Between this week’s memoir piece, my mother’s illness, and my ever-present awareness that I’m falling apart, death has been on my mind a lot lately. There’s nothing I hate more than going to a memorial service where there’s no hint of the deceased, just some stranger droning, “Although I didn’t know James, I understand that he was a very proud father.” At my grandmother’s service a few months ago the jabberhead got her birth date wrong, among other things. The poor bastard was getting heckled graveside.
Maybe one of these days I’ll feel narcissistic enough to write my own eulogy, but today I’ll settle for one of you making sure that some tasty cuts get played at the service rather than that Jeebus crap. No disrespect to the son of God, but his earthly minions record really shitty music.
So are you willing to help a dead brother out? Here’s my dying wish:
“I Can See Clearly Now,” Johnny Nash. This was one of my kindergarten favorites, and it seems like just the thing to cheer up all those weasels who are trying to look sad but really want to get their hands on my lunch box collection. No, you can’t have my Charlie’s Angels with original Thermos.
“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” Elton John. The first record I bought with my own money, and one of my very first Why It Matters stories. Besides, “Funeral for a Friend” is too obvious.
“Fractured Mirror,” Ace Frehley. We need some instrumentals so Ricky Brent can tell the grieving about the time I fed him a jalapeno and told him it was a pickle. Also, I have to honor my childhood KISS obsession, and this one isn’t a corny cock rocker.
“I’m So Tired,” the Beatles. Also, please get that title engraved on my headstone, would ya? Thanks.
“Aerial Boundaries,” Michael Hedges. I love few musicians’ output as completely as the handful of albums Michael Hedges released. Also, this one gives a nod to to my childhood airplane love.
“I See a Darkness,” Johnny Cash. What the hell is wrong with these people? I just saw my cousin in the back row check his watch. Hey, buddy, have a little respect. Okay, fuck these people. Time to turn the weepers up to 11.
“Patience,” Guns N’ Roses. The Gunners figure too heavily into ground not yet covered in Why It Matters to leave them out of Plant James Day. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” would be the more appropriate pick, but it doesn’t really have that funeral vibe.
“A Small Plot of Land,” David Bowie. This has been on my funeral wish list since Outside was released in 1995, and all due to a misheard lyric. Outside is a concept album about an “art crime” (don’t ask), and this cut includes the lines Poor dunce / He pushed back the pigmen. What I heard, though, was “he pushed at the pigment,” and I thought that would sum up my life of creative failure quite nicely.
“We’ll Meet Again,” Vera Lynn. Get off your butts, mourners. Everybody sings along during the chorus.
Well, that’s it. Don’t forget to sign the register on the way out: I’ll have someone taking attendance. And when you get home toast me with a cocktail. Make it a White Russian.