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12-Song Funeral

Updated on November 1, 2018

By: Wayne Brown

Last evening I was involved in a conversation regarding a funeral service and some activities associated with the desires of the deceased. It set me to thinking what my desires would be if I was the deceased. So, in the interest of having this done correctly was I transpire, I will share my desires for my funeral with you just in case my wife is not reading my hubs. If some of you would like to a prayer or two and a hymn of your choosing that will be fine. I just need the following twelve songs played in this order. Oh, and by the way, whatever you add, keep it short, as people have lives to live and they are very aware of it when they attend funerals. And please, the above song, "Amazing Grace" does not count in the dozen. It is only included here to soften you up a bit and get you crying!  Please  no bagpipes at my funeral!


“Start Me Up” - The Rolling Stones

I think it would be good once everyone is seated to get things started with a bang. So, in that respect, what could be better than “Start Me Up”? Also, let’s not just assume that I’m dead at this point. That might be a mistake. This song will remove all doubt because if I am not, I will immediately show up and start dancing. I’m not much of a dancer but this song makes me want to dance an roll my lips doing my best Mick Jagger impression. I would quote some verse from the song, but who really knows what Mick Jagger is singing! It’s rock at roll at its dead level best, no pun intended.


“Hello In There” - John Prine

Whether I am sitting there in an urn or laid out in a casket, I want everyone saying “Hello In There” just like John Prine so aptly said it. The song was written as a beautiful and sad appreciation of old people. Since I hope that I will be quite old by the time you hold my funeral, it seems appropriate that John Prine probably wrote this song for me. The last verse of the song goes: “If you’re walkin’ down the street sometimes, and spot some distant, hollow eyes, Please don’t just pass them by and stare, Say Hello In There, Hello in There, Hello”. I would be right proud to have Mr. Prine sitting somewhere on the back row in the amen corner if he should show up to bid me adieu. By then, maybe I’ll be famous and he will know me by my name.


“Long Cool Woman” - The Hollies

You know, there are just some things in life that you just never lose your taste for, like banana puddin’ for example. This song is like that for me. It has a great beat and moves along at the perfect clip. “Saturday Night I Was Downtown, Workin’ For The FBI. Sittin’ In A Nest Of Bad Men, Whiskey Bottles Piling High….” That song just gets me walking up and down the street repeating those lyrics. So that’s just one more way to be quite sure that I am dead.

“The Ride” - David Allan Coe

I figure I’ll need one more ride once I pass on so it might as well be with Hank Williams and David Allan Coe. I’ll sit in the back seat of that old Cadillac while Hank drives and Coe plays the licks on the guitar. We’ll sing this song as we roll toward that Tennessee line where Hank will put us out and head back. The chorus of this one goes, “Mister can you make folks cry when you play and sing, Have you paid your dues, Do you moan the blues, Can you bend them guitar strangs? Mister can you make folks feel what you feel inside? Cause if you’re big star bound let me warn ya, it’s a long hard ride.” Then those lonesome licks on that electric guitar echo and fade just like I will.


“Let Him Roll” - Guy Clark

This song is about an old wino who wasted away his final years in a cheap hotel dreamin’ about the unrequited love which he held for a prostitute. The last verse goes, “The welfare people provided the priest and a couple from the mission down the street, sang “Amazing Grace” and no one cried ‘cept a little old lady way off to the side. And we all moved away and she was standing there with a long black ribbon in her silver hair. And old One-Eyed John said her name was “Alice” and she use to be a whore down in Dallas. Let him roll, let him roll, bet he’s gone to Dallas rest his soul. Let him roll, let him roll, he always said that heaven was just a Dallas whore.” That song speaks to me of a broken heart and the sadness of age running the clock out before it could be mended. I guess I’ve seen some of that in some ways. The song brings tears to my eyes when I perform it.


