Ever since Elton John sang an adapted version of his song Candle In The Wind at Princess Diana’s funeral in 1997, the music at such services has become increasingly secular.
And now, according to a report I read recently, non-religious songs are set to overtake hymns as the music of choice at funerals across this country within two years.
The most popular songs over the past decade have been Robbie Williams’ Angels, Everybody Hurts by REM and perhaps, most poignantly of all, Eric Clapton’s Tears In Heaven.
A funeral I attended 15 months ago of a friend who had died of cancer in his 40s, was a service overflowing with emotion and yet it ended with smiles on the faces of those at the packed service with the coffin being lead out of church to the strains of Mr Blue Sky by ELO.
But many people choose more outrageous selections, intent on going out with a bang, as it were. Anyone for AC/DC’s Highway To Hell, Hallowed Be Thy Name by Iron Maiden or the worryingly titled Buried Alive from Black Sabbath’s Dehumaniser album?
Each to their own, I suppose.
I haven’t written anything in my will about funeral arrangements and nor would I imagine have too many people under 50 but I remember having a conversation with one of my best mates about how we’d celebrate each other’s life if by some misfortune, one of us copped it prematurely.
Ironically, for a self-confessed agnostic, my pal insists his send-off would be traditionally High Church with his music confined to religious music. And so his selection would include Abide With Me, I Vow To Thee My Country and Jerusalem.
Just to wind him up, I suggested I’d favour Irish Rebel Songs!
While he, as a non-believer, would opt for religious music, I, as a Catholic, would be quite happy to have secular music intermingled with more pious fare at my funeral.
Trust me, there wouldn’t be a dry eye in the house when my songs of choice, cascaded off the church walls.
First, I’d go for Dire Straits’ You And Your Friend from the band’s final studio album On Every Street.
Sedate, yet moving, soulful but not doleful , it features some of the most beautiful guitar work of Mark Knopfler’s distinguished career and would set the scene perfectly.
If the hankies weren’t out after this, my second choice would guarantee water works. Fleetwood Mac’s Say Goodbye, as the title suggests, is hauntingly final. Evocativel words, a heart-tugging melody and a beaautiful duet sung by those long-lost lovers Lindsey Buckinham and Stevie Nicks.
Finally music for a grand exit and, at the risk of being mocked for choosing a Phil Collins-sung track off Trick Of The Tail – Ripples by Genesis.
Collins does indeed pour his heart and soul into the song but it is the quite stunning keyboards of Tony Banks which makes Ripples so appropriate for what, I hope you agree, would be a deeply moving occasion.
Naturally, I hope this playlist isn’t aired for at least another four decades but if my chance something horrible does happen to me and as I haven’t included any music in my last will and testament……….
Will someone please print out this blog and hand it over to the priest at my local church please?