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30 songs in (almost) 30 days: day 24

June 21, 2011

day 24 – a song that you want to play at your funeral: R.E.M.: “It’s the End of the World as You Know It (and I Feel Fine)”

That would be the funeral that will happen when I have a heart attack from all the craziness going on around here.

I’ve run through a bunch of different answers to this one and even wrote one post, which is now migrating to another question. But after the last few days, the answer is R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World as we Know it (and I Feel Fine)”:

[And may I just mention that despite the fact that someone wants to pay me to be an editor, I still have no idea what to do with the colon in a situation like the above?]

I have thoughtfully included a version of the video with the lyrics printed out because they are very hard to follow. I know this, because I spent a good chunk of my Sunday trying to memorize them. You see, R.E.M. is Mr. Spy’s favorite band. And it’s one of mine too. We’ve both been listening since the mid-80s, which I’m pretty sure makes us some kind of dinosaurs. We own almost every album.

Mr. Spy likes all the music in the house, even though he doesn’t (yet) play an instrument himself. So I had this idea that for Father’s Day AJ and I would play him a song together. R.E.M. was the natural choice, but most of their songs use a lot of chords that AJ can’t yet play (and some of them are kind of dicey for me as well.

The vast majority of “The End of the World” oscillates between just two chords: C and G, which both happen to be in AJ’s limited repertoire, although he will complain about the difficulty of stretching for G. The chorus adds a D chord – AJ’s favorite because the fingers are close together. Other than that, there are just three more chords in the lead in to the chorus – B-flat and F, both bar chords that AJ can’t yet play, and A-minor, which he can. We worked it out so he would skip the bar chords, but he got frustrated with the speed of the song after a while and decided he’d rather sit out and listen.

Mr. Spy, on the other hand, our intended audience, decided he wanted to join in. He grabbed a coffee can full of beans and a couple of wooden spoons from the kitchen and took the snare part. Also, he knew almost all the words before we started, so he was very helpful, although we did have to research a couple of lines where we couldn’t agree on what they were actually singing.

Lucky for all of you, there is no audible evidence of this first attempt at a Spy Family band. Lucky for us too, come to think of it. But a good time was had by all. Except maybe our neighbors.

Why a funeral song? Well, it’s about the end of the world. And it’s upbeat. I didn’t want something weepy. I’d rather go out with a bang than a whimper. As my friend G says, this song “has a good beat and you can dance to it.” Sometimes that’s all you need.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Harriet's Mom permalink
    June 21, 2011 11:00 pm

    No funeral! Better a lively celebration in an Irish pub, one with good music,preferably in the west country. If I were forced to choose a funeral piece, it might be Arvo Part’s , “Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten”, or, perhaps, Allegri’s “Miserere”(for the music, not the words).

    What interests me more is the last song I will actually be around to hear. I would like that to be Louis Armstrong singing “It’s a Wonderful World.” His voice is as warm and thick as summer sunshine and the words, though simple, perhaps even trite, speak to me of what really matters.

  2. June 22, 2011 12:30 am

    I love your musical family, and hope you will keep me posted as to future tour dates.

    I want the song “Untitled,” by Ron Sexsmith, played at my funeral. Which I hope — for both of us — is not until we are very old and the technology by which these songs will be played has yet to be invented. That was ungrammatical, but sincere.

  3. June 22, 2011 1:50 pm

    I’ve said for years (since 1980, in fact) that I hope whoever is left when I die will play Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” at my funeral.

  4. June 24, 2011 12:37 pm

    A New Orleans style funeral would be nice.

    That said, I love the Mozart Ave Verum Corpus.

  5. June 24, 2011 1:30 pm

    I love all of these ideas. I think we are all in agreement that sitting around moping and feeling sorry for ourselves is not the way to go. I love the “Wonderful World” idea, Mom. Violet, I very much hope so too. And I think ungrammatical is the most sincere way. I don’t know that song, though, and can’t seem to locate it. Can you tell me where I might find it? I always like your recommendations. Magpie, I think the New Orleans style funeral is definitely the way to go, but Mozart’s pretty nice too. I wonder how it would sound played by a jazz band?

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