What is the Last Song You Would Want to Hear?

8 Nov

I was driving down the interstate as my girlfriend scanned through radio stations. She loves country music, and I tolerate it. I have often theorized that my distaste for country music comes from growing up near the capital of the genre. Whatever the case, I needed to break the scanning pattern, so I asked, “What is your all time favorite song?” She really couldn’t say and asked me the same question. Typically, I couldn’t say either. However, it reminded me of something I did in high school. I would think to myself, “Self, if you were dying what’s the last song you would want to hear?” Morbid I guess, but sometimes teenagers have morbid thoughts. I can’t remember what songs I chose then, but I have some ideas of what I would choose now. In no particular order they are:

1. “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” by Bob Dylan – First, it’s a great song. Second, it plays over one of the great dying scenes in cinema history. In “Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid”, Slim Pickens has been gut shot. As he holds his stomach, he and his wife, played by Katy Jurado, look into each other’s eyes for the last time. She is crying, and he is in shock. This is one of my favorite movies because Sam Peckinpah, the director, shows the destruction of the frontier by killing western character actors throughout the film.

2. “Hotel California” by The Eagles – In junior high, I had one of those tapes that showed devil worshipping in popular music. Sometimes it played songs backwards to show secret messages. “Hotel California” was played forwards because it was obviously the work of Satan.  I was fascinated and fell in love with the song. It was later that I realized the devil worshipping claim was a result of religious ignorance. Despite my disappointment that the devil was not at the hotel, I can still see the story in my mind when it plays.

3. “Across 110th Street” by Bobby Womack – This soul classic comes from the era of Blaxploitation films. The movies are great, but the music is better. I have always loved 70s soul, and this is one of the best. Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong place, wrong time and wrong skin color. Maybe I will be reincarnated as a 70s pimp.

4. “A Whiter Shade of Pale” by Procol Harem – This is another song that I can envision in my mind as it plays. I can’t describe it. I can only quote it.

She said there is no reason.

And the truth is plain to see

That I wandered through my playing cards,

And would not let her be

One of sixteen vestal virgins

Who were leaving for the coast.

And although my eyes were open,

They might just as well been closed.

How psychedelic is that?

5. “More Than a Feeling” by Boston – This is a story of lost love and the memories that follow. It brings to the surface the great regrets of my life. I, like numerous others, have decisions that I wish I could change. It doesn’t necessarily involve a lost love. It could be anything. This song brings about those thoughts and feelings.

6. “In My Life” by Jose Feliciano – I know. This is a Beatles song, and everybody thinks they are the best thing since sliced bread. I don’t care. Jose Feliciano did it better. His voice and singing style brings the belief that it is coming from his soul. In fact, I like just about everything he’s ever done.

7. “Early Morning Rain” by Elvis Presley – Written by Gordon Lightfoot, this is one of Elvis’ least known songs. It was featured on the “Aloha from Hawaii” broadcast and has been lost in the rest of that performance. I have been fascinated by Elvis since my parents took me to a concert. I was only 7 and only remember pieces. However, we had front row seats and still recall his presence. I’ve been to Graceland numerous times and read the two-part biography by Peter Guralnick. There has to be an Elvis tune on this list, and I choose this one.

8. “Way Down Under” from the “White Lightning” soundtrack – Burt Reynolds was in his prime as a B-movie southern redneck, and his career declined when he began making more “refined” movies. This movie is one of his best, but it’s the song that struck me the most. Played over the funeral procession of the sheriff, the lyrics are great.

At the backdoor of Hell

Is an old rusty bell.

And it rings with the sound of thunder.

Way down under.

9. “Numb/Encore” by Linkin Park and Jay-Z – The only thing I can say is that this is one of the coolest songs ever. The mixture of artists makes an already great song even better. If you are going to go out, then you might as well go out in style.

So, there is my list in November 2011. It has to be completely different from my 80s list and is probably different from my future list.

I realize that very few people have read this blog so far. But, if you read this post and find it interesting, then I would be interested in seeing your list.

3 Responses to “What is the Last Song You Would Want to Hear?”

  1. booksnob December 5, 2011 at 03:53 #

    Explosions in the Sky – Postcard from 1952 I have loved this band for many years. This is off of their most recent album, and follows their standard format of quiet guitars and little percussion > louder guitars with slightly more percussion, but there’s something about this song that just…it’s so difficult to put into words. I told my husband one night that it’s just joyous, and that’s the closest I can come to describing how it makes me feel. I think this would be a lovely final song to listen to.

    The Gothic Archies – City of the Damned I would go out with a smile on my face.

    Magnetic Fields – All My Little Words or Come Back from San Francisco Two of my favourite songs from one of my desert island albums.

    I’m sure there are a lot more that I could come up with, but I’ll stop at four. 🙂

    • Tennessean-Historian-Blogger December 5, 2011 at 16:13 #

      I will check those out. There were a lot more for my list as well, but I was at my limit for writing that night. I saw Black Label Society and Guns ‘n Roses last night. I will be blogging about it later today.

      • booksnob December 5, 2011 at 16:49 #

        Wow, 20 years ago, I would have been SO EXCITED to see G’nR. I don’t know how I’d feel about it now. I look forward to reading about your experience!

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