It’s A Funeral; Time To Sing

Although much has been written about the importance of sharing culture and the way information flow helps connect people, concrete examples aid in illustrating the point. Infamous stories about “Happy Birthday” serve that role well, but now we have a possible new arena from which to ask “Did they really need to go after that use?” For we sing at the beginning of life, on the day we commemorate life, and of course when we die. Yes, funerals! Here’s the possible difference. Whereas old classics like Amazing Grace (not as old as you might think) are all over the place. It appears that popular songs are big part of modern funeral services.

Indeed, a funeral group in the U.K. did a survey of most popular songs played at, well, funerals. Apparently, Sinatra’s “My Way” was at the top of the list. I must admit that when I saw the headline about the U.K. funerals and My Way, I thought that they meant the Sid Vicious rendition; that would have been the more ironic, darker choice. As a sign that polls and surveys are only as good as their sample set, a different group’s poll showed that My Way was second to Robbie Williams’s “Angels” (my vote is an eloquent “Ick”) and thankfully Monty Python’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”

came in third. At the risk of sharing too much, I have always thought that the Python is the way to go for a funeral and may be one of the more pithy ways to set forth a life plan.

So in the spirit of sharing and engaging with others about a key part of life here is the beginning of a list of songs that I think would be on my funeral mix (not in a particular order yet)

1. In My Time of Dying (Zepplin version, although Dylan and Blind Willie Johnson offer much in different ways; actually a whole Blind Willie funeral would make sense to me)

2. Always Look on the Bright Side of Life (because it would be time to remind folks about the bright side)

3. Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding by Elton John – this one starts with a somber tone one may want, and then the 70s Elton/Taupin build up is almost too campy yet still so wonderful that it goes past the problems of later power ballads and works (Elton has a few others that would make this list)

Ziggy Stardust seems to work, but if you listen to the lyrics, it may depend on who the dead person is. And, the Bauhaus version may be one of those covers that surpasses the original. Bela Lugosi’s Dead by Bauhaus almost made the list, but it may be too somber to want to hear at a funeral.

I am sure I have more for the list, but for now I invite nominations for the non-obvious choices (i.e., Over the Rainbow, Highway to Hell, Another One Bites the Dust, the classical choices, and others that made the lists). And in the words of Wayne’s World “No Stairway, Denied.”

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9 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thankfully, Robbie Robertson (of The Band) is not the same as Robbie Wilson. Robertson is innocent of the song posted.

  2. Bruce Boyden says:

    Wot, no Chopin? For Monty Python, there’s also the Galaxy Song from The Meaning of Life.

  3. Colin C says:

    I’m putting a vote in for “The Impossible Dream” from Man of La Mancha.

  4. Deven says:

    Wow horrible typo. I like Robertson and slipped. Thanks for the heads up.

  5. Peter says:

    I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, Warren Zevon

  6. Nate Oman says:

    No thanks! At my funeral, please sing “All Creatures of Our God and King” by St. Fancis of Assisi set to the music by Ralph Vaughn Williams.

  7. I like your blog, I have not heard about this music artist so thank you very mucho for providing this information. I love this kind of music, is amazing.

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  8. eric says:

    Phil Ochs, “When I’m Gone”.

  9. Deven says:

    Great stuff. Thanks.

    Nate, fair enough. A great classic and one I used to sing all the way through grade school. Nice one and not really on the usual suspects, I think.