I was lucky enough to get tickets to see that old rock god Robert Plant when he played in Leeds this week. It was a great show and I love his new music, but you’ll be relieved to know I’m not going to write about him or Led Zeppelin this week.
He covered an old blues song called Funny In My Mind (I Believe I’m Fixin’ To Die) which reminded me of my funeral playlist. I’ve got to that stage in my life when I go to more funerals than weddings. Some are very moving, well thought out and a proper celebration of a life. Others have left me dissatisfied that the ceremony didn’t reflect the person as I knew them.
There’s only one thing for it, as every cub scout knows – you’ve got to be prepared. Me and my Other Half have started compiling notes, lists of possible readings and music for when we pop our clogs.
I had a very strange feeling at one funeral. They played a piece of music I’m particularly fond of. Ah yes, I thought, great choice. That changed to “Damn, I was going to have that my funeral and now people will think I’ve copied so-and-so”. Finally I worked out that I intended to live for another 30 years and in the unlikely event that anyone was at both funerals they would have probably forgotten.
So now you’re all asking – what’s on your funeral playlist?
Well too much is the answer. There’s only really room for about three tunes at a funeral, although you can get more in at the wake. At the last funeral I went to the family had compiled a CD of the deceased ‘Desert Island Discs’ for us to take home.
The joker in me wants to include Burn Baby Burn by Ash, or Disco Inferno, especially if I’m cremated. But they wouldn’t work for a green funeral in a forest which I’m also considering. And they might upset some of the mourners, if any turn up.
Fixin’ To Die is on the list. I particularly like the line “I don’t mind dying, but I hate to see my children cry”. Fairport Convention’s Who Knows Where The Time Goes and Van Morrison’s Tupelo Honey have been used by friends, but as I say I’m keeping them on my list.
Graham Parker makes two appearances with Fools Gold and Long Emotional Ride. Both are songs about journeying through life and love. Digression klaxon – I fell in love with the first song when I was in sixth form and took the opening line a little too literally: ‘I’ve been doing my homework now for a long, long time …’
In a similar vein is Gram Parsons’ Return of the Grievous Angel “20,000 roads I went down, down, down, and they all led me straight back home to you”. And then there’s Emmylou Harris’ beautiful song for Gram, Boulder to Birmingham: “I would walk all the way from Boulder to Birmingham, if I thought I could see your face.”
Man of the World by Fleetwood Mac – the original Fleetwood Mac not these 1970s imposters coming to the Arena at £140 a ticket – is a possibility. It’s about appearance and reality and depression. It might be appropriate if I haven’t defeated depression by then. When An old Cricketer Leaves The Crease by Roy Harper always makes me cry, but I never played cricket, or any team sport, so I’d better not have that.
And finally from the modern era there’s Elbow’s My Sad Captains with it’s mournful refrain of “Oh my soul” counterpoised with the joyful thought that a night in the pub is “the perfect waste of time”.
So which am I going to choose? That is the very question my Other Half asked me. I said I don’t mind, I’ve got them on a playlist – so put it on shuffle while I shuffle off this mortal coil.
I’ll be back in next week with more of my views from South of the River. If you’re on Twitter, you can follow me: @BeestonJeremy.