I have long maintained that the same thing holds true for both funerals and weddings: The party isn't really for the ones in the box. The silver lining, such as it was, to the abrupt and unexpected passing of my father was the opportunity that it gave us to plan his memorial service. It opened with a guy playing "Amazing Grace" on bagpipes. It was one of dad's favorites, but the bagpipes were more for his sons who thought a little "Star Trek II: Wrath Of Khan" in-joke would be amusing for anyone who noticed us giggling in the front pew. On the way out, we blasted "Stars And Stripes Forever." We played it partly because it always made my dad cry, and partly because it made most of those in attendance leave scratching their heads.
Still, none of this is as odd as AC/DC's "Highway To Hell" or Queen's "Another One Bites The Dust." These were named among some of the most popular funeral songs in a recent British poll. Frank Sinatra's "My Way" was voted most popular. Quite a nice bit of irony from the staid and reserved folks across the pond. Even Meat Loaf got a few votes for "Bat Out Of Hell." I'm guessing that must have been quite the wake.
All of this got me thinking about my own curtain call. About the time my son was born, my wife insisted that we create some sort of documentation in the eventuality of our demise. This may have been a reaction to the haphazard way my father left his affairs, or just a layer of proactive planning that gave us all peace of mind. I didn't spend much time on the fiscal end of things, preferring instead to plan for the way I wanted people to see, think, hear and feel at my memorial. I had thought about opening with Elton John's "Funeral For A Friend," in part because it is so obvious, but also because it was the theme to my first film, "Drac Comes Back." Other than the soundtrack to my sixth grade attempts at cinema, I was flummoxed by the sheer number of songs that I felt that I needed to sum up my existence. "Cadillac Ranch," and "Dying Cubs Fan's Last Request" were near the top of the list, but that list kept shifting and changing. And even now, when I think about the songs that I would add from the past ten years, I wonder if any of the effort that I have put in will matter when all is said and done. The truth is, I trust my son to do exactly the right thing when that time comes, and in the meantime I hope I get a lot more time to revise that playlist.