A friend of mine died a few years back and I was sad to see him go for a lot of reasons. One was his infectious love of music. My friend had nearly as many CDs and vinyl as Tower Records and his collection spanned a wide range – both in years and genre. His first love was 60’s and 70’s rock. He knew who wrote all the songs of those decades, who recorded them originally and who covered them later. Although he enjoyed just about any music, as long as it wasn’t disco, rap or gospel. He had a T-shirt that featured a skull and crossbones, with the caption: Death to Disco. On his preference against gospel I should say that he was as moral as us humans get, but he just wasn’t into organized religion and didn’t have a single hymn in his vast collection.
So imagine my surprise when the funeral home played hymns at his memorial service, including Amazing Grace. I knew he really didn’t like that song. If there was such a thing as the walking dead my friend would have risen up to hammer the speakers into very small splinters. I suspect the funeral home, in the absence of any other instructions, had just put on its default playlist.
That experience got me thinking: who really knows what your favorite songs are? Why not make a list of your ten favorites before you die? Stick the songs on a flash drive or a CD, then tape it to your last will and testament. If your friends play it at your memorial service, the music will help them remember the real you. Shouldn’t a memorial service be a celebration of that person’s life? Sadness over the loss in our lives, but joyfulness in our memories, right? And to generate joy at a memorial service, you need the right soundtrack. You need the songs that will trigger the great memories and get people saying, “Oh man, that song reminds me of the time we . . .”
The idea of assembling your favorite ten songs on a flash drive for your memorial ended up in the third Road King Chronicles book. The character who made it up called it his Last Tango Ten.
I want to be cremated, but it would be nice if my friends and family threw a send-off party for me while I’m comfortably ensconced in my golden urn with the diamonds on top. Put on my Last Tango Ten, turn up the volume and make it a wake to wake the dead. Here’s my list (although I reserve the right to make changes up to the last possible minute):
Chain of Fools (Aretha Franklin version)
Still Got the Blues (Gary Moore)
Duke of Earl (Gene Chandler original version)
Johnny B Goode (Johnny Winter version of the Chuck Berry classic)
Drive to Survive (Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers)
Red House (Jimi Hendrix, from Are You Experienced?)
Route 66 (Rolling Stones version of Bobby Troup song)
The House is Rockin’ (Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble)
I Put a Spell on You (Jeff Beck/Josh Stone version of the Screaming’ Jay Hawkins song)
La Grange (ZZ Top)
Yeah, I know. Looks a bit like RK’s Last Tango Ten. Of course Roman Keane is entirely fictional, but it seems I do share some of his taste in music.
Going to make up your own Last Tango Ten? How about sharing it with us?