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My Funeral Songs

June 19, 2010

“I am gonna make it through this year, if it kills me.”

That’s what I want on my headstone, if I get one. And here are songs I want played at my funeral, with a few words as to why.

Find the River“: R.E.M.

One of the most beautiful songs about death, and life. It is best heard in remembrance of dead pets, but it is so exquisite, I want this played as the last stragglers come in for the service.

Just a Closer Walk With Thee“: Traditional
To satisfy the deluded among the attendees, an inoffensive religious dirge. Also, reminiscent of New Orleans.

Hallelujah“: Leonard Cohen’s song, Rufus Wainwright arrangement.
Not a religious song, despite the biblical references. A nearly perfect song, and good tempo for a funeral.

Plastic Jesus“: Traditional
Just to be cheeky. Also, in case I’ve died in a car crash or something. Billy Idol’s version, if possible. A great sing-along.

Please Don’t Bury Me“: John Prine
They can take any parts that may still be useful, or put my brain in a hurricane. Either way.

Don’t Fence Me In“: Cole Porter
I wanted to play this song after my dog, Winter, died, but could not find it anywhere. Another sing-along, about pining for the great outdoors while trapped in a city or an office or something.

Beautiful Dreamer“: Stephen Foster
This actually was an elegy, written for his wife. Or so I am led to believe. It’s a great sing-along. But play it strong, not the bloodless Lawrence Welk style.

After Today Consider Me Gone“: Sting
Beautiful, moving-on song by the sexiest guy ever. Also, a great excuse to have saxophone.

Amazing Grace“: John Newton
The Shaker arrangement is the one I like best, rather than a slow, methodical Methodist-version.

Imagine“: John Lennon.
A perfect blend of hope and atheism. Also, it’s short.

Everybody Hurts“: R.E.M.
Yes, another R.E.M. song. It will remind people they should’ve been nicer to me.

Closing Time“: Leonard Cohen
Last song. More classic Cohen lyrics that are so perfect it’s hard to believe one man’s talent. “Looks like freedom, but it feels like death; it’s something in between, I guess. It’s closing time. We’re busted in the blinding lights of closing time.”

Related article:
Obituary words to avoid

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Peter permalink
    October 23, 2010 4:55 pm

    I heard a nice rendition of ‘Just a Closer Walk With Thee’ in the movie ‘Cool Hand Luke’. Very simple; just guitar and vocal.

    I never knew ‘Beautiful Dreamer’ was an elegy for Stephen Foster’s wife. I used to share little tidbits like that with a buddy at work.

    For my own funeral I think I would choose ‘Forest Lawn’ by Tom Paxton and ‘Finlandia’ by Sibelius to rattle the windows.

    • October 24, 2010 4:48 pm

      Yeah, the Cool Hand Luke version, or Sarah Harmer’s — that’s what I want. Your songs are great, they would be perfect.

  2. October 3, 2010 9:51 pm

    Puts a crimp in the Carpenters medley I was planning for you, but good choices nonetheless…

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