Funeral Music Playlist

February 8, 2013

Maybe I’m weird but I worry about what music is going to be played at my funeral. I don’t want some really boring organ music playing in the background while I am being eulogized. This playlist is not my personal funeral playlist but it may give you something to think about when planning for the inevitable.

album

Atmosphere/ Joy Division

“Atmosphere” is another one of those prime Joy Division songs, like “Transmission” or “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” where Martin Hannett’s production becomes so essential to the end result that it couldn’t have been heard otherwise. Bernard Sumner’s low keyboard start and Peter Hook’s minimal, calm bass make a perfect counterpoint to the sheer, sudden power of Stephen Morris’s sudden drum parts — if anything, percussion is the heart of the song, the echo and near-tribal roll of the beats suggesting a futuristic ritual. Ian Curtis’s performance is another one of his best — one of his most controlled and calm, his deep moan suggesting both a will to continue and a sheer mournfulness. The killer touch, without question, has to be the sudden, shimmering keyboard sparkle Sumner adds after each verse, produced to sound like rays of light from the heavens, a beautiful contrast of light against the heavy rhythmic doom down below. It’s little surprise John Peel chose this song as the one to play on the air after announcing Curtis’s death — there’s a feeling of a requiem here, an awesome musical farewell.-allmusic.com

album

In my room/ Beach Boys

This sensitive pop gem was one of the first Beach Boys tracks to completely break out of the surf-and-drag mold. Indeed, the lyrics for “In My Room” tackle a subject that any teenager can relate to: the feelings of safety and comfort that can be found while relaxing in the sanctuary of one’s bedroom. The melody that supports these thoughts has a lullaby quality to it, building its verse on ascending note patterns that rise higher with each stanza before the melody resolves itself with the comforting descending notes of the chorus. The Beach Boys recording brings this sense of musical ebb and flow to life in a vivid fashion thanks to an inventive Brian Wilson vocal arrangement that starts with a solo vocal at the beginning of each verse and adds on voices with each line to create a grand harmony by the time each chorus arrives. The instrumental portion of the recording achieves a similarly hypnotic effect via a backing track that layers its circular guitar riffs with the gentle strum of a harp and a steady drum beat that anchors the song. -allmusic.com

album

Into my arms/ Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

“Into My Arms” is one of Nick Cave’s signature-style dark piano ballads, a love theme at the core of the lyrics, cloaked in spiritual and religious language and imagery. Accompanied only by himself on piano and Martyn P. Casey on bass, Cave plays a simple piano melody that stays rolling, barely shifting throughout except to build toward the refrain, “Into my arms, O Lord.” Questioning his own belief in God and the angels while respecting the object of his desire’s affection for them, the singer makes the sort of plaintive plea to the gods he doesn’t believe in that differences aside, love may conquer all and keep the pair together. Capturing in voice, melody, and lyric the doubts, faith, fears, and hopes that love can inspire among the faithless, he returns to the idea that truth, strength, and love are values worth striving for. This is Cave’s strength in song.-allmusic.com

album

Soul meets body/ Death Cab for Cutie

For your consideration: a wildly successful indie rock band with a legion of followers on an equally successful, highly credible independent label makes the jump to major-label powerhouse Atlantic, leading to much chagrin and speculation among its fans as they awaited with bated breath for what would happen to the group. The album winds its way from one ballad to the next, with brief stopovers at moderately up-tempo numbers to help break things up a bit. And it’s this sense of resignation that either makes or breaks the album, depending on which Death Cab for Cutie is your favorite: the melancholic, hopeless romantic or the one who wears its heart on its sleeve with unbridled energy and passion.-allmusic.com

album

So Long Goodbye/ Sum 41

Sporting a similar-sounding but not as politically potent title in Underclass Hero, Sum 41’s fifth studio album extends upon its predecessor Chuck’s deliberate attempt at getting serious and relevant, containing just enough garbled commentary and political platitudes to not only give the impression that the bandmembers are saying something beyond their beloved clichés, but to give the impression that they’re telling a story, creating an anthem for the “underclass hero,” the slacker who can’t be labeled as an underachiever because he never attempts to achieve. – allmusic.com

album

At My Funeral/ Crash Test Dummies

Like an improbable kiddie cereal made with bran, this Canadian group gives you sprightly Irish jigs and earthy-crunchy folk music, all rolled into one addictively sweet confection—and it’s even good for you. Led by vocalist Brad Roberts’s laconic growl, this Dummies debut hops easily from the upbeat to the somber. The lyrics often sound as if they were written by the same people who see Elvis at fast-food joints. The ballad “Superman’s Songs,” for instance, is a wonderfully goofball discussion of why Superman makes a better superhero than Tarzan. While the Dummies’ mix of the silly and the sentimental, both musically and lyrically, may not suit everybody’s taste, The Ghosts That Haunt Me is one record that never gets soggy. (Arista)

album

Hallelujah/ Leonard Cohen

Despite the over-saturation of “Hallelujah,” the song’s recent chart-topping success on both sides of the ocean has given Cohen some sweet revenge. “There were certain ironic and amusing sidebars, because the record that it came from which was called Various Positions — a record Sony wouldn’t put out,” Cohen told the Guardian. “They didn’t think it was good enough… So there was a mild sense of revenge that arose in my heart.” Cohen can’t complain about the extra royalties either, especially considering he was forced to tour after a lengthy hiatus because his former manager made off with most of his assets. Meanwhile, we’re still surprised that Leonard Cohen is sitting around reading reviews of the superhero flick Watchmen.- rollingstone.com

album

Time to Say Goodbye/ Andrea Bocelli

Sarah Brightman, who enjoyed a European hit with “Time to Say Goodbye,” her duet with Andrea Bocelli,  constructed an album beginning with that recording and continuing in kind. The characteristics of the hit — a lush, melodramatic, mock-operatic arrangement complete with a crescendo out of Ravel’s “Bolero” and soaring voices singing in English and Italian — are repeated here, whether the material is drawn from Puccini, the Gipsy Kings, or Queen. Part of PBS’ long-running Great Performances program, Concerto: One Night in Central Park features legendary Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli’s 2011 free concert on Central Park’s Great Lawn. With Bocelli backed by the New York Philharmonic  conducted by longtime musical director Alan Gilbert, the 17-track collection is also being made available in a deluxe edition that includes a DVD of the evening.-allmusic.com

album

All Things Must Pass/ George Harrison

“All Things Must Pass” was the title song of George Harrison’s 1970 number one debut album. Like several of the songs on that record, it has a slow, almost dirge-like air, though it is executed with a stateliness that avoids lugubriousness. And, like several songs on that record, it was actually written before the Beatles had broken up. A tentative, perhaps even feeble, pass through the song was attempted by the Beatles during their troubled Let It Be sessions in early 1969; one of those takes was issued on Anthology 3. Part of the problem the Beatles had in getting to grips with the song, perhaps, was that Harrison (and the other Beatles) were beginning to write compositions that were more well-suited for them as solo vehicles than as Beatles arrangements. When it was recorded for his solo album, the song benefited from Phil Spector’s orchestral productions, with subtle interjections of brass interacting with Harrison’s high slide guitar. “All Things Must Pass” has a pleasant, though not stunning, melody and a an air of calm resignation, as well as the kind of hymnal chorus that was found in numerous Harrison works of the period. The lyrics might be a reflection of Harrison’s Indian religious beliefs, but actually there is no specific mention or allusion to Indian religion. It is a simple but direct statement on the impermanence of both good and bad times, and, in fact, in tone is not far removed from the messages of faith and reassurance found in the Beatles’ “Let It Be.” “All Things Must Pass” is more passive and resigned than “Let It Be,” however. It’s the kind of song that fits the mood in November, when the trees are getting stripped bare of their leaves, the days are getting shorter and colder, and you have to resign yourself to knowing it’s going to be tougher and tougher in those regards for months, also knowing that those hardships will pass away come springtime.-allmusic.com

album

True Faith/ New Order

A tremendous single for New Order – a brilliant standalone effort and the triumphant conclusion of the peerless singles collection Substance – “True Faith” deservedly hit the charts in America, the UK and elsewhere, a marvelous valediction for a band with a core that had stuck to its guns for ten straight years. “True Faith” resisted being conventional for all that it was poppy, catchy, a radio-friendly song with its own unexpected edge. Bernard Sumner’s lyric hints at a strange desperation at play, sung with an unsure, nervous emotion (“I guess there’s just no way of knowing…I used to think that the day would never come/That my life would depend on the morning sun”). It’s the dramatic electronic drum start (memorably if cryptically matched in the heavily-screen video by mimes), Peter Hook’s strong bass line over deeper synth bass, Gillian Gilbert’s strong but not bombastic orchestral swells and keyboard chimes and more that really make everything connect, each verse building into the strong chorus with a sense of sudden anticipation.-allmusic.com


WBER DJ David’s Goth Playlist

June 4, 2012

“There’s a lot of misconception over what Goth music is.  This is due in large part because there is also a Goth sub-culture, and many people that are part of it don’t necessarily listen to Goth music, but perhaps a related genre like EBM, Industrial, Future-pop, or Metal.  Goth tends to be slower, has it’s roots in the post punk scene of the late 1970s, and often times has dealing with depression as a central theme.”- DJ David

Prayers for Rain/ The Cure

Arguably the most extreme song on an extreme album, “Prayers for Rain” more than anything is the heart of Disintegration, an evocative, wounding portrayal of emotional desolation as gripping as any the Cure ever created. Indeed, in some ways it’s the flip side of “The Drowning Man” from Faith or the song that immediately follows “Prayers for Rain,” “The Same Deep Water as You.” There, where the overriding metaphors were being crushed in watery depths, here the absence of water becomes the chief image.- All Music Guide

Too Much 21st Century/ Bauhaus

It’s perhaps appropriate that Bauhaus’ first new studio album in 25 years is also, apparently and finally, the last. After following their 1998 reunion tour with a second in 2005 and after that eventually led to the band debuting a full range of new songs on the road, the signs for a possible new future seemed strong, but in a weird echo of the past the quartet once again disbanded before an album release. However, perhaps the best and most surprising thing about Go Away White is that it doesn’t resemble any other Bauhaus album — rather than trying to recapture the past, the four members sought to meet in the middle where they had ended up, at least in part.- All Music Guide

Love Will Tear Us Apart/ Joy Division

A chilling tale of love set adrift with an equally cool, precise accompaniment, “Love Will Tear Us Apart” was the last single recorded by Joy Division, mere months before doomed front man Ian Curtis committed suicide in May 1980. It’s presumed — perhaps rather hastily — that the lyrics are autobiographical, an insight into Curtis’ fragmenting marriage and his growing relationship with a Belgian girl who followed the band. Whatever the nature of the material, “Love Will Tear Us Apart” functions as an insight into what made Joy Division the most unique band during the era of punk aggression and extremism. -All Music Guide

Tear You Apart/ She Wants Revenge

Los Angeles Joy Division -obsessed duo She Wants Revenge blend electronic beats with goth pop misery on their self-titled Geffen debut. DJs Justin Warfield andAdam “Adam 12” Bravin may have crafted the post-punk equivalent of XTC alter-egos Dukes of Stratosphear’s psychedelic rock tribute Chips from the Chocolate Fireball, but there is suspicion as to whether or not it was intentional.-All Music Guide

Temple of Love/ The Sisters of Mercy

One of England’s leading goth bands of the 1980s, the Sisters of Mercyplay a slow, gloomy, ponderous hybrid of metal and psychedelia, often incorporating dance beats; the one constant in the band’s career has been deep-voiced singer Andrew Eldritch. -All Music Guide

Rats/ Rasputina

Rasputina’s supernatural approach in making music is impressive, because it’s independent of the goth rock that came before the band and especially alone in the current mainstream. It’s practically primitive, but positively so. Cabin Fever, Rasputina’s third studio album, casts a dark dream-scape of lush string arrangements and grating cellos, and Melora Craeger’s sinister scowl is at its best.-All Music Guide

Metal/Gary Numan

The most popular of all the Gary Numanalbums is undeniably 1979’s The Pleasure Principle. The reasons are simple — there is not a single weak moment on the disc, it contains his sole U.S. (number one worldwide) hit, “Cars,” and new drummer Cedric Sharpley adds a whole new dimension with his powerful percussion work. The Pleasure Principle is also one of the first Gary Numan albums to feature true ensemble playing, especially heard within the airtight, killer groove of “Metal” (one of Numan’s all-time best tracks). – All Music Guide

Cuts you Up/ Peter Murphy

“Cuts You Up” ranks as both an unexpected American pop hit – doubtless few people who saw Murphy delivering personal exorcisms ten years earlier with Bauhaus’s “Stigmata Martyr” could have guessed this might happen – and a perfectly logical radio-friendly winner. The brighter, less storm-cloud-ridden visions of Murphy solo had already been clear to those following his career, and “Cuts You Up” manages the fine trick of translating that new spirit into a truly accessible way without once sounding pandering. Benefiting from a crisp, straightforward slice of shimmering eighties pop-rock arranging, topped off with Paul Statham’s simple but lovely synth-violin part, “Cuts You Up” starts off strong and doesn’t stop, Simon Rogers’ production being especially lovely on the sparkling, whooshing chorus.-All Music Guide

Spellbound/Siouxsie And The Banshees

The charging, acoustic guitar-led “Spellbound” was a pivotal single in Siouxsie and the Banshees’ career. After early, clangorous singles like “Hong Kong Garden” and “Metal Postcard,” personnel instability and a changing musical climate made Siouxsie and the Banshees seem kind of tired and beside the point. However, “Spellbound” leads off 1981’s revitalized Juju with a new, cleaner sounding and much more direct ? even poppy! ? melodic bent.  Kinetic, memorable and exciting, “Spellbound” gives notice that Siouxsie and the Banshees had outgrown their dreary post-punk past.-All Music Guide

Ghosts 28/ Nine Inch Nails

Roughly a year after Year Zero  — a year marked by lots of sniping with his record company first about their clueless promotion then devolving into a tirade about their general uselessness — Trent Reznor broke free of Interscope/Universal and became a free agent, releasing music where and when he wanted. To celebrate his freedom he released the four-part Ghosts, a clearinghouse of 36 instrumentals all created during the years he crafted Year Zero. It should come as no great surprise that Ghosts then plays like a sketchbook, a place whereReznor jotted down sounds and textures that flitted across his mind and then either took them no further, or decided to spin them into something entirely new for the full album.-All Music Guide

The Host Of Seraphim/ Dead Can Dance

Dead Can Dance combine elements of European folk music — particularly music from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance — with ambient pop and worldbeat flourishes. Their songs are of lost beauty, regret and sorrow, inspiration and nobility, and of the everlasting human goal of attaining a meaningful existence.-All Music Guide