So, pick yer deathbed tune yet?
I don't think it's especially profound to say that most of us hope to have some degree of control over the end of our lives (after a long, happy life, natch). Hopefully, all our of deaths will be peaceful, serene, and surrounded by loved ones.
Well, we don't know if that's going to happen, but we can at least make sure the background music's good.
For years, my decision was obvious. "Asleep" by The Smiths, right? Had that nice lullaby feel, sad, snotty, chock full of contempt and that "you'll be sorry when I'm DEAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!" attitude that just somehow seemed to fit.
Then, with age came wisdom and a more optimistic worldview, and I thought that "Now My Heart is Full" would be a great sendoff.
Then I discovered there were other songwriters besides Morrissey. That's what happens when you wait seven years between albums. Asshole. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I didn't mean that, I can't stay mad at you.
Wait a minute. What was I talking about? Oh yeah, deathbed tunes!
I don't know if this was true, but Howard Stern said that when Joey Ramone passed away, he was listening to "In A Little While" by U2. Nice song, it certainly gains significance by its role in the passing of one of America's greats, but if you're going to pick a U2 deathbed song, it's gotta be "One".
Or maybe we should go the ironic route? Although I bet even Alanis is sick of that song by now. How about "I Don't Wanna Grow Up"? Two great versions to choose from! "It's the End of The World as We Know It" wouldn't be a bad choice, but what if the Grim Reaper comes to guide you for your journey? You wouldn't want him thinking you're a wise-ass...
"We Are The World"? No, what if the Grim Reaper throws up and accidentally overturns the boat as you're drifting down the River Styx? (You can make your own "Sail Away" joke).
"Waiting for a Friend"? Hmmmm, I don't think the last image I want in my mind is Keith Richards, death is scary enough by itself.
"Not Dark Yet"? Heeeeeeey, not bad, but Bob might have written that one for himself.
Hold on, what if as you shuffle off this mortal coil, and you reach the crossroads/pearly gates/settle up station or whatever, and the tiebreaker just happens to be your appreciation of phat rhymes and dope beats? Well, maybe I should go with Jay-Z's "My 1st Song". If it was good enough to end the career of HOV, how can I argue against it?
Why not just embrace sentimentalism? "What A Wonderful World". If people bust your chops for a cheesy deathbed song, you can just choose to walk the earth and haunt the motherfuckers.
Radiohead's "How to Disappear Completely" is a strong candidate right now. Graceful, pretty, Yorke's pleading vocals properly convey the sense of proportion of one soul in an endless universe. Also, it's almost six minutes long, which might be important when you're near the end.
At this moment, I think I might go with Robyn Hitchcock's version of "Tryin' to Get to Heaven Before They Close The Door". Hitchcock, like Yorke, gets the sense of proportion across, but there's an edge there that I like. It's a gorgeous, calming song with the same lullaby feel of "Asleep" but without the pout.
Hmm. No Cure songs on this list. I'm a bit surprised, actually.
(Update coming w/song links.)