“Pancho And Lefty” - Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard (written by Townes VanZandt)

I chose this one because no man should head off to the hereafter without hearing the lyrics of Townes VanZandt just one more time. This man could write with the easy of a feather floating on the breeze. His words were honest and true and touched you with the pain that his eyes had seen. Some he caused, some he suffered. He died much too soon probably from his own abuse. The final verse of this song goes, “The poets tell how Pancho fell and let his living in a cheap hotel. The desert’s quiet, Cleveland’s cold and so the story ends we’re told. Pancho needs your prayers it’s true but say a few for Lefty too. He only did what he had to do and now he’s growin’ old.” Every time I hear that verse I think of the things that so many people have to live out their life with toiling under its weight day in and day out. Maybe Lefty killed Pancho; at the very least he turned him in for the reward. They were friends. Lefty had to live with that decision the rest of his life which turned out to be a lot longer than the one which Pancho lived. I hope that by the time you are listening to this at my funeral, I will have long since laid my burdens down.

“Understand Your Man” - Johnny Cash (written by Bob Dylan)

I had to have one more Cash song as my tribute to a man who gave us so much of himself through his music. He also was about the only person around who showed any interest in giving Bob Dylan a change to make it in music. Looking back, we sure would have missed out on a lot if Dylan had been allowed to fade into obscurity. Cash made sure that did not happen. Dylan has never forgotten his support. The last verse of the song is my favorite. “You can give my other suits to Salvation Army, and everything I leave behind. I ain’t takin’ nothing’ that will slow down my travelin’ while I’m untangling my mind. I ain’t gonna repeat what I said anymore, while I breathing air that ain’t been breathed before. I’ll be as gone as a wild goose in winter, then you’ll understand your man, understand your man.” There’s one line in there that fits perfectly with me on all those women that just didn’t appreciate me and things didn’t work out. So, girls, you know who you are and you can be damn sure this time that I will be “as gone as a wild goose in winter.” As much as I would like to have Cash perform this live at my funeral, he’s gone on ahead but that’s all right. If Dwight Yoakum can get by and do it for me, I’d be right proud.

“Desperados Waiting For A Train” - Guy Clark

Clark wrote this song about a young boy and an old man who hung around together. The boy listen to his stories and imagined that the two of them were like “desperados waiting for a train” so they could pull off a robbery and move to the next one. He worshipped the old man and cried as he watched them die. I hope that I can have that much impact on someone before I catch that final ride. The final verse of this song goes, “Before he died I went back home to see him, I was grown and he was nearly gone. But conjured ourselves up an old kitchen and sang one more verse to that old song. (spoken: Look out Jack, that sum-bitch is comin’ on!). Like desperados waiting for a train, desperados waiting for a train…” Imagination…what a wonderful thing!


“Against The Wind” - Bob Seger

We spend most of our lives running against the wind, some of us more than others. It is not so hard in our youth but we tire more quickly as we age and life becomes more and more complex. By then we recognize the wind that we are running against because we have seen it before. “Well those drifters days are past me now. I’ve go so much more to think about. Deadlines and commitments, what to leave in, what to leave out. Against the wind, we were running against the wind, we were young and strong and running against the wind.” How can you listen to those words and not be reminded of youth, determination, defeat, failure, and getting back up to dust yourself off for one more ride. We all feel the wind.


“Dixie” - Anybody!

I grew up in the much criticized red neck hills of the south. It was a place and still is where people jumped to their feet in respect at the first tones of this song. Regardless of sides in the Civil War, regardless of issues faced. For all its ugliness there were things that gave people hope and pulled them together to face the ravages of war. Most of them lost everything when Sherman made his march eastward to Atlanta burning and killing everything in sight. The sound of Dixie play inspired a lot of hope in those people and it still very much inspires their ancestors today. It is an eternal part of the fabric of the southland and I cannot imagine a time when it would not be. So if it’s my choice, you can play “Dixie” as I die. “ A Way down yonder in the land of cotton, old times there are not forgotten, look away, look away, look away Dixieland.”


“Rainy Night In Georgia” - Tony Joe White

Now get this right. I want to hear this song and I want to hear it done by the guy who wrote, Tony Joe White. Don’t show up with anybody else because it will not work for me. Tony knows why he wrote and what the words all mean. He gave them birth and he gives them meaning like no one else can. “Find me a place in a boxcar so I take my guitar to pass the time. Late at night when its hard to rest, I hold your picture to my chest and I feel fine. A rainy night in Georgia, a rainy old night in Georgia. Lord, I believe it’s rainin’ all over the world, I believe it’s rainin’ all over the world.”


