Travelin’ Down That Lonesome Highway: My Funeral

The day before we left for our last cross-country trip to Tucson Nancy and I signed our Living Wills, Powers of Attorney and Wills.  Somewhere out in West Texas my IPod juke boxed (how about that for a new action verb) to “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones.  This song and I guess yesterday’s will signing got me to thinking about the opening funeral scene in the movie, The Big Chill.  Next thing I know I am thinking about what type of production I want for my funeral.

I want my funeral at home.  Don’t know about the living but it is my funeral I want to feel comfortable and therefore let’s do it at the house.  Also you can drink and for those still pushing the life envelope they can smoke at our house and churches typically frown on these behaviors.

As the partiers – no mourners allowed at my funeral -- arrive I want the Prelude to be “Sympathy for the Devil” by The Rolling Stones.  I am covering the negative bases with this song.  Don’t know if there is a hell or a heaven and if there are I sure don’t know where I will end up.

"Sympathy for the Devil" by The Rolling Stones
After everyone has poured a drink it’s time for me to show up.  The Processional music will be two alternating songs.  The first is “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen and the second is “I’ll Sleep When I am Dead” by Bon Jovi.

I truly tried to live a large portion of my life under the philosophy that “I’ll sleep when I am dead”.  No regrets, dark circles under my eyes, and lots of memories.

I will go out of this world in an open coffin.  Just prop the coffin up against the wall, open it, tie me into it, bend my right arm to a 90 degree position so anyone who wants may shake my hand or better yet put a drink in it, and Nancy is to make sure the undertaker has put a grin on my face.

When I am appropriately propped up yet looking regal in a dead sort of way I believe it will be time for the living to reflect on how great a guy I am/was.  (It is difficult to get my verb tenses correct when I am alive but writing in the future as a dead person.)  I am not requesting this reflection time because you all are drinking our liquor but because I am no longer in the here and now with you.  To help you reflect on me during this moment of silence “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” by George Thorogood and the Destroyers will play as background music.

We are closer to Tucson since my last thoughts because I have been in deep deliberation over how I should be dressed.  I see three options: (1) 501 straight leg Levis and a polo t-shirt, (2) shorts and a polo t-shirt or (3) my tux.  Option one is what I have been wearing since I was ten years old and why change now.  Option two is I am a sometime desert rat and not knowing where I might end up this clothing option may combat the heat.  Option three is any guy looks great in a tux!  It’s difficult for the dead to look good so I am going with the tux so please dress appropriately for my funeral.

After a proper amount of time to reflect on me I would like Nancy to Welcome everyone.  Just a few words about how glad she and I are that you all could stop by.  Oh yes, background music is “Foxy Lady” by Jimi Hendrix.


From here on my funeral may stray a little bit from the typical memorial service.  Because I do not know any men of God and only one women of God – I am talking ministers, rabbis, priest, health heelers, or any other religious gurus — and more importantly this is a Party not a religious service you all will probably have to forego hearing the Doxology.  I think “The Long and Winding Road” by The Beatles will do as an acceptable substitution.


Due to the nature of my memorial service we will also skip the Invocation but instead everyone gets to hear Diana Ross and the Supremes sing “Someday We Will Be Together”.  A day without Motown is like a day without sunshine.  Moreover, Diana and I were meant to be together on this earth but for some reason we never crossed paths.


Time for a hymn or at least another song.  I think it is time to kick this service into gear.  Soooo, how about “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” by Guns and Roses.  Great song, appropriate for the occasion and not to mention the Guns and Roses concert at the Oakland ballpark was the best concert I have ever attended.  Better than The Rolling Stones or Diana Ross or any number of other groups.



At this time the typical service provides time for Friends and Family to Remember.  Hey, if your partying at our place it is time to get into the swing of things.  Tap your glass with something or just yell out, “my turn” and say a couple of good words about me.  I have selected “Highway to Hell” by AC/DC as the background music.



After everyone has had a chance to roast me it is time for another hymn.  (Another free drink for anyone who can work in a pun when saying good things about me.)  I am going with “Don’t Fear the Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult.



Since there will be no Scripture or Sermon lets fill the dead time (I believe that pun deserves a round of applause from everyone reading.) with Green Day’s “Good Riddance”.


Normally at this time in a funeral service there is a solo performance.   Since my funeral service has yet to follow the norm, why start now.   I am hoping the duo of Will and Grant will entertain everyone with an original piece.  Don’t know how they can do better than the song they put together for their mother’s and my wedding but here’s hoping.

I imagine The Byrds’ “Turn, Turn, Turn” will have to cover the Prayer of Thanksgiving, The Lords Prayer, Commendation and Benediction.


To replace the Recessional hymn I want to listen to “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley.  To me listening to this song is a religious experience in itself, not to mention it's based on a biblical story.  Buckley's voice is soft and full of pain.  His guitar provides a minimalist style instrumental background.  All in all a very powerful song.  Once you hear it you will never forget it.



To end my service and to get happy in my imagination there is nothing in life or death like hearing “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin.


When the last note of “Stairway” has faded to nothing my funeral service is over -- Now its time to party!  All music till no one is left standing will be a Rolling Stones retrospect.  You all better have fun because I know I will.

When Nancy has time or gets tired of looking at me in my pine box she is going to convert the box and me into ashes.  As I move toward the fire I want “When the Saints Go Marching In” by Louie Armstrong playing loud enough to shake the walls.  Again, covering bases just in case my destination is heaven.

Damn it just hit me as I was scrolling through my jazz collection, a new and better way to leave the here and now.  Let’s have a jazz march from the house to the incinerator!  Everyone can charge up his or her wheel chair batteries at our place, grab another drink, and follow the coffin.  Oh this is getting better by the moment – I will go out in a horse-drawn carriage!

In front of my carriage will be a New Orleans style brass jazz band.  I can hear the music: “Amazing Grace”, “Just a Closer Walk with Thee”, “West Lawn Dirge”, “Down By the Riverside”, “In the Sweet Bye and Bye”, “Jesus on the Mainline”, and “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”.

May have to import a professional mourner from New Orleans to lead the procession but heck it is only money and I can’t take it with me.

After my time in the incinerator you all can head back to the house.  Again, think of the music that can be played on the return trip.  Music like “Didn’t He Ramble” and “When the Saints Go Marching In”.  I wonder what it would cost to have the Young Men Olympian Junior Benevolent Association, in traditional black suits and white gloves, lead everyone back to the house?

We definitely covered a few miles of West Texas I-10 while I was thinking where I wanted my last resting place to be.  I been fortunate to see a lot of beautiful places in this world but I decided I want to make my final resting place the same as my starting point – the desert of Tucson.

Now don’t go getting excited about my funeral party and start planning what you are going to wear because as I told Nancy when we first met, “I am going to fight death every step of the way”.  I will be here for a long time to come.

Note: I own all the above music except for the Queen song.  Shouldn’t be hard to put together this play list before I pass through the pearly gates.  I have always been an optimist.

Update:  So far I have transferred 5,713 songs, which would take 49.6 days to listen to per I-Tunes and these songs take up 21.7 GB of space on my computer.  Have approximately 100 CD and 120 albums remaining to load to my computer.

My IPod has three Road Music play lists: (1) Motown, (2) Rock, and (3) Night Rock for when darkness surrounds you and it is time to crank the volume.

I am against Congress making any new laws but I do have one I believe would save lives.  No Jimi Hendrix allowed while driving.  Playing air guitar along with Jimi while driving at 80 miles per hours is much more dangerous than texting.

Cool thought:  By the time I leave this world hopefully the science of holograms will have been perfected so that my image can walk among all of you and talk to each of you during my funeral!

I own three CDs that I bought for a single song:

1)    “New York State of Mind” by Mark Almond on The Last and Live

This recording is so much more moody than Billy Joel’s.  If there was ever a time in your life when you were alone in a crowd you will relate to the music and lyrics of this song.

2)    “Night Moves” by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band on Night Moves

I probably remember my teenage years as being better than they were.

3)    “Still Got the Blues” by Gary Moore on Still Got the Blues

I am not a big fan of recorded blues.  However, at least 50% of the live music Nancy and I listen to has been the blues.  We have had some great nights in Blues’ bars in Chicago, New York, DC and anywhere Will is playing.  If you don’t have the blues before you listen to this recording you will after.

What music recordings did you buy for a single song?