Sunday 6 November 2016

Funeral Soundtrack

My uncle died earlier this year. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in September last year and given six months to live. With the aid of chemotherapy, he lasted a year, but sadly, the treatment took its toll and while it prolonged his life, he suffered badly as a result.

In the end, his condition was so bad that his immediate family regarded his passing as a blessing.

He was 68 years old and his name was Paul.

What I found amazing about him was the way he dealt with his condition. I went to visit him and I found a man who was surprisingly cheerful and even joked about his appearance and the treatment. He was very candid about how he felt but, with a smile on his face, he told us how he had remained optimistic. It was clear that he had accepted what was happening to him and the inevitable conclusion.

I was proud of him. He was a very brave man.

His immediate family held him in the highest esteem and effectively had a year to prepare themselves for his eventual loss. When I heard, I called my aunt and cousin to express my condolences and my own pain too and they seemed to be okay but understandably heartbroken.

Mrs PM and I went to funeral where the family turned up and a lot of friends.

Paul was a popular guy and the funeral was very moving.

During the ceremony, his coffin was present with a photograph of him with a cheerful smile that I will remember him by.

I liked Paul a lot.

But one of the main things I remember about the funeral was his choice of songs to play as we all celebrated his life, songs that might just accompany him onto the next phase, if such a phase exists. He chose three songs that he loved – one by Elvis Presley, one by the Beatles and another rock and roll number that I didn’t recognise but was totally upbeat.

Although we were all upset, it kind of made me feel positive in a strange kind of way. I’m too sceptical to believe in an afterlife and, although I am a Catholic, I don’t really buy the idea that we will all go to meet our maker if I’m honest. I realise that if God reads my blog (as he surely must – because he is omnipotent) he may be noting down things I’ve written about Purgatory and Heaven.

He may know that when I openly say “Yes I believe in God”, that in my mind, my own scientific mind is analysing the whole idea of Christianity and thinking “Really?”.

But the whole point to this post is not to dwell on the religious aspects of death; I want to portray the positive undercurrent of the funeral, which, although is a desperately sad occasion, can also be and should also be a celebration of the person’s life.

And what better way to depart than to have people talk about the good things and celebrate his or her life with the music that they loved.

Of course, I realise that being a lover of heavy metal and rock music, some of my choices of the songs to accompany me on my way to the next dimension might be in poor taste but I think I might opt for three songs that were all positive.

In fact, I hope that my demise is a long, long way away – I plan to live forever – and that by then my collection of songs will be so enormous that I will it hard to choose.

I have well over 7000 songs in my collection and I could have gone through the entire lot and spent a month whittling them down to choose three songs to send me off. However, while I love my own music, I decided just to swiftly scan them.

I came up with the following, deliberately rejecting Stairway To Heaven by Led Zeppelin because, as much as I love it, I think it is a little too corny.

So here they are:

Blue Öyster Cult – (Don’t Fear) The Reaper

Okay – I know you may mock me for this choice because it sounds a bit corny, similar to Stairway To Heaven. The difference here is that I genuinely love this song and, while there is a theme of death, I personally think it is very positive, basically seeing, don’t fear death, we can fly and eventually we will all be together again in eternity.

Oh – and I love the guitar solo in the middle of the song.

Journey – Remember Me

I have been known to mock power ballads and AOR, and in the past Journey have been a great target because they personify the essence of what I dislike about this style of slushy, lovey-dovey nonsense. 

Yet, as much as I dislike Journey, they have produced three brilliant songs that I simply cannot mock. Remember Me is one of them – a beautiful piece of music that I wish they had embraced more often. 

The song is about somebody leaving a relationship, but I think that the lyrics apply perfectly to the loss of a loved one. This song would be directed at Mrs PM, but I think that the rest of the funeral congregation might also find meaning. It would effectively my dying wish imploring the people I love not to forget me.

Dream Theater – The Answer Lies Within

This is a beautiful song and while it sounds quite melancholy, once again the lyrics are wonderful and positive. While the last song may have been a little selfish (with me saying “Don’t forget me!”) this song would be my positive final message,  asking my loved ones to carry on and just be as brilliant as I know they can be:

You’ve got the future on your side
You’re gonna be fine now
I know whatever you decide
You’re gonna shine

And finally ...

Well that’s all a bit morbid, isn’t it? I’m sure that if I were to run through my music collection with an impish glint in my eye, I might choose this one – the lyrics are very funny:

I hope God has a sense of humour and forgives me on Judgement Day.

And, Paul, I’ll miss you! Say “Hi” to my Dad for me.


Elephant's Child said...

Lovely post, though none of the clips would play for me.
I went to a funeral recently where fifteen minutes was put aside for people to sign, and/or draw on the coffin. Writing implements provided.
At the end, the family took photos.
I was a bit taken aback, but it did give people the chance to leave a final message for Chris. A most excellent person taken too soon.
There were tributes from politicians, and which would have meant a lot more to Chris, a busload of homeless people came to say goodbye.
And friends sang a song they had written for her.

River said...

I really like Don't Fear the Reaper and no laughing in Heaven is funny, but I don't think I'd want that at my funeral.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi EC,

It sounds like Chris will be sorely missed :-(

I like the idea of writing a final message, although people tend to do that with cards in my experience.



Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi River,

I don't think I'd have the courage to use "No Laughing In Heaven" really.