“Star Spangled Banner” - (Someone Who Can Sing!)

There is probably nothing worse in music than to hear this song performed by someone who cannot sing but does not find it out until high note time. So, please make sure whoever you get to do this can hit the high notes and hit them well. This is the song of America and it deserves to be performed to as near absolute perfection as humanly possible ever time it is sung. I would prefer that you have the singer do it acapella so we can relish the words. I want every one to stand and place their hands over their heart or offer a proper military salute. Should Obama show up to pay his respects, he can either do that or leave. “And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof to the night that our flag was still there. Oh, say does that star spangled banner yet wave ‘oer the land of the free, and the home of the brave.”


And there you have it, the plan for my final departure. I hope you can make it and I certainly do not plan for it to be one of those short-notice things. With that, I will end on a note of humor by Richard Pryor talking about a man who had died and the preacher was up in the pulpit as the deceased lay in his open casket below. The preacher said, “I can tell by the look on this boy’s face that death was a surprise to his ass!” Well, that about sums it up for me. I want death to be a surprise to my ass as well! We'll let the King close the service with one you heard before recommended by a friend. Good Night David, Good Night Chet.


©Copyright WBrown2010. All Rights Reserved.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2010 Wayne Brown


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    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      9 years ago from Texas

      @Ghost32...Yeah, this one is not the best for sizing up my writing. Outside of westerns, you might also try "Gin House Blues", "Desert Destiny", and anything in my "Conversation Pieces" series...there are 10 of those but they all start with that term in the title. WB

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Not bad, even if it did take me a heck of a while to get through it--kept stopping long enough to sing along with the songs, get choked up, go find a tissue, and start over.

      Don't figure to write out my own funeral requests much, though. Planning on simply outliving everybody that knows me, then slipping quietly out the back.

      Got a song for my life, however: Waylon Jennings, Will the Wolf Survive.

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      9 years ago from Texas

      @Poohgranma...I draw my emotions my the likes of "Hello In There" and "Let Him Roll". Coe's "The Ride" has a way of bringing me back to a humbleness with its lines, "Mister can you make folks cry when you play and sing?"....It reminds me that on my best day of writing, maybe I cannot accomplish what I desire. "Rainy Night In Georgia" as done by Tony Joe White...who could do it better than the guy who wrote it? That song is "buttah" to smooth and soothing. And "Start Me Up"...Yep, throw a set of jumper cables on my heart and give it one last crank! LOL! Thanks much for the read and the good words. Glad that I could entertain you! WB

    • Poohgranma profile image


      9 years ago from On the edge

      Wayne, thanks for a wonderful evening. I went looking up songs I hadn't heard, or artists, and spent the last few hours enjoying the music of old favorites and artists I can't believe I missed.

      “Hello In There” - John Prine, has tears slipping down my cheeks and how could I not have known

      “Rainy Night In Georgia” was written by Tony Joe White?

      I'm sorry that you contemplating your death and funeral is what it took to get my attention but if you have to go I guess this is a pretty decent exit, introducing me to these fabulous people.

      We'll all miss you, provided I haven't gone before but with this line up if I can sneak back maybe I'll be there anyway. ~Peace and love~and thanks!

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      9 years ago from Texas

      @Truckstop Sally...that's a real good choice...I think lots of folks would go with that one! WB

    • Truckstop Sally profile image

      Truckstop Sally 

      9 years ago

      Never given much thought to my funeral or the music . . . but I would request my favorite song of all time - What a Wonderful World by Louis Armsrtong.

      The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky

      Are also on the faces of people going by

      I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do

      They're really saying I love you.

      I hear babies crying, I watch them grow

      They'll learn much more than I'll never know

      And I think to myself what a wonderful world

      Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world.

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      9 years ago from Texas

      @Truckstop Sally...I just never moved into the age of AC-DC lyrically! I probably should have thrown in "The Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald" but that would have made the funeral too long! LOL! WB

    • Truckstop Sally profile image

      Truckstop Sally 

      9 years ago

      You're the only writer I know that can make a hub about his own funeral both interesting and funny!

      I have a friend in the funeral business (in a small town), and he says it is amazing how many requests there are for AC DC's Hells Bells.

      I'm a rolling thunder, poutin rain

      I'm comin' down like a hurricane

      My lightning's flashing across the sky

      You're only young but you're gonna die

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      There won't be a dry eye in the house - Rainy Night in Georgia and it'd be all over.

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      10 years ago from Texas

      @SR1...Ken, maybe we can still the bagpipe guy hang a round for the start but I do like The King on the way out! Thanks! WB

    • saddlerider1 profile image


      10 years ago

      Wayne you couldn't have chose a better line up. But there is one called the KING who I would include and after everyone else has sung. He would walk down the aisle singing this as my spirit departs to another dimension, and by the way not a dry eye in the parlor.

      You may recognize this tune:0)

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      10 years ago from Texas

      @lorlie6...I might be talkin' bout but not yet ready for it! WB

    • lorlie6 profile image

      Laurel Rogers 

      10 years ago from Grizzly Flats, Ca

      Okay, Wayne-you better get to dying soon, 'cause I want to be there to hear this extraordinary line-up. Especially John Prine-hey, if he's there, I'll try to meet him and just forget all about you, okay???

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      10 years ago from Texas

      @bayoulady...that is a funny one. "If you don't know me by now, you'll never, never know me at all". Never a truer word spoken! WB

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      10 years ago from Texas

      @50Cal....While they are waiting for you Dusty, you'll be out chasing skirt! WB

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      10 years ago from Texas

      @ralwus...Well, I tell ya what show up for the service and I'll just wave the death sentence on the Piper! It's the patriotic thing to do as you point out. I hope you and your family have a might fine 4th Charlie. God Bless! WB

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      And pray tell what is wrong with a great pipers band? Sam Houston would be horrified by your angst against it. He was Scottish ya know? I am having no wake, no funeral, no music. Have a good 4th July now.

    • 50 Caliber profile image

      50 Caliber 

      10 years ago from Arizona

      Wayne, a good choice for one to be dead with, but me? I'm leaving them all at the wake, I'm not showing up, they'll be wondering "where is the old fukk?" I'm pulling a Jimmy Hoffa! 50

    • bayoulady profile image


      10 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA

      I have my songs as well. M( Contemporary Christian)y favorites are probably not well known.

      My neice (who is a rather quirky individual that has a dry sense of humor) says that some people just don't get her. She says to have the song "If You Don't Know Me by Now".I chuckle everytime I think of it. Of course you would have to have been there when she sang a bit of the lyrics so comically!

    • Beata Stasak profile image

      Beata Stasak 

      10 years ago from Western Australia

      Thanks Wayne, very useful, I have my song for my departure already prepared from the time I was told about my illness, which is just have to be prepared for everything, but it should not stop you to enjoy your is hard to find the right balance though...I was looking for that balance writing my first poem...thank you for visiting me and leaving so beautiful comment (I left you a reply on my hub:)

      Thank you my dear new hubfriend and all the best with your successful hubbing..all the best from BEata

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      10 years ago from Texas

      @Austinstar...yes that might be fun to do. Next time someone tells you they have writer's block, suggest they write up their own funeral arrangements as a cure! LOL. Thanks for stopping by! WB

    • Austinstar profile image


      10 years ago from Somewhere near the heart of Texas

      Excellent choices, Wayne. I think we (hubbers) should all write our funeral plans here as a theme. Maybe they'll run one of those contests for us.

      Reminds me of the funny tombstone epitaphs like, "I told you I was sick!"

      I'm also amazed that you can be a rock and roll fan as well as a country fan. But any fan of Willie Nelson and Mick Jagger has got to be cool in my book!

      Somebody shoot the bagpipe players...

    • profile image


      10 years ago from United States

      Please don't fprget to remember me is a good one as well

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      10 years ago from Texas

      @Tom you want 'em all cryin'? Maybe she can add that one at the wake and I will let it be her idea! WB

    • Tom Whitworth profile image

      Tom Whitworth 

      10 years ago from Moundsville, WV


      You better hope your wife isn't reading your hubs. You didn't pick George Jones, "He Stoped Loving Her Today".


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