IMAGINE no "Imagine": it's easy if you are a crematorium with a
moratorium on "unsuitable" songs for funerals.
Alongside its most recent survey on popular funeral music, the
largest funeral director in the UK, Co-operative Funeralcare, has
revealed that one in four funeral parlours has had song requests
turned down by clerics. