For a long time, I’ve wanted a wake.
Right away, this begs the question of who services after someone’s death are for. Pretty much, they’re for the survivors, and I get that.
Still, it seems some of the more thoughtful viewings and the like that I’ve attended have tried to incorporate something of the deceased besides the coffin at the end of the room. Usually, this comes in the form of photos.
This doesn’t suit me so well. For one, I’m not terribly fond of being photographed, because it forces me to focus on how the world views me and I just am not that interested.
A better representation would be things I had DONE. A notebook of clips. A portfolio of artwork. Photos of my kids, maybe. Plants I had managed not to kill, as even now I have some that have been with me several years, and I like this purple wandering Jew better than some former co-workers and other folk who might choose to breeze through.
The other missing element is music. I usually don’t hear any, but I always have thought any event that was meant to mark my life needed to have loud guitars or it wouldn’t be a true reflection. I went so far as to tell my son a while ago that there was a song to be played at my viewing, LOUDLY, and he promised to cooperate.
I thought about this again when I was listening to my iPod Shuffle and my favorite Nirvana song, “You Know You’re Right,” came on. I sang along as loudly as I possibly could, even though I am not a belting kind of singer. It is a very personal song to me.
That made me think, though. It’s from a place I don’t live anymore. Another song I knew I needed at my wake, “Ain’t It Fun,” fell into the same category: deeply felt, but in memory now, not in present.
It still works. Not everything at a memorial is from the most recent past; some of it goes way back. And to tell my life without any pain in it would be a lie.
So for anyone who might be involved in planning such a thing, here’s a playlist so far, with annotations and appropriate links:
“You Know You’re Right,” Nirvana lyrics • video
“Patience,” Guns N’ Roses. This was played for the first dance at our wedding reception. lyrics • video
“Ain’t It Fun,” covered by Guns N’ Roses lyrics • audio
“Welcome to the Jungle,” Guns N’ Roses. OK, at this point you’re sensing a theme, and you’d be right. The original GN’R (sorry, Axl) was my favorite band on the planet, their concert my most meaningful. But in addition to loving the noise of this song, it has to be played as a joke because EVERY effing pro sports event plays it and I laugh every time. lyrics • video
“Seize the Day,” Avenged Sevenfold lyrics • video
“Take Me or Leave Me,” from “Rent” lyrics • video
“I Wanna Be Sedated,” Ramones. Besides that I love this song, I think it would be great funeral home music. lyrics • video