Playlist for a Funeral

by Alison Bonaguro
(as seen on AllAboutCountry.com, March 2006)


First, let me apologize to all the priests and rabbis I may offend. I know funeral services are usually steeped in religious tradition, but I'd like mine to be steeped in something else. Specifically, country music. I've even created a playlist on my iPod titled "Funeral." It may sound morbid, but I'd rather pick out songs now, while I'm healthy, than leave it to some funeral director who wouldn't know a banjo from a steel guitar.

Don't get me wrong. The idea of death scares the hell out of me. But my actual funeral? That, I'm looking forward to.

And who better to send me out than the artists I loved in life? So when I do make it to the other side, why not have Garth Brooks serenade me with "Good Ride Cowboy"? When he sings When we cross that River Jordan/With St. Peter on the other side/Saying "Good ride, cowboy, good ride, there won't be a dry eye in the house.

But Tim McGraw's "My Old Friend" will bring my loved ones back around, telling them that The love and the laughter/Will live on long after/All of the sadness and the tears . It's songs like this one that I'm counting on to start a chorus of remember-the-time-we stories from the friends I grew up with.

And what funeral service would be complete without a mention of where it is you're headed? I'm sure some priest will say a few words about the final destination of my soul. But instead of a religious requiem, I'd much rather have Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton singing about all the things you can do once you get to J.C.'s house in "When I Get Where I'm Going." I'm much more at peace with my own mortality when I picture myself, as Brad says, shedding the sins and struggles I have carried all these years.

There's even a folk song my funeral playlist. It's called "Jukebox on my Grave," by Ellis Paul. He says I don't want no headstone /No cold tears /Just a jukebox to say /A music man lays here. Technically, I'm not a music man. Or even a man, for that matter. I'm a music journalist, but there just aren't enough good mournful songs about those.

Depending on how popular I am when I die, the funeral could go on for hours. So my playlist is pretty extensive. And there's no shortage to country songs that either celebrate or lament death. Must-haves on the list include:

. "Best I Ever Had" Gary Allan
. "You'll Be There" George Strait
. "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
. "Go Rest High" Vince Gill
. "If Heaven" Andy Griggs

Kenny Chesney's song "Who You'd Be Today" would be the perfect way to end my funeral. It asks all the right questions about what you'd be doing right now if it weren't for your tragic and untimely death. I already know the answer to who I'd be on that particular day. I'd be the one by the funeral home's stereo system, turning up the volume going, "Oh. My. God. I love this song."