I’m a big fan of Get It On, the nightly request show on BBC Radio Scotland, presented by Bryan Burnett and a rolling team of producer co-hosts. They do some great themes, and tonight’s was a belter:
A few days ago, they were talking about doing a theme on music for funerals, so I sent him a playlist, taken from just a few of the ceremonies I’ve conducted over the years, and while he could hardly play them all, he did choose one: I thought you might like to see all of them, just to give you an idea of how varied music can be at a time like this.
I’ve been conducting funerals for 12 years, and in that time, I’ve listened to some great music. In a humanist ceremony, you’re free to choose music from any genre and any period, so along with the odd bit of Bach and Mozart, I’ve heard many songs that will be familiar to everyone who listens to the programme, and a few that might not.
Yes, from time to time, we do get Angels by Robbie Williams. We hear Fields of Gold in the Eva Cassidy version, and because I’m in Edinburgh, Sunshine on Leith is, and always will be a perennial favourite.
But alongside these, there have been some surprising and thought provoking choices.
I did a whole ceremony for a lady of 76 when one of Brian Eno’s Ambient Music tracks was playing all the way through.
Even more memorably, I conducted a funeral for a gentleman who’d insisted on having the Sid Vicious version of My Way for the contemplation, and the congregation head-banged all the way through it.
There’s no such thing as typical music for funerals these days. Even if you just skim over these titles, you can see that they bring all kinds of moods to mind.
In no particular order, here they are.
La Vie en Rose by Louis Armstrong
She’s Royal by Tarrus Riley
Shimmer by Shawn Mullins
Don’t Rush the Good Things in Life, by Tina Turner
The Gambler by Kenny Rodgers
Junk by Paul McCartney,
Hang out the Stars in Indiana by Al Bowlly, from the film, Withnail & I
Four Strong Winds by Neil Young
The Dimming of the Day by Alison Krauss, from the Transatlantic Sessions
Solsbury Hill by Peter Gabriel.
Paper Plane by Status Quo from the Piledriver album
Reelin’ in the Years by Steely Dan
Honky Tonk Women by The Rolling Stones
Don’ t look back in anger – Oasis
High, by The Lighthouse Family,
When the going gets tough, by Billy Ocean
500 Miles by The Proclaimers
Thank you for the Days by Kirsty McColl
The Universal by Blur
Another Green World by Brian Eno
Good Souls by Star Sailor
Going Loco down in Acapulco, by The Four Tops
Son of a Preacher Man, by Dusty Springfield
Tender, by Blur
Albatross, by Fleetwood Mac
Moving on Up, by Primal Scream
Moon River by Andy Williams
Tulips from Amsterdam by Max Bygraves
Caledonia, composed by Dougie MacLean and sung by Frankie Miller
Smokestack Lightning (Howlin’Wolf)
Hoochie Coochie Man (Muddy Waters)
Dog House Boogie (Seasick Steve)
Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here
Everlong by Foo Fighters.
‘I will wait’ by ‘Mumford & Sons’
‘You’ve got the love’ by The Source featuring Candi Staton
He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother
Bob Marley, Three Little Birds.
Billy Joel, singing “Just the Way You Are”.
Lowrider by War & Magic Bus by The Who
Led Zeppelin – Good Times, Bad Times
The River by NoMeansNo
And of course…
My Way by Sid Vicious
I’d love to know what you’d choose!