Set the Scene: Amazing Grace
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.
"Start Me Up"
- YouTube - Rolling Stones-start me up
If you start me up If you start me up I'll never stop If you start me up If you start me up I'll never stop I've been running hot You got me ticking gonna bl...
“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.
"Hello in There"
“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.
"LONG COOL WOMAN (In A Black Dress)
“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.
"Let Him Roll"
As written by Guy Clark and performed by Johnny Cash
“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.
"Pancho and Lefty"
“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.
"Understand Your Man"
- Johnny Cash - Understand your Man - YouTube
subscribe if you like johnny cash
“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!
"DESPERADOS (Waitin' For A Train)
As performed by "The Highway Men"
“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.
"Against 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.”
"Rainy Night in Georgia"
“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.”
Star Spangled Banner
As performed by The Isaacs.
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