Here Comes the Flood (Peter Gabriel)
Not Perfect Day (Lou Reed).
OUR FRIEND GRANT WANTS:
Funeral For a Friend (Elton John) at commencement
Comfortably Numb (the Pink Floyd original, not the Scissor Sisters‘ version – although we like that as well)
Roll Away the Stone (Leon Russell) at conclusion.
P THINKS A SAMPLE OF THESE MIGHT SUIT HIM:
It’s Time (Elvis Costello)
The Final Taxi (Wreckless Eric)
Trauermarsch (Richard Wagner)
+ (maybe) The deformed lady singing In Heaven on stage during Eraserhead:
P’s DAD WANTED (& GOT):
St Louis Blues (Glenn Miller Band)
Of course, a funeral service is a great place to reflect, perforce, on an individual piece of music (as well as the inevitable new knowledge about the deceased, that you should have known and never did). You can appraise it anew, by reference to the departed. At a recent service, I wondered at the choice of Bright Eyes till I heard the reference to following the river of death downstream, and Brothers in Arms with its trite observation that every man has to die. Songs about sleep often arise of course, which makes the popularity of Nessun Dorma somewhat odd, strangely counter-intuitive, like playing “Every Breath You Take” at a wedding.
We can’t snigger at choices like Tears in Heaven, Hallelujah, What a Wonderful World or Over the Rainbow: these mean different things to different people and it is not the point to apply one’s personal aesthetic to others. You can argue about art and aesthetics till the sun blows up, though it is possible we have spoken of this before. Come to think of it, there is a pertinent observation about art and artifice in that literary classic, Tranquillity: “Art…is just a process of extracting emotion through technique.”
P likes the observations on death by Kenneth Tynan, referring to the plays of John Webster: “For Webster death is a real and considerable presence; he is the ultimate and the immediate adversary ; he must be plotted against, cajoled, parleyed with, met in cunning and in battle, and, if strength and wits hold, defeated. No matter what the turning of the plot, each character knows his real condition: black to play and mate in two.”
Of course, there is also the tricky instance of selecting a suitable song for the not-so-dearly departed. When Krushchev gazed at Stalin’s coffin, did he hum to himself the Cossack Song, or perhaps a few lines from the Fields/Kern classic The Way You Look Tonight?