because I like George Harrison guitar solos.
- Harry Nilsson, “Many Rivers To Cross”: Sure, Nick Hornby may prefer the Jimmy Cliff version, but this is the one for me.
- Van Morrison, “Caravan (Live)”: Again, much like Nick Hornby, I love the live version of this song from the Too Late To Stop Now double live album, even if it does have the unfortunate circumstances of including band introductions halfway through. But all those guys will probably be dead by the time I die, and I’m willing to share the spotlight a bit.
- Bob Dylan, “I Shall Be Released”: I mean, it’s more about getting out of jail than getting out of this life, but I think it still works.
- Sean Watkins, “Let It Fall”: This song always felt like it belong over the closing credits to some heartfelt romantic drama. Or the end of one’s life.
- George Harrison, “All Things Must Pass”: No one does the transitory nature of existence better than George Harrison.
- Gin Blossoms, “Pieces Of The Night”: Life could just be one long night at the bar, trying to find someone, anyone, to spend just a moment with, a moment that might mean something. Or maybe I’ve already had too much gin.
- The National, “Gospel”: “Hang your holiday rainbow lights in the garden.”
- Wilco, “What Light”: This song is very simple. Many Wilco songs are. But it’s also transcendent. And I think it’d be nice to have a choir of my friends sing it.
Last week was a rough week, if I’m being honest. I was mostly over my case of covid, but still couldn’t return to work, and my wife…well, we had to take her to the hospital on Thursday because her O2 sats dropped dangerously low frighteningly quick. It’s only been in the past day or two that we’ve come to find out just how bad off she was. If we hadn’t taken her to the hospital when we did, she would not have survived the night.
So, she’s still at the hospital (in a covid isolation room where I cannot visit her), but thankfully on the mend. On Saturday, my old college advisor passed away suddenly from a brain aneurysm, which…yeah, still haven’t processed it. All of that probably explains the slower tempo and more downbeat list of songs on this week’s playlist.
- The Horrible Crowes, “Sugar”: I always thought it was more than a little daring to open the album with this song, which is by far more downbeat and subtle than what follows.
- Iron & Wine, “Hard Times Come Again No More”: I don’t know how I found this particular recording. I think it’s from the TV show Copper, if anyone remembers that (I never actually saw it, but still somehow heard this version of the song).
- Jars of Clay, “Faith Enough”: A song filled with contradictions and paradoxes.
- Jason Isbell, “Cover Me Up”: Beautiful and heartfelt and far more subtle than most of the songs I prefer by him, but no less glorious for it.
- The Wallflowers, “Up From Under”: If Breach isn’t the best Wallflowers album, it’s definitely top two. And while this isn’t my usual go-to song from that record, it’s still simple (for a song with a string arrangement) and beautiful.
- Willie Nelson, “The Rainbow Connection”: A voice and a song that I’m surprised it took so long to put together, though I have to ask – aside from this one and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” just how many songs are there out there about rainbows?
- The Beach Boys, “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times”: “Sometimes I feel very sad.” Sometimes Brian Wilson just cuts right to the damn chase.
- The National, “I Need My Girl”: I would like my wife home from the hospital now, please.
- The Flaming Lips, “Do You Realize??”: The happiest song about death that I know.
- Glen Phillips, “Train Wreck”: This one just sorta…feels right at the moment? That’s probably not good, is it?
The school year is settling in (except for my freshmen, maybe), so here’s some tunes to cruise into mid-September to.
- Fleetwood Mac, “Tusk”: I love the drums on this one. The high school marching band that joins in halfway through is also pretty neat.
- Frank Turner, “Get Better”: “I’m trying to get better ’cause I haven’t been my best,” Turner sings, and damn if I don’t feel that most days.
- U2, “Hawkmoon 269”: Just what the heck is a hawkmoon, anyway? My Google-Fu is useless, at least since Destiny 2 released an exotic gun of the same name.
- Tom Waits, “(Looking For) The Heart of Saturday Night”: I’m a sucker for any song title that starts with parentheses. And this song is just sad and sweet and gets me every time.
- Sublime, “What I Got”: I dare you not to sing along. You can’t not sing along.
- Walk the Moon, “Shut Up And Dance”: My niece likes this song. I think it’s pretty catchy, to the point that I find myself occasionally listening to it even when she’s not around (and sometimes putting it on a playlist, like this one).
- Elvis Costello & the Attractions, “Pump It Up”: It’s got a very insistent bassline and drumbeat that just gets into your brain and won’t let go.
- The Horrible Crowes, “Behold The Hurricane”: Brian Fallon just writes such catchy songs.
- Iron & Wine, “Claim Your Ghost”: Speaking of songs that are sad and sweet…
- The Jayhawks, “I’d Run Away”: The harmonies these guys got up to just send shivers down my spine.