In its annual attempt to get publicity and show itself as moving with the times, Cooperative Funeral Care has issued the results of its latest funeral music survey.
It’s an interesting and commendable exercise, based on over 30,000 funerals in the UK conducted in 12 months up to September 2012.
The survey confirms the continuing demise of hymns and rising popularity of secular songs. Both types of music are still played at very many funerals, confirming the popularity of the modern British funeral, which is a mix of secular and religious elements, readily agreed by most CoE and other low church denominations.
As it has been for many years now, Frank Sinatra’s My Way heads the list of secular songs. Given the Cooperative Funeralcare’s attitude to funerals, exposed on Channel 4’s Dispatches, some might think Sinatra’s cover of Cole Porter’s Anything Goes more suitable.
The release of this year’s survey fuelled the interest of NME, pop music’s must read source of news and views, and its readers and writers have risen to the challenge of selecting their last songs with gusto. Those under the age of 30 should read and enjoy and then if inspired, send in their fave five funeral songs to My Last Song, so far lacking more modern music.
During his excellent talk on funeral desert island discs, Paul Gambaccini revealed that the original lyricist of My Way electrocuted himself standing in his bath changing a lightbulb shortly before the release of Sinatra’s version, thus losing the huge royalties that would have boosted his bank account.
Gambaccini also made the case for two other brilliant farewell songs from Sinatra, Always…a poignant reminiscence of a love affair, and It Was A Very Good Year, in which the singer, now in the autumn of his years, looks back on a lifetime of romantic attachments. There are a number of My Last Song aficionados of Frank Sinatra, and other tracks recommended are We’ll Be Together Again, Goodbye (a particular favourite of this writer) and I Thought About You.
So when thinking of a Sinatra song for the farewell ceremony, there are many alternatives to My Way, which Paul Anka re-wrote to be an emotional but now rather hackneyed mass seller.