Brian Edwards Media

Rock around the coffin! Would you like Meatloaf with that?



 I was intrigued by a recent story in the Sunday Star Times, headed ‘Musical send-offs rock funerals’. It seems that ‘mourners’ are increasingly moving away from sombre music to see off their friends and rellies and opting instead for pop and rock music. They’re also choosing their own favourites rather than the deceased’s.

I think this is a healthy development. Uncle Fred may well have loved Barry Manilow singing I don’t want to walk without you, but he (Uncle Fred not Barry Manilow) is dead now and unlikely to be upset by the living rejecting his appalling taste in music in favour of something less offensive to their ears.

And even if Uncle Fred’s favourite song was Meatloaf’s Paradise by the Dashboard Light, hearing it played at his funeral might  raise  questions among those familiar with the lyrics about what precisely was going through the 82-year-old’s mind in his later years:

Ain’t no doubt about it
We were doubly blessed
Cause we were barely seventeen
And we were barely dressed

Not to mention the effect on his widow, Auntie Nora of:

I’m praying for the end of time
It’s all that I can do
Praying for the end of time, so I can end my time with you!         

Safer then by far for friends and rellies to regard the music as their going-away present to the deceased. And that, according to the SST story, is precisely what they’re doing.  

However, not all their top choices, listed in the SST’s story, strike me as inspired. Time to Say Goodbye is too obvious; Always look on the Bright Side too ironic; I Want to Break Free too late; My Way (a top favourite) merely points to the futility of human striving; Wind Beneath My Wings is presumptuous; Ring of Fire on the other hand seems to suggest eternal damnation; and Pretty Woman (apparently a favourite in Otago) will offend feminist mourners.

No, I’m in a favour of the one song that both sounds great and conveys the true meaning of the occasion – Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust. I’ll have that at my funeral please with Bette Midler’s Mr Wonderful as a second choice. 

(JC:  How about something more modern, Brian? Kelly Clarkson’s Mr Know It All perhaps?)

Anyway, what piece of music would you like played at your own (or someone else’s) funeral? Let us  know.

[Some great personal suggestions to date. How about funeral music for some of our politicians and public figures.]

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  1. “Going Underground’ -The Jam

  2. Damn it Hamish, you got there ahead of me.

    Also from The Jam: Funeral Pyre

    And I’d like: Don’t look back in anger from Oasis.

  3. The one song that both sounds great and conveys the meaning of the occasion?

    Good music involves a blend of the lyric and the melody. To me, it would be something like this:

  4. Id like the sea shanty The Drunken Sailor to be sung at Margaret Wilsons

    BE: Is there something you want to tell us, Mikey?

  5. I just can’t decide between these two, for my funeral.

    BE: Definitely the second. The first is far too funereal.

  6. I’d like to find somewhere to use the line from “Me and Bobby McGee”:

    “freedom’s just another word, for nothing left to lose…”

  7. My funeral is to be conducted in a Pentecostal Church with the main funeral song being “Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones – yeah that’d do it.

    BE: And to brighten proceedings even further you could have them play Rowen Atkinson’s wonderful track of the devil welcoming people to hell.

  8. Gladys Knight and the Pips – You are the best thing that ever happened to me.

    BE: A message from the deceased or for the deceased?

  9. A close friend has chosen ‘If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands’.

    My choice is ‘Dust in the Wind’ by Kansas.

    BE: I assume you intend to be cremated.

  10. A friend of mine wants Peter Cook and Dudley Moore’s “Goodbye, goodbye , we’re leaving you – tiddly-I – goodbye . . . goodbye (fa-ta-ta-ta …”
    I’m inclining towards that one myself

    BE: I had a long interview with Dudley Moore when he came to New Zealand many years ago. After the interview he came to our house in Karaka Bay and we sat on the beach and chatted. He was a lovely person and, like so many in show business, terribly insecure. I’m not sure whether it was then or later, but he was virtually booed off the stage at one of his shows, because he appeared to be drunk. In fact he was suffering from a brain disease which was in part responsible for his death in 2002. A classic example of the sad clown.

  11. To help get rid of the doleful looks from the tear-stained faces of the weeping mourners — by way of juxtaposition and contrast — I’d rock the funeral chapel, by playing ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ from Monty Python’s ‘The Life of Brian’. (Not our Brian; the other Brian).

  12. Guide me, O, thou Great Jehovah

    (“bread of heaven, bread of heaven, feed me till I want no moooooore…”, but it needs plenty of Welshmen, Polynesians, or other communally gifted singers to make it work)

    BE: A great sound, I agree, Kimbo. But I decline to be guided by any ‘Great Jehovah’ and almost certainly never will be.

  13. Ive always liked Laura Nyro’s “And When Im Gone” performed by Blood Sweat and Tears.For questionable taste “Tell Laura I love Her”

  14. As a longtime atheist & no believer in an afterlife, I might just hedge my bets with ‘Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye’ by Gracie Fields!

    BE: The problem for us atheists is that if we’re right, we never get to say, “Told you so!” And if we’re wrong, there’s a strong possibility we’ll get zapped.

  15. I admired the gumption of an elderly friend who opted for “Wish me Luck as you Wave me Goodbye”, the Gracie Fields version.
    Went down a treat.

    I’m dithering between “Fat Bottomed Girls” and “Love in a Fowl House”.

    BE: May I advise you never to dither between fat-bottomed girls. Potentially very hazardous.

  16. Well I want people to weep, to wail, over my passing. I want freinds throwing themselves to the floor, in consolable . Lots of cathartic release before the long night of drunken partying.
    For that it would be Eva Cassidy Fields of Gold
    Then to lift the spirits a little Luciano Pavarotti’s Nessun Dorma. Especially his last performance
    Then to get it rocking The Who – Won’t get fooled again.
    The maybe some Hendrix, Stones and plenty of great Irish dancing music.

    Sounds great may even show up myself.

    BE: Is that the same Fields of Gold as Sting’s? A really beautiful song. “in consolable” is an interesting neologism.

  17. @ Kimbo
    ” it needs plenty of Welshmen, Polynesians, or other communally gifted singers to make it work)”

    Get them to sing We will rock you by Queen while they are there. By the way get in plenty of drink and food that lot will eat and drink you out of house and home.

  18. Ugh.

    I’m having “It’s not easy being Green” by Kermit the Frog.

    BE: Yes, one of the great sad songs!

  19. ‘Please release me’ by Englebert Humperdinck somehow seems appropriate.

    In your case Brian, however, it has to be the interviewer’s fall back position ‘Suspicious Minds’ by Elvis Presley.

    “Why can’t you see
    What you’re doing to me
    When you don’t believe a word I say’

  20. @ Richard Aston

    “Get them to sing We will rock you by Queen while they are there. By the way get in plenty of drink and food that lot will eat and drink you out of house and home.”

    Queen – hmm, aptly described as, “more anthems than a Nuremberg rally”!

    I caught up with the London Welsh rugby choir when they were out here in 2005 supporting in the wake of Lions tour. I concluded from that experience Welshmen can sing like angels, drink like fish, and swear like sailors, sometimes all three at once.

    “We’re real rugby people, man. Not like the bloody English and Scots who are only ‘ere as bloody tourists!”

    Great fun!

  21. I plan to disappear to Start Me Up by the Rolling Stones as the curtains close on my coffin on the way to the cremator.

    During the service Coldplay’s Fix You will hopefully get a spin. My son says he’ll play See Ya Later Alligator for me.

    BE: And your ghostly voice will reply: In a while, crocodile!

  22. Funerals can be great fun.
    My father died last year and my brothers and I put on a special funeral for him. My dad was an old style comedian and variety performer so we did his funeral on a stage, full lights etc. Hand made coffin looking like a magician’s box. We all spoke and retold some of his well know jokes , along with clown noses. A few of his old show biz mates did numbers on stage. We did some old school sing a longs. We finished by carrying his coffin off stage and out to a standing ovation, which seemed a perfect ending for an old entertainer.

    BE: Love it. There was a great Dave Allen (deceased) sketch in which a famous Shakespearean actor is about to be cremated. After several speeches, the master of ceremonies says, “Farewell Sir Clarence’. The coffin disappears through the curtains.Everyone applauds and, after a few seconds, the coffin comes out again. More applause and the coffin disappears again. More applause…

  23. 23

    For Paula Bennett (or Judith Collins, or Pansy Wong, or … ):

    Ding dong the witch is dead, from the Wizard of Oz.

    Oh yes.

  24. “Goin’ Down Slow” which i think was originally by Blind Lemon Jefferson (or someone of that ilk).

    “Done had my fun and i might never get well no more…”

  25. And for us old timers,
    The one and only Leslie Sarony with

    Ain’t it grand to be blooming well dead

  26. @ Brian
    “BE: Is that the same Fields of Gold as Sting’s? A really beautiful song. “in consolable” is an interesting neologism.”

    Yes same Sting song just better and sweeter.

    Bad spelling is the life blood of neologism!

  27. The picture at the top of your post would do it for me.
    Solemn at the start and uplifting leaving the celebration.

  28. Or for a slightly longer service……!

    BE: Absolutely wonderful! Thanks.

  29. 29

    Negligent Holdings Ltd

    psalm 23 kjv (An oldie but a goodie)

  30. Will Ferrell rendition of Dust in the Wind,

    An upbeat little ditty from Bonnie Prince Billy,

  31. Leopold,

    Thank you.

    Have been (idly) designing my own funeral. This could feature.

  32. Goodness me, my late mum used to burst into the odd verse from Leslie Sarony’s ‘Aint it Grand to be Bloomin Well Dead’, when I was much younger – I was always tickled with the line ‘Look at the earthworms, bloomin well wriggling’. That was her rationale for wanting to be cremated! She was. Watching that clip was the first time I have actually heard it being rendered!

  33. OMG – please excuse the pun. Not really intended.

  34. Love Is All Around – Wet Wet Wet version…

    There’s no beginning, there’ll be no end…

  35. How about the Liverpool anthem ” “You’ll always walk alone “