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Please Don’t Play Electronica at My Funeral

jamie mclean band funky big sam jan 5 11 002

Following two recent exchanges with my children, I have begun to contemplate my own mortality and musical legacy.  Please allow me to explain.

During a conversation with one of my sons some weeks ago, he looked me full in the face and suddenly pronounced, “You are middle-aged.”  I had two immediate concerns:

1.  The tone of his voice and the solemnity of his expression made his meaning clear.  This was a death sentence.  “You are middle-aged. You are going to die.”  I thought that I had a few years left.

2.  His announcement was not a revelation to me.  Middle age welcomed me a few years back.  The fact that my son did not notice suggests that he has very limited powers of observation.  I worry that I will never be allowed to move from middle to elder age and retire, as I will have to support an absent-minded son.

Fast forward to the recent holidays when I had occasion to drive my eldest son to New York City.  Key turns in the ignition, engine purrs and the radio plays acoustic rock.  My son punches a button; I am startled and glance his way.  He brusquely announces “You need to respect my music.”  Fair enough.  For two and one-half hours without interruption, without relief and without complaint, I respected his music.  Here is my concern:

1.  I felt no connection to the music.  Some of it was well done, some just clamorous; none of the electronic music touched me.  It was background noise that ran easily behind our conversation.  Said my son “That’s why I like it.”  Whether it’s personal preference or rejection of an anesthetic digital age, I prefer music that lifts the heart and stirs the soul.

Please don’t play electronica at my funeral.

What music then to play? I am far from the first to ponder this issue.  Here’s a nice list of song choices that one blogger put together.  I don’t want any of them.  No, no I don’t.  While the melodies are beautiful and the lyrics sincere, the songs are not a true  reflection of my life or even the message that I might choose to leave behind as my legacy.

I don’t want carbon copy music by the numbers.  I now believe that I should commission an original song for my funeral; in fact I view this as a cottage industry in the making.  Who wouldn’t choose to impart one last personal message to their friends and loved ones, especially when an unwelcome retort will go unheard?  The song could tell the story of a life well lived, impart a long held philosophy, or explain why Joe isn’t getting the half share he expected.  Think about it; wouldn’t you prefer to leave a personal imprint on an event that is really all about you?

The style could be rock, folk, rap, country, anything that you prefer.  Your song, your message.  In fact, you could sing/rap/talk on the track; the assembly could sing along with you at  your funeral and take home a CD of your song at the end - a party favor, if you will.  Your friends already own albums by The (Grateful) Dead.  Yours can be filed on the same shelf. 

I am still thinking through the myriad options, but I do know this.  I’d like at least two part harmony during the chorus of my song.  I’ll take the high part, you take the low.  If the reluctant and/or off key singers could simply snap their fingers in time to the beat, I’d be grateful.

I’m dead serious.

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