I was thinking the other day about the music I might like to have played at my funeral, as you do. I might be cremated, buried in an eco-friendly coffin or, like the recently passed away genius author Iain Banks, have some of my ashes fired up in a rocket. Whatever happens to my remains, the ceremony will most certainly be a secular humanist one.
As I was walking around the supermarket this morning I tried to think of all the songs I knew about death or celebrating life that had a strongly secular/humanist vibe. They’re plucked from memory so it’s a pretty eclectic collection, and there's a mix of songs that represent both the deceased and those left behind.
You might feel that the songs are not be totally appropriate for the occasion, but they befit my tastes and sense of humour, and the joy of a humanist ceremony is that it can be almost exactly how you want it. Neither my wife nor I have ever really worried about ceremonial convention too much: Exactly four years ago this coming Thursday we played this as the exit music to our humanist wedding.
When I asked my wife what she might like, to my horror she chose James Blunt’s Goodbye My Lover. She managed to redeem herself (somewhat) and stop me reaching for the divorce papers by also suggesting Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now.
The songs are listed in no particular order, although the ones that come first are the ones are the ones that came to mind easiest and therefore probably mean the most to me. A good godless rock song escapes me, though I am sure there are many out there, so any suggestions are welcome.
The links to each song are to lyrics.com
The Flaming Lips: Do You Realize?
Louis Armstrong: What a Wonderful World
Queen: Don’t Stop Me Now
Samuel Barber: Adaggio for strings
Eric Idle: Always Look on the Bright Side of Life (from Monty Python’s Life of Brian)
Moby: We Are All Made Of Stars
Queen: Who Wants To Live Forever?
The Beatles: In My Life
REM: Everybody Hurts
The Beatles: Across the Universe
Sandy Denny: Who Knows Where The Time Goes?
Simon and Garfunkel: Sound of Silence
Dennis Wilson: Thoughts Of You