Dying To Hear A Good Song
I like to think I can handle most things but for the moment immortality seems to be beyond me. If I believed every bit of doom-laden news I read, I wouldn’t bother getting out of bed. I would just lie there waiting to be taken by a flood, a tempest, a terrible disease, or turned into a gruesome combination of fat, sugar, and plastic by the horrors of modern diet. Cryogenics? Not for me thanks, I like to be warm. As for being kept alive forever, who would pay for it – my kids? I don’t think so. I can hear it now –“Sorry Dad, we both need a holiday, and what with the mortgage and everything……” Out comes the plug. Dad’s a gonner.
“You may be a King or a little street sweeper, but sooner or later you dance with the reaper.” This little snippet from Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey might not be the most deeply metaphysical pondering on the subject of mortality, but it came back to me recently when I had to attend a memorial service and started thinking about the kind of music that gets played at funerals. I have never heard of anyone having a Bill and Ted song as their swan song yet it’s pretty much certain that someone somewhere will have chosen one. But, sorry fellas, it’s not for me.
So, facing the inevitable, I have decided that when the day comes I want to choose the music! You only have to look at the “Top Ten” surveys of music chosen, usually by relatives, for the big day to realise this is one job you do not want to leave to someone else. In the UK it seems that the top choices are “My Way” by Frank Sinatra; “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion; “Angels” by Robbie bloody Williams; Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”; and Elton John’s “Candle In The Wind”. I swear if any of that stuff is played for me I will jump out of the box and throttle somebody. I get to choose OK? So, here goes.
My number one choice would be “Boulder to Birmingham” by the elegant and wonderful Emmylou Harris who co-wrote the song with Bill Danoff after the death of her fellow musician and great friend Gram Parsons. Parsons was only 26 when he died the classic rock star death, making headlines even after he died when his friends tried to fulfil his wishes by stealing his casket and burning it in his beloved Joshua Tree National Park. If there is a better eulogy to a lost friend I have never heard it. Musically and lyrically it is a masterpiece. So I expect tears right? Take an onion to rub in your eyes if you have to.
Next up is “The Ballad of Easy Rider” by Roger McGuinn. Reputedly written or co-written by Bob Dylan though only credited to McGuinn, this song’s lyrics are an ode to freedom and travel – “All he wanted was to be free, and that’s the way it turned out to be” and “Wherever that river flows, that’s where I want to be”. The song’s simple lyrics were a kind of anthem for me for most of my life.
Those two will do for now but there are a lot of contenders for third place. Maybe I should get a Juke Box for my send-off and make it a party. But, remember, I choose the music – all anyone else has to do is bring the onions.
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