The end of the year seems like a good time to talk about The End — you know, the Grim Reaper. The final mile. Crossing the river Styx.
Apparently, in some hospitals, soothing instrumental music is piped over the loudspeaker as the curtain falls. That means you or I could be lying on a bed at the end, helpless, as a string quartet plays a John Denver tune. Yecch.
So several weeks ago, faithful readers will recall, we discussed walk-off music preferences. Not the tunes we want friends and family to hear at our final services, but the actual melodies we want playing as we slip into the Great Beyond.
I asked for your recommendations for a final song, and lots of people wrote in.
There were the obvious choices. Diann liked “Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum. Mike offered “Oh Happy Day” by the Edwin Hawkins Singers. Mark suggested Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.”
Country music fans offered recordings I’ve never heard.
Robert thought “Someday My Day Will Come” by George Jones would soothe his path into the night and provide a needed boost of optimism too. Tim wants to hear Marty Robbins’ “Don’t Worry,” which also seems pretty optimistic for someone in the final checkout line.
Jeanne liked “I’ll Fly Away” on the “O Brother, Where Art Thou” soundtrack (that record is a veritable textbook of good goodbye music: Ralph Stanley’s “Angel Band” almost defines the genre).
Fans of classical music want their smartphones Bluetoothed to “Finlandia” by Jean Sibelius (thanks, Suzanne) or René Pape singing parts from “Don Giovanni” (Virginia loves opera). Bob prefers “Bolero” — or 45 minutes of anything from Abba, which hints at Bob’s rather catholic approach to music.
Some obscurities popped up. Local chanteuse Kelley Hunt sings “It Ain’t Over When It’s Over,” which LaDonna likes. Mark suggests we do a Web search for “What a Day” by Phil Keaggy.
Easy listening? Sure: Tony wants “Thanks for the Memories” by Bob Hope. “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong is RK’s choice. Steve likes showtunes, including “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from “Carousel” or “Somewhere” from “West Side Story.” Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life” may echo in Deane’s ears as the stage lights dim.
And there are plenty of rockers out there. In no particular order: “Keep Me In Your Heart” or “Don’t Let Us Get Sick” by Warren Zevon; “Into the Mystic,” Van Morrison; “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” the Rolling Stones; “Fields of Gold,” Sting; “Ride My See-Saw,” the Moody Blues; “You Shook Me All Night Long,” AC/DC ; and “Death or Glory,” the Clash (thanks Mike, Kathy, Mike, Leslie, Curt, Kenny, David and Jeff.)
And thanks to Steve, who offered “Come Sail Away” — by Styx. Also a tip of the cap to Janet, who says her husband will ask for Ray Charles’ “Hit the Road Jack.” Inspired options.
Finally, a shout-out to Brian, a musician who says he’s planned his funeral music and would be happy to hear any of a dozen songs on final approach. From his list, I’ll offer “Home on the Range,” played by the University of Kansas band.
Music has made a difference in my life more than once. Perhaps it’s worked the same miracle for you.
My choice? “Nothing Takes The Place Of You,” by Toussaint McCall. It isn’t only a good walk-off song. It’s an appropriate salute to our readers — as 2015 enters the books.