Another Death Panel

image courtesy of

image courtesy of

Dying as some decent music plays.

Many a round table discussion was had with my friends, colleagues, classmates, and roommates when I was in college, topics running the gauntlet from gender issues to geo-political “isms,” drug use to art, collective hopes and dreams to pop culture analysis.  Opinions varied.  Tempers sometimes flared and cooled.  And all the while through a lovely and gentle haze of suds and smoke, ideas flourished.

The question posited one evening was what song you would want played at your funeral.  This is a good one, as your answer is generally an attempt to wrap up your whole being into one piece of audio art, an entire life summarized in a three-minute pop song.  My freshman year roommate opted to give his reply first, the song “I’m Going Home” from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  Good answer.  It’s grandiose, dramatic, and you can just see it bringing the house down, moving family, friends, and mourners alike to streaming fountains of tears.  There was no way that anyone else would be able to top his selection.  I’m sure we all gave our different answers, but from that point, they were meaningless.  He won.  Discussion over.

Since then, I’ve often reconsidered the question.  What song would I want to be played at my funeral?  After much deliberation, I believe I have the answer.  And I know I’ve been beating the Brian Eno horse into the ground of late, but my funeral song, my dirge, comes from Eno’s Another Green World LP, the short and wistful instrumental track “The Big Ship.”  I think it’s perfect.  It’s woeful and melancholy, but also serene and forward moving.  It’s the sound of eyes closing, consciousness fading, the spirit or sentience leaving the body.  It’s the sound of the sun setting, the ship sailing, the band playing on.  It sounds like a good death.  Like celebration.  Fond remembrance, rather than despair.  And I guess, just as importantly, it’s a beautiful piece of music.

So there you have it.  No need for speeches or epitaphs.  Hold off on that video montage.  Just close your eyes and listen to “The Big Ship.”  That’s all you need to know.  Music always speaks better for me than words anyway.

Listen below…

What song would you choose?


Thomas H Williams

Thomas H Williams

From a bunker somewhere in Central Texas, Thomas H. Williams spends most of his time with his wife, his two sons, and his increasingly neurotic dog. He listens to a lot of music, drinks a lot of excellent beers, and gets out from time to time. For even more shenanigans, visit

One Response to Another Death Panel
  1. Shawn C. Baker Reply

    My good friend Mr. Brown wants “Yakkety Sax” – better known as the Benny Hill theme song – played at his wake. I’ve never been able to top that.

    Good choice on the Eno though.

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