Once upon a crying rainbow, we got to thinking about funeral songs and how, the odd buzzfeed hyperlist and the biannual traditional Co-Op Funeralcare run down aside, the whole wide worldwide Internet appears to be unusually coy about revelling in farewell tunes, especially ones which come from the leftfield. Considering the one certainty in this life is that one day this life will end and we’ll be sent on our way to the soundtrack of our lives this seems like an extraordinary oversight.
So here we have www.mourningglories.co.uk, a website for sore eyes and a chance to share out some tunes which could well bring melodic comfort in those final precious moments. Without attempting to be macabre or wallow in self-pity on here we will attempt to find another way to ‘My Way’, an addition to the final ‘Countdown’ theme, an alternative angle to ‘Angels’ sending you off soaring with… oh, you get the picture. Now let’s get emoting.
MERCURY REV ‘Holes’ (1998)
Spiritual brethren of The Flaming Lips – their ‘Deserter’s Songs’ album was recorded at the same time as ‘The Soft Bulletin’ and in the same studio with Dave Fridmann at the controls – these upstart Upstate New Yorkers upped the ante with ‘Holes’. Legend has it that the Rev we’re ready to call it quits and so as this was their last throw of the dice they threw strings, brass and several kitchen sinks into the mix. Epitomising that febrile ethos, ‘Holes’ is filled with romance, weirdness and a sad, sad, weariness which never once wears thin over six minutes. Plus, if the seminal line “Holes, dug by little moles,” doesn’t bring cosmic smiles in the aisles then you have got yourself the wrong congregation.
BARK PSYCHOSIS ‘Blood Rush’ (1991)
Once upon a shiny meanbeam one of us used to write for the NME and made the ‘Manman’ EP by Bark Psychosis Single Of The Week, primarily because of this track, about which we merrily said: “Finally we have found a song to be played at our funeral.” These East London sonic explorers feared not creating a tumultuous noise at times, but at other times their stark beauty was astonishing. ‘Bloodrush’ doesn’t bloody well rush anywhere, gliding along on the back of some of the most radiantly crystalline guitar beamed down from a distant post-rock galaxy. It gets really quiet, and it’s really quite long. Consider it your farewell gift to manmankind.
THE WALKER BROTHERS ‘Love Her’ (1965)
It takes a bit of prep work, but some Mourning Glories could be cannily chosen to convey secret-ish messages from beyond the grave. The Walker Brothers possibly weren’t thinking that when making this symphonic ’60s nugget, but the alternative to the heart-achingly obvious ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore’ reaches its apogee in a hushed, crushed middle eight when they boldly encourage her new lover in ‘Love Her’ to: “Be the guy that I couldn’t be… Love her, love her for me”. This was their second ever single and, intriguingly, the first with Scott fronting up the vocals. As if that was ever going to work.
THE BLUE NILE ‘The Downtown Lights’ (1989)
Five years earlier the shimmering pathos of ‘Tinsel Town In The Rain’ had marked The Blue Nile down as gnawed romantics, painting smeared pictures of Glasgow in the diesel-doused drizzle. ‘The Downtown Lights’ follows a similarly tragic trajectory, all sighing synths and tinselled emotions lifted from the ‘Hats’ album (on which the track ‘Let’s Go Out Tonight’ is too desolate, even for our moribund tastes). We’re choosing the six minute 31 seconds LP version so we don’t miss the moodswing towards the end where Paul Buchanan cries “I’m tired of crying on the stairs”, because that’s how we roll.
TERRY JACKS ‘Seasons In The Sun’ (1974)
Too often dismissed as cheeseshirted bubblegum pop, a tonne of the cheese is actually offset here by the funereal sentiment lurking beneath ‘Seasons In The Sun’. A bright-eyed lyrical rewrite of ‘Le Moribond’ by Jacques Brel from a decade earlier, this letter from a dying man really captured the moment for one of us as it was played out by Ken Bruce on Radio 2 while a stray lump of a KFC Zinger burger got lodged in our windpipe in Knutsford services car park. We survived, but the line “But the stars we could reach / Were just starfish on the beach” still brings a stray lump to the throat.
Sadfaced freakout comic Emo Phillips once said that ambiguity is the devil’s volleyball. In this absolutely ravishing five minutes and 17 seconds from the Oklahoma City dwellers’ ravishingly absolute ‘The Soft Bulletin’ album the cosmically freaked out Wayne Coyne observes: “But life without death is just impossible / Oh, to realise something is ending within us” over an absurdly, goose-bumpingly lush chorus of breathy acapella loops and the starriest guitar solo this side of Neptune. Kinda like ‘I’m Not In Love’, only more deathy. No volleyball needed.
THE WALKMEN ‘The Rat’ (2004)
Not all Mourning Glories offer tearful condolences. Some goodbyes are really bloody hecking furious. Anger is an energy, right ’til the very bitter end. Enter ‘The Rat’ by Philadelphia’s freedom fighters The WALKMEN: propelled forward by Matt Barrick’s unfeasibly hectic drummings, this is a song for the rages, except in one moment of seething contemplation when Hamilton Leithauser mourns: “When I used to go out I would know everyone I saw / Now I go out alone, if I go out at all.” One of us started living out the soundtrack of our lives with that lyric. Really not a good idea.
RICHARD HAWLEY ‘Open Up Your Door’ (2009)
As a starting point goes for funereal farewells this is possibly not the most obvious seeing as how it has soundtracked commercial jollities such as advertorials for Renault Meganes and Haagen Das ice creameries. But then again, rating the bleedin’ obvious is not what www.mourningglories.co.uk is all about. From the ‘Truelove’s Gutter’ album, ‘Open Up Your Door’ works perfectly because it is epic, emotional, immaculately constructed and very, very classy. Plus, Hawley’s charms are sufficiently ambiguous for ‘Open Up Your Door’ to mean absolutely anything you wanted it to be.