Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Death march

I was driving home one day last week and was sick of flipping through radio stations playing either shit songs or obnoxious advertisements, so I switched over to the CD in the car's player. It was a Ben Harper CD, and track 14 was just starting. The track's title is She's Only Happy In The Sun; it's the last track on the CD, and one of the best.

I thought to myself, yep, here's the tune I want played at my funeral, if, in fact, my funeral is going to be anytime soon.

Because, you see, these songs do change over time.

Is that strange? morbid? Do any of you have you own death march already picked out? I've always had one, at least as far back as junior high. I think that was probably the beginning, the age at which I first realize that I, yes ME my very self, could actually die, that youth doesn't protect you from the grave (or flame, as the case may be).

There were a few tragic car accidents in my hometown while I was in high school, accidents in which healthy, happy kids my age were killed. The funerals of these kids drew very large crowds, because, well, they had lots of friends, and teachers and coaches, and parents, and their friends, and well, they had their whole lives ahead of them. People come out for those types of funerals. They just do.

My funeral song at that point in my life, at the dawning of my death consciousness, was Open Door by Genesis. When I started reflecting on this whole requiem idea last week, I could not for the life of me remember the tune to Open Door, or the lyrics, for that matter, but I remembered the name right away, and the fact that I thought, for many years, that it was the perfect song for my memorial service.

I listened to it a few times today, for the first time in decades. It's a pretty song, but sad. Too sad for a kid's memorial service I think now, but I dug the drama of it all those years ago.

I loved the buildup to this stanza:

Stand in the sun
Shut your eyes and feel the world
It's changing every day

I'm not exactly sure what about She's Only Happy in the Sun makes me feel it's a proper funeral dirge. I guess simply that it's true. Well, I'm not only happy in the sun, but it sure does make it a whole lot easier for me to be happy when the sun is shining, and getting my fair share of the sun's golden goodness is somewhat of a priority for me.

So maybe it's these words:

But if the sun sets you free, sets you free
You'll be free indeed, Indeed.

that I like so much, because you know, once I'm gone, I'm hoping that there's going to be a lot of light, and well, a lot of freedom too.

I'm curious to see if anyone else who reads this has these songs in their heads -- songs they've picked out that they'd like to be sent off with. Because you know, you never know which day is your last. There are no 'life' guarantees. In fact, I got an email today from my daughter's preschool informing me, along with all the other preschool parents, that two kids in the school, a brother and sister, lost their dad on Friday afternoon. They lost their healthy, middle-age dad in a complete freak accident. They likely kissed him goodbye that very morning, waved at him and shouted out an "I love you Daddy!" as they loaded into the car, never imagining it'd be the last time they'd ever see him.

So maybe, maybe a death march is not all that morbid, maybe it's just good planning.


Nancy said...

and I thought that I was the only one that has her funeral music on rotation, changing as the years go by!

If I die right around now (gulp, I still have a few things to do) ... its an Enya CD ... play on loop =)

Irish Gumbo said...

Wow. I've been thinking about this too, weird.

I'm not sure: I can't decide between "If I Give My Soul" as sung by Johnny Cash, "The Fields Of Athenry" as done by Dropkick Murphys, or "Three Little Birds" by Bob Marley. Maybe all three!

Very cool post!

Lola said...

I've had my memorial set list since I was a teen, too. Some of the songs have changed over the years, but the one that always remains is "My Way," as performed by the Sex Pistols.

I can just picture the horrified looks on some faces while my friends and family crack up.

Me, You, or Ellie said...

This is thought provoking and well written, but I really don't want to think about my funeral today.


Me, You, or Ellie said...

Great post, Beth. I don't have any songs picked out. Or any plan at all except cremation, and no church. Just a big party somewhere.

I'm going to have to get on this. I guess an important tidbit is once you've got it planned out, you've got to let somebody know. So they don't end up playing a song you hate. Because that would suck.


Kathi D said...

It has never occurred to me to think about this, but on a bit of reflection, at this moment I would choose "Keep Me in Your Heart" which was written and performed by Warren Zevon when he knew his death was imminent.

KathyR said...

I'm just not feeling my blog these days, so I won't link you to my post with my funeral playlist. The non-negotiable must-play song is Cassandra Wilson's "A Little Warm Death." But I do have an addition: "If This is Goodbye" as performed by Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris. Even people who didn't know me will be bawling.

Me, You, or Ellie said...

I love that Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris CD. In addition to the funeral song, they've got that great wedding song, "Love and Happiness".


~Mad said...

I choose songs for just that occasion, then I forget them - it's like making a will...my ideas about it are ever-changing.

I usually picture that scene at the end of the funeral in The Big Chill" - "you can't always get what you want..." and his friends smiled and laughed!

My choice today? Zippity Doo Dah - and I am not being "flip" either.

~Mad(elyn) in Alabama