Death Songs

I’ve been curating a singular playlist for as long as it’s been possible to have digital playlists. I’ve migrated this list from service to service and device to device. On occasion, I change out a song or maybe two. But, the core of the list seldom changes. This is the list of songs to play at my funeral, in no particular order.

Bring It on Home to Me - Sam Cooke
While the song is his pleading to his lover to come back, there’s still a swagger in the delivery that meets with that tasty saxophone part to make this so damn sexy.

Christ Jesus - Deer Tick
There’s an ominous version of this song on their album War Elephant but I prefer the version from the Black Dirt Sessions. It uses a ringing piano instead of a bass and the lyrics feel a bit more present. I’ve been a seeker my whole life. This song understands that frazzled energy.

Live Oak - Jason Isbell
This song touches on a feeling I’ve had many times. Any of us that have gone through things that expose our darker dualities get it.

Tired of Being Alone - Al Green
This is where Hall and Oates stole it from. Another pleading man who might not be fully honest with himself or his lady friend.

Holding Back the Years - Simply Red
For my Dad.

Song for Zula - Phosphorescent
I’m happy that I haven’t had my heart broken like this poor bastard. The fury in this song is scary but it’s delivered with such despair that it becomes beautiful.

Change of Time - Josh Ritter
Wrestles with infinities with disarming simplicity.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow - Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
Schmaltzy perhaps and beautiful in equal measure.

Atlantic City - The Band
Yes. A cover of the Springsteen tune. I like this version better.

Farewell Transmission - Songs: Ohia
Jason Molina is my favorite songwriter. He was able to see something in between the lines the rest of us fixate on. He was a conduit for a timeless yearning.

Many Rivers to Cross - Jimmy Cliff
There’s always one more river, Jimmy.

Jesus, Etc. - Wilco
I’ve often said this is one of the saddest songs but, jesus, don’t cry about it.

I’ve Just Seen a Face - The Beatles
That rush of love at first sight. It happened to me. It could happen to you.

Astral Plane - Valerie June
Her voice echoes an ancient Appalachia and then stretches to some future space zen godhead. It’s odd and tender and fragile and springs from the Earth.

A Little Bit of Everything - Dawes
The metaphors are strained but the feelings are real. I get the deep dissatisfaction this song finds a solution to.

No Hard Feelings - The Avett Brothers
I hope this is how it goes at the end.

The Maze - Manchester Orchestra
What a wonderful evocation of the complexities of loving someone to the point that it confounds you.

Gardening at Night - R.E.M.
My favorite band of all time and the first song of theirs that I ever heard. It will forever be at the center of my heart.

You can listen on this playlist.