Music is such an emotive component of a funeral service. It has the power to take us back to memories and times of the past.
With my own family, I have distinct recollections of sitting in the back of the station wagon, loaded to the roof, gear on the roof too (think Griswold style!!) as we headed down to Bendalong for summer holidays. Mum and Dad would be in the front of the car belting out the classics from the tape player. Dolly Parton’s ‘Coat of many colours’ was mum’s favourite, and they would sing Kenny Rogers and Dolly’s ‘Islands in the stream’ to each other in the front of the car. They are great memories of my parents for me.
When we sit with families to make funeral arrangements, these same stories are told of their family’s soundtrack of their lives. It might be the music they first danced to when they were pronounced husband and wife, the first live music act they saw together; or the song that was playing in the car…….as they drove home after a memorable date.
There are lots or irreverent selections of music that we hear at funeral services too. ‘Always look on the bright side of life’ by the Monty Python cast as the curtains close at your funeral service ALWAYS gives a wry smile to the attendees.
Our Office Manager Laura suggests families choose the music carefully and be prepared for the reaction they may have when their chosen song is played in the future on the car radio, at the supermarket or another venue catching them off guard when they least expect it. From her experience, she also loves when family members, if able to, personally sing as tribute at the service, or record it before hand; it is a very powerful moment for all attending. If the family members themselves can’t sing, having a live performance can be very intimate and moving too.
Paul in our office loves ‘Supermarket Flowers’ by Ed Sheeran as floral tributes are placed on their loved ones coffin and also thinks that ‘He aint heavy, He’s my brother’ by The Hollies (and others) is beautiful to play as siblings carry in their brother to a funeral service.
One of our staff, Robert who hails from Scotland wants at his funeral service a live bagpipe version of his two favourites ‘The Black Isle’ and ‘Caledonia’. Very fitting for a man with a heavy Scottish brogue!
Shaun from our office wants his funeral service to have more a party atmosphere, reflective of his own favourites he has nominated ‘Thunderstruck’ by ACDC, ‘Sweet home Alabama’ by Credence Clearwater Revival and ‘Bat out of Hell’ by Meatloaf. This should get everyone’s toes tapping in the chapel!!
Collectively though, I think it is clear, as individual as we all are, our music selections for our funeral services should be as individual as we are. There is no right or wrong, and nothing is too far to reach for.
With over 70 years of collective funeral service experience on our team there isn’t too much that we haven’t seen or heard. We always love being introduced to new versions of old songs, or new song selections completely.
What does your soundtrack look like?