Saturday, April 15, 2006

Funeral Party Songs

Several years ago, I worked as the marketing director for a small symphony in Texas. Fun work, interesting people, beyond-lousy pay. I was one of the only (maybe THE only) person on staff who had no background in classical--or to be precise--"symphonic" music, since "classical" correctly denotes a point in time, like baroque. But I digress.

I once got into a bit of a friendly argument with my boss, Judith (a double bassist).

She was preparing to adopt a little girl from China, and hence was in one of those "oh my God, I'm going to have a human being to care for" moods and had not only made out a will, but had written up incredibly detailed instructions for her funeral, should the need arise. (She was--and as far as I know, still is--perfectly healthy.)

Her choices of funeral music ran to the somber, the sober--you know, the whole Pachelbel's "Canon" thing.

"Alison, you have a son. Haven't you ever thought about what you'd want played at your funeral?" she asked.

"Absolutely. At the very least, the greatest rock song of all time, 'Twilight Zone' by Golden Earring. Plus, 'Layla'--but it has to be the real version by Derek and the Dominoes with the piano and the birdsong, not that lame acoustic version Clapton did later. And plenty of Dire Straits, U2, maybe some Barenaked Ladies. 'Gimme Three Steps' by Skynard. 'When Doves Cry.' 'Smells Like Teen Spirit.' Something to dance to."

(Note: This conversation took place in 1997, so I'd add a lot of stuff to the list now: plenty of Coldplay; just about anything by Keene; "Unrequited" by Alanis; "Eleanor" by Low Millions; that new song "Unwritten" by Natasha Bedingfield--how can you not love a song with two hooks?; "Elevation" by U2--not written in '97; some Beck; a bunch of songs from the musical episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"; "Lose Yourself" by Eminem; stuff from a Canadian band, the Trews. I could go on. The list grows yearly. You get the picture. And never when I'm in a bad or morbid mood--only when I hear a kick-ass song on the radio.)

"But you can't play that kind of music at your funeral!" she yelped. "Funerals are sad occasions. The music should be... appropriate!"

"Well, I wasn't thinking 'funeral' so much as 'after-life party,' with plenty of music and good food," I explained. "I want to be remembered as someone who loved music, loved to sing along--loudly--in the car, knew the lyrics to thousands of songs, loved to dance, and never felt like she'd really gotten a lot older than 20, though of course that's the plan. To get a lot older than 20, I mean." (I was in my late 30s at the time.) "I want people to remember me with joy."

"But that's just...just...undignified!" she yelped again.

"Well, hey, you do what you want at your funeral, and I'll do what I want at mine. You have a funeral, I'll have a memorial service and dance party. Different strokes, baby!"

I don't think I convinced her, but hey, what's the phrase? "It's your funeral." That's it exactly.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

To funny ! My aunt always says she wants us to play Rock around the clock for hers...

10:13 AM  
Blogger Alison Rose said...

Which reminds me--I should definitely have some Buddy Holly on my list!

12:25 PM  

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