My death song? Tricky for me because I have, in my middle years, become mostly amusical.
I was once very different.
As an adolescent, I did what adolescents do, which is to say, I forged my identity through music.
I was a soul kid. A rock n’ roll kid. A bolero kid. A show tunes kid (a gaylord). A choral music and madrigals kid (double gaylord).
I was that kid, laying on the carpet, listening to LPs with my face to the stereo speakers, inching closer and closer till the speaker became a dark blur. I’d inch closer still, till I could feel it vibrating the side of my face. There, on the floor, I wanted something difficult to achieve without drugs. I wanted the membrane between me and those sounds, those lovely sounds, to dissolve, so that I could finally be raptured and absorbed into those melodies.
Decades passed. I hit my thirties, and music mattered less.
Then I passed through my forties, and NPR became my jam, and music in my life contracted ever more. Now, whatever aperture it is that lets songs into my heart has become a pinhole.
This amusicality is my condition, a hollow I carry about. To find a song meaningful enough to share on the occasion of my death, I must go back to an early part of my life, when the importance of music was so clear to me.
I choose Eydie Gorme y Los Panchos’ romantic bolero, “Sabor a Mi.” I know, I’m sappy. I choose it because it is swoony, understated, elegante, and sincere. I choose it because it was the first Mexican LP I loved. I choose it because it is about how we linger on in other people after we are gone. I choose it because my mom loved this song, and when I listen to it, I feel closer to her, and I feel that death might be a beautiful thing, if I get to commune directly with her, my most dearly beloved.
At my memorial, don’t play punk. Don’t play hard rock. Don’t play contemporary country. And for fuck’s sake, no hip hop. Do ply everyone with shots of amber, top-shelf tequila. Once the guests are nicely buzzed, but not knee-walking drunk, turn down the lights and fire up “Sabor a Mi.”
Then slow dance. Yeah. Everyone slow dance, and in the prettiest way, remember.