Not that I’m expecting it or anything, but neither was Gary Burgess and he’s way younger than me.
I’ve not been to too many funerals in recent times but it seems that, generally speaking, you (or your family) can have a say in how the ceremony goes. And I believe the general idea these days is that funeral clothes and black ties are no longer à la mode.
My Mum is having a good go, like Eleanor of Aquitaine, in outliving her children. In which case I’ll be upsetting her by rejecting a Catholic funeral and going Humanist. These affairs, I understand, don’t include religious content, including traditional hymns. But, for starters, let’s have a look at the most popular, traditional hymns taken from a random website.
1. Amazing Grace
2. Going Home
3. Abide With Me
4. How Great Thou Art
5. All Things Bright and Beautiful
6. The Old Rugged Cross
7. Morning Has Broken
8. Great is Thy Faithfulness
9. What a Friend We Have in Jesus
10. Be Thou My Vision
Umm, no, though presumably I’ll not be that bothered on the day.
So what are my picks? I’ve always had two in mind but today I added a third possible. The two are
1. Rest In Peace, (Mott the Hoople). Written in 1974, it was already a retrospective. It has stood the test of time and, as the original members of the band have started to pass on it has gained in poignancy.
2. Meet on the Ledge, (Fairport Convention). It wasn’t written as a song about death, but it can be beautifully imagined as such.
And the third, the one I decided on earlier. Another Mott the Hoople number performed here by leader Ian Hunter, now 81. Saturday Gigs is an old Mott fans’ favourite and is rich with nostalgia.
Which might leave me with two more picks, not sure how many are allowed. I might go back to my teen years for the first. Clear White Light by Lindisfarne, the folk/rock band which has achieved sainthood in the north-east of England. This was one of their signature songs.
Finally, one I doubt would get the nod even from the most liberal of celebrants and tolerant of family and friends. Black Sabbath were a shock metal band from Birmingham, playing the pubs and clubs when I was in my final years at school. Ozzie and mates have apparently played their last after a mega career, but Sleeping Village (and its iconic cover, below) remains one of their best songs. (On re-listening, maybe best played quietly in the background as the few mourners arrive.)
So, have you thought about your selection?