Thursday, March 08, 2007

.....way to go!

I’ve given a lot of thought over the years to what music I would like played at my funeral. My choices have changed as I’ve slowly become to appreciate a wider range of musical styles, but I,m determined to have what I want, not something chosen for me. After all it will be my day. What happens at the bash afterwards doesn’t concern me at all. I will have had my little indulgence, and now all I will want is a bit of peace and quiet while my loved ones enjoy themselves in any way they like!I’ve often discussed this plan of mine and have been accused of being macabre, and told to live the moment. But my argument has always been, that tomorrow I could be run over by a bus, and at my funeral I’ll be sent off with something by Des O’Connor or the Spice Girls, and that would never do!
My friends will expect me to have Elvis Presley singing ‘Ole Shep. This awful song has haunted me all my life and don’t intend letting it do so for eternity. I’ve had to sing it year in year out wherever a few are gathered together and a guitar is at hand. New Year parties, birthdays, even on holiday in far away places.
It all started when I was about 16 and I entered a talent contest in a community centre in Uckfield. Now Uckfield ain’t exactly Las Vegas, and the prize on offer wasn’t a recording contract, but I won! Old ladies in the front row were seen to shed a tear.
In retrospect, singing a song about a dog being shot was hardly appropriate at a do put on to raise money for Raystede Animal Rescue Centre! But that didn’t occur to me at the time.
Anyway, no ‘Ole Shep. And I’m not having My Way either, nor do I want Road to Hell even though it is one of my all time favourites. That may just be tempting fate. I intend to nip out quickly when the devils not looking!
I want the music to be thought provoking, and appropriate to the occasion. I want a mix of old and new - from the serious to the frivolous.
I want to make my exes shed a tear just to get my own back. Does that sound mean?
Now, what shall I have as my overture? I know - we’re not having ‘Ole Shep, so how about Berlioz ’The Shepherds Farewell’? It is after all a most beautiful piece of music and well in keeping with the mood I hope to create. Yes, perfect.
At this point it is usual to join in a hymn. I think ’How great thou art’ is probably my all time favourite. It’s actually a Swedish folk tune with words translated from Russian - not that that’s particularly important. But it is a cracking sing.
Then I think it’s time for reflection. I’ve quite a bit of time on my own over the years and always put a brave face on it. But actually, I have sometimes been very lonely. One song sums up my feelings - ’All by myself’ by Eric Carman. Yes, says it all.
Classical music does not have to be centuries old. John Taverner is about my age. He writes sacred music that makes me tingle all over. His harmonies are complex using layer upon layer of notes, and at times he uses discord to profound and moving effect. To pick one piece is an impossible task, but I never fail to be moved when I hear ‘Hymn to the mother of God’ sung by a really competent choir.
Let’s have another hymn. It’s tempting to reel out that funeral favourite ’The day they gavest Lord has ended’ but I’m not going for it. No, I recon a good belter like ‘Guide me oh thy great redeemer' is spot on. I love the harmonies, and I want everyone to have a crack at them!
I realise I wont have time for all these pieces even if you book a double session, but I really need to complete my list even if some are left out. But please don’t leave out Abba singing ‘The winner takes it all’. Story of my life. I was never the winner, just like in the song.
A piece of music that has always made me sit back and smile is Mozart's 'Lacrimosa'. Ok, so it has no relevance to the occasion whatsoever, but I love it! It’s loud - almost vulgar - and it’s grand and very very noisy!
This is probably a good place to pop Neil Diamond in singing 'I am I said' Took the words right out of my mouth!
But I have kept my favourite to last. Another piece by Mozart. 'Ave Verum Corpus' I don’t have the faintest idea what it’s about. My education didn’t include Latin. But it stirs the emotions like no other piece of music I’ve ever heard.
That about completes it. I know it’s not to everyone’s taste, but please let me indulge myself for one final time. Hopefully you will hear what I hear when I listen to these pieces. Maybe - just maybe - you’ll enjoy them too!


  1. Alice, Tim & the kids8 Mar 2007, 09:15:00

    Blimey Keith . . . . . not sure what to say about this one - morbid or what! Don't kick the bucket yet though - you've got decades left in you yet and all that futuristic music yet to listen to!
    Alice Tim & the kids

  2. Here is a thought don't even think about it your too young. Yes I know anything can happen at anytime but lets not think of it too morbid really.



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