I’m not sure how I feel about 'The Laughing Policeman’ * being played at Mr SDS’ funeral but he tells me that’s what he wants. He’s not dead yet, but you know how these things come up in conversation every so often. Either that, he says, or ‘The Galaxy Song’ from the end credits of Monty Python’s ‘The Meaning Of Life’. I think I’d be more comfortable with that choice, although I can’t help wonder mischievously what the reaction might be to the aforementioned cackling copper from those long lost relatives who just came for the after-show egg & cress sarnies. (Incidentally, his third and perhaps most sinister request is the Beatles' ’I’ll Be Back’…)
Don’t you think it’d be a good idea for everybody to keep a note of their preferred funeral playlist which loved ones could then refer to when the time comes? You’d need to update it as and when your tastes change, of course, not that it will actually matter to you at the time whether your remains are wheeled in or out to ‘Pretty Vacant’ or a throat-singing Tibetan monk’s chants, but it would be one less thing for your bereaved to have to mull over. My instructions would definitely stipulate, at the very least, that there must be no clichés. Pleeease, no ‘Angels’ by Robbie Williams, nor Celine Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On’. Yuk. If I didn’t like it in life then you can be assured that I’m not going to like it in death; even though I’ll be (presumably) in blissful ignorance, please don’t insult my memory.
Then there’s the matter of ego. If I got off on the thought that my friends and family might weep inconsolably at my departure, I’d want them to choose something heart-rendingly sad. The kind of song that makes your eyes water and your throat go dry even when the sun is shining and you’ve just found a tenner down the back of the sofa. ‘Banks Of The Nile’ by Fotheringay turns on my saltwater taps in an instant, as does Bowie’s version of ‘Wild Is The Wind’ (and here I must also mention his superb rendition of Jacques Brel’s ‘My Death’ which doesn’t so much have me in tears as make my spine tingle rather nicely). But I wouldn’t want my funeral-goers to have to deal with all that awkwardness of snotty noses, running mascara and where to keep their man-size tissues, uncontrollably triggered by a mere minor key or mournful vocal; I’d rather they could smile.
For me, nobody says it better than Jake Thackray in ‘Last Will and Testament’. Perhaps that’s the song I’d want?
* Mr SDS is very definitely NOT a policeman. Far from it.