From my husband on the music played at the wake of my late father-in-law:
Dad loved all kinds of good music. We put together a selection of fifteen of his favorite tracks on a CD and played them at his wake, not to sum him up but to evoke him. Where the songs are in hyper-text, I took a short video of Dad's memorial shrine with these songs playing in the background:
"Down to the River to Pray," Alison Krauss, on Oh, Brother, Where art Thou?
“I’ll Fly Away,” Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch on Oh, Brother, Where art Thou?
“Didn’t Leave Nobody but the Baby,” Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch on Oh, Brother, Where art Thou?
“Turn, Turn, Turn,” based on Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, composed by Pete Seeger, performed by The Byrds. “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven…” These lines, attributed to King Solomon, who reigned approximately during the 10th Century BCE, may be the world’s oldest pop lyrics.
“Where Have all the Flowers Gone?” Peter, Paul and Mary.
“Leader of the Band,” Dan Fogerty. The lyrics of this song are about the singer's father, a bandleader in Peoria, and how the singer carries on his legacy.
“Danny Boy,” Charlotte Church on Voice of an Angel. Dad specifically requested this song. This is an unusual version, in that Charlotte Church, who came to fame about age 12, was very young when this was recorded and sings it in a very light, high soprano. But my mother thought this version was beautiful and that it was fitting that another Celt (Charlotte Church is Welsh) sing this Irish-themed song.
“O Mimi, tu più non torni,” Giacomo Puccini, duet by Marcello and Rololfo in the opera La Bohème, sung by Mario Sereni and Nicolai Gedda on Encore: The Most Famous Opera Duets. My mother said there was one opera duet my father really enjoyed, but she couldn't remember the name -- it was "two guys singing." We found a disk called The Most Famous Opera Duets near the stereo. I figured it was a good chance the aria was on that, and I played each track with male vocalists until she recognized it. We jokingly referred to this track as 2GS (= two guys singing). The choice is poignant, as this aria is sung after the character Mimi has died of tuberculosis, and the title of the aria translates as "Mimi, you will not return."
“Macarena,” Carlos Montoya. Not the Macarana of dorky line dance fame but a Flamenco classic. My father used to go to the visiting room of my mother's dormitory at Stanford with long-playing records and romance her with Flamenco.
“Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major, BWV 1048: I. Allegro,” by Johann Sebastian Bach. Württemberg Chamber Orchestra and Günther Kehr, on The 50 Most Essential Pieces of Classical Music.
“Oboe Concerto in G Minor - Largo,” Johann Sebastian Bach, Christian Hommel, Cologne Chamber Orchestra and Helmut Müller-Brühl, on The Very Best of Bach. Bach, yes indeed, what's not to like?
“Das Lied von der Erde – Von der Jugend,” Gustav Mahler, Ljubljana Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Anton Nanut, on Vienna Master Series. Dad was a big Mahler fan.
“’Tis the Gift to be Simple- Appalachian Spring Suite, Doppio Moviemento (Shaker Melody),” by Aaron Copland; New York Philharmonic conducted by Leonard Bernstein. Both quintessentially American and unmistakably classic.
“Novia Scotia Farewell,” by Ian and Silvia. This Canadian husband and wife singing duo recorded some wonderful songs in beautiful harmony, including this modified sea chanty.
“The Joy of Living,” by Ewan MacColl, on Black and White: Ewan MacColl – The Definitive Collection. My parents first saw Ewan MacColl at Berkeley in the early Sixties, where, my mother says, he showed up at his concert with no musical instrument, turned a chair on the bare stage around so that its back faced the audience, sat down, leaned forward ... and filled the room with wonderful, reverberating sound. I personally remember going to his next concert in Berkeley with my parents when I was four. Always left-wing and close to labor, Ewan MacColl was barred from entering the United States, and his wife, Peggy Seeger, sent his best wishes and gave a concert instead. Ewan MacColl wrote "The Joy of Living" when he was seriously ill. This song, which my mother has asked us to play at her own memorial service, is the ultimate farewell song.
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