This Mortal Coil


William Shakespeare: pretty good with words, but damn sure never wrote a good funeral song.

Hi. I’ve just come back from my Aunty Teresa’s funeral, hence the christening/wedding/funeral suit I’m wearing (which I’m pleased to say still fits me after 12 years of christenings, weddings and funerals). No tears, she was 88 and had had a good innings. All part of life’s rich tapestry and all that. In the immortal words of the even more immortal Monty Python “you come from nothing, you’re going back to nothing. What have you lost? Nothing!”

I’ve been to quite a few funerals in the past few years – it’s an inevitable aspect of getting older – and one thing I’ve noticed is the lack of good contemporary funeral songs. Today, we had Bette Midler singing Wind Beneath My Wings and Celine Dion doing My Heart Will Go On. Fine songs both, but how often does that poor vicar have to listen to them each day?

Though having said that, what other options where there? James Blunt‘s Goodbye My Lover springs to mind (in the Wikipedia entry for this song, it states “The song ranks No. 1 in funeral song requests according to The Bereavement Register”). Song For Guy by Elton John is another (I always thought he was singing “life is a different thing”, but apparently the lyric is “life isn’t everything”. Both pretty nonsensical though: imagine saying to someone on their deathbed “cheer up! Life isn’t everything, you know!”)

One of our my wife’s friends, who died very young from Cystic Fibrosis, got to plan her own funeral and chose Leave Right Now by Will Young. This is not a song about death, just the end of a relationship, but I can’t hear this song without being moved to tears. There was not a dry eye in the house that day – a brilliant choice of song for the occasion and, even though I don’t believe in the afterlife, I hope she was looking down on us and was pleased with the outcome.

Me? I was originally going to have Monty Python’s Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life, but I think that’s become a bit of a cliché. So currently I’d choose Dust In The Wind by Todd Rundgren – yeah, I know you’ve never heard of it (or him for that matter), but it’s definitely an on my death bed song.

Not that I intend to be on my death bed for a fair few years yet. Gotta record these 150 odd songs that I’ve written first. Which at the rate I work will take a little while…

9 thoughts on “This Mortal Coil

    • Then you really should make arrangements to get up with me next time I have a gig and duet on a Todd song or two: It wouldn’t have made any difference, Hello it’s me, Can we still be friends?, etc…

  1. I remember you playing Todd Rundgren tracks at me (yes, AT me) in your room when were about 15…can’t say any of them have stayed with me.
    At my dad’s funeral last year the final song as we left the crematorium was ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone”. I’m not sure if that was because he was a life long LFC fan or because he had a pacemaker himself for ten years or so. Either way, I must confess to cringing a little as the first few bars echoed through the chapel. The thing is, these things are for the living, and so I hope that most-if not all – the other attendees felt it was appropriate (I think dad would have found it a bit corny).
    What really broke me up during that funeral service was the final Hymn: ‘Jerusalem’, and I can’t hear it to this day without getting a lump in my throat; powerful stuff that taps into the nostalgia gland.

    Personally I like the idea of something that would make people leave the memorial with a smile on their face and in their hearts…”Friggin’ in the riggin'” perhaps? Or maybe “Gordon is a Moron”…

    • I tried to convert you to the path of Todd all those years ago? How evangelical of me! To be honest, listening to that stuff now, there’s some great songs but there’s also a lot of not-so-great stuff. The tracks I refer to in my blog are mainly from his third album Something/Anything way back in 1971.

      Ah yes, You’ll Never Walk Alone is indeed another funeral track you’ll hear many a time, especially in this neck of the woods. My Uncle Eric and Cousin Steven (Aunty Teresa’s husband and son respectively) both had that at their funerals, being ardent LFC supporters. I presume Phil Kite, being of the blue persuasion, would have had the Z Cars Theme?

      When it comes down to it, I’m undecided about whether I’d like people to laugh or cry at my own funeral. Maybe both – get em crying on the way in, laughing on the way out. Yeah, that sounds like me.

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