In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

Claire, 48
San Francisco

Your songs, and why?

“In the Aeroplane Over the Sea,” Neutral Milk Hotel
“Astral Weeks,” Van Morrison
“Let’s Groove,” Earth, Wind, and Fire

I hate that the first two are white dude songs, but that’s the music I grew up with, and that most moves me. “Aeroplane” is a song that celebrates life in the midst of death, violence, and horror—a bit dark, but also beautiful and something that addresses all the confusing emotions that happen at a funeral. “Astral Weeks” is quietly ecstatic and plays with ideas of death and rebirth without being explicitly religious or having puerile notions of what actually happens to consciousness after death. Both are songs for the living, though.

“Let’s Groove” is probably my favorite dance song, and a purely “let’s move” type of song. Something to get people’s minds off of the funeral during the celebration portion.

Side note: I had no idea what songs I wanted for this at first, but then I went to my uncle’s funeral last weekend and my cousin (his daughter) chose the PERFECT song for him as the processional out of the memorial service and it kind of grounded me. The song was “My Hometown” by Bruce Springsteen, and it was perfect because he was a big Springsteen fan and he’d been kind of obsessed with urban redevelopment in the family homestead (Kalamazoo, MI, where he and my dad grew up) to the point of becoming a well-known local activist and advocate. It was made even more perfect by his funeral (in Kalamazoo) being absolutely PACKED with locals from every era of his life. There’s no music that’s that perfect for me but it made me think more clearly about what I wanted music to say about me at life’s end and what songs that I loved said those things.

Where/how to share these?

So I’m hoping for a memorial service somewhere outdoors followed by a raucous party somewhere indoors. “Aeroplane” and “Astral Weeks” would be the opening and closing songs of the memorial service (not necessarily respectively; not sure which is which.) And “Let’s Groove” would be announced in the middle of the dance party as my request that absolutely everyone get on the dance floor, however they can (in a wheelchair, sitting on the floor, whatever) and dance however they can with me and for me: a moment to just feel and move, physically, without having to reflect or have complex emotions.

Your “no-go” songs?

Pretty much any other rock, pop, or non-classical music that I didn’t choose myself. Appropriate classical music is okay, but nothing else.