Under The Influence
Compared to the noble gesture of leaving things behind for your loved ones in a will, leaving a song list to be played at the shradh or wake after you die can seem rather self-centered, especially since you won’t even be around to enjoy the music. But hey, we’re not all perfect. So might as well make a good song list out of a bad situation.
Now, a death song list isn’t the same as a favorite song list. I love Dylan’s “Positively 4th Street.” But I wouldn’t want guests to hear me ride on Dylan’s “You gotta lotta nerve/ To say you are my friend”. The basic rule about death songs is that they should be tracks you would want yourself to be remembered by.
So here are my top 10 death songs I’ve told my wife to play when the shradh guests settle down with some chips and dip.
1. “Gimme Shelter”: Undoubtedly, my favorite song. But with its perfect mix of apocalyptic menace and haunting beauty, the Stones classic from their 1969 album Let It Bleed, “Gimme Shelter” will remind people of my Lucifer Lite status.
2. “Strawberry Fields Forever”: Another favorite, but in Lennon’s poetic calmness in delivering the line ”˜Nothing is real/Nothing to get hung about’, this Beatles song will easily tell folks that I’m not too cut up about not existing any more.
3. “Heart of Glass”: What’s a dead guy worth if he doesn’t love a Blondie song? In the sunshine of this delightfully Studio 54 dark disco track, I will be remembered as someone who was fun and fragile (and in love with Debbie Harry).
4. “My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)”: Neil Young delivers the sermon that I totally agree with: “It’s better to burn out/Than to fade away”. Even if I didn’t quite cop it at 27.
5. “Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World”: The Ramones are the grown up man’s reminder that it’s okay to pretend to be a boy. So this 2 minutes 6 seconds punk rock song is a reminder that I harbored thoughts of (incomplete) world domination.
6. “Scorpio Rising”: This fabulous 2002 Death in Vegas song is shimmering and dark and hints at a noble madness. Nice traits to tell family and friends their dead boy had without them being able to confirm.
7. “Burning Love”: Primal late Elvis. While it is a sexual track that should make my widow smile, elders at the shradh should also be happy that the old boy did, after all, enjoy, ”˜our Elvis’.
8. “Sabotage”: A little Beastie Boys dispels the shradh blues. So this gem of a track should, while hinting that my death was not purely a natural one, inject dollops of hardcore fun into a party that may get gloomy midway.
9. “Breathless”: My no-holds-barred homage to the world I’ve left behind. Nick Cave at his pantheistic best, where nature and the world are indistinguishable from the love object. Older religious aunties at the shradh will also approve.
10. “I am the Resurrection”: A bit of a shameless attempt to come across as a divinity (or the son of divinity). But this epic Stone Roses track should give hope to people who want me back from the dead.
And who knows? If someone at the shradh decides to put on any Eagles or Lady Antebellum song, I may return from the dead to break up the party.