Your songs, and why?
I used to say to people years ago that it would be “Purple Rain,” but… that no longer resonates with me. “Last December” is now my “Purple Rain.” It’s a song from his album Rainbow Children, which is not very popular but it’s one of my favorites. He was going through his Jehovah’s Witness thing, and it’s very obvious throughout the album. And I’m not one for religious songs. But it’s just… with the words, and the so many changes it goes through, it’s like a little opus– it changes even key, total rhythm. It does some really unexpected things, and then it ends as delicately as it began. And I hope I would end smoothly like that in the end, since there’ve been so many twists and turns in my life.
Another song is “A Song For You,” the Donny Hathaway version. I’d actually picked that as my funeral song way before “Last December.” When I heard that song, I was like, “OH. I would like that to be my funeral song! If anybody asks, that’s what I’m gonna say.” Even the opening lines
“I’ve been so many places in my life and time
I’ve sung a lot of songs, I’ve made some bad rhymes”
I mean, word for word, I could really relate. It’s almost like that is the message of love, but with some slight imperfections, that I would like to leave with the people I care about. And the chorus says, “I’m leaving this song for you.” And that’s what I’m doing! I’m leaving this song so that people know how much I cared about them…that I tried to show it through music and art.
And I want “September,” by Earth Wind and Fire! Because that’s the song for my dad’s Filipino side of the family. We play it at many of our family functions hosted by my aunt, whose birthday’s September 1st. And mine is September 3rd. I thought of this as the song where everyone leaves the building, walking away with some good, joyous feelings.
Another tie for the walkout song is “I Wanna Be Your Lover” by Prince. That was my wedding song, and that’s kind of how I’ve felt through life. I ain’t got no money…I wanna be your lover, I wanna be your friend. I want to know you. All the people that are sitting in this room—I have wanted to know you. So that’s a tie for third. (Probably a little ahead of September, actually.)
How do you envision this music being shared?
I don’t consider myself Catholic anymore, but I was raised in the Catholic Church. Ron and I didn’t want to get married in a Catholic Church, but after my grandma passed, I told him “You know, I think I wouldn’t mind having this ceremony in a church.” But then I’m forgetting that I’d really want a lot of things left out, and I don’t know if that could happen. I don’t want a priest reading the Bible…it’s more like I just want the room and the ambiance, which doesn’t maybe make that much sense. I just envision at the Catholic Church an altar where people come up and say stuff….but only for 15 minutes, and then we all leave. I feel like doing that there, I’d be close to my grandma.
But I’d also want a party too. Let me have this quiet seriousness, but also let’s have fun!!! And I wouldn’t mind hiring a live band, and have my friends play, and come up and take turns. I would like live music; I’d want a band that would just come out and really get people dancing and celebrating. I would like it more of a party, and more of a good time.
Your no-go songs?
If anybody tried to play Josh Groban “You Lift Me Up.” There’s also another song I’ve heard before called “I Hope You Dance.”
Or “Ave Maria.” That would definitely make me turn over in my grave. I would be horrified. I would be an absolutely horrified ghost.
Or any Christian faith songs. I don’t want anything like that.
And nothing country. That’s another thing.
So– no “Ave Maria”, nothing country…just…no. (And I actually really like Josh Groban—I just don’t want that song or anything like that playing at my funeral, because that’s such sad stuff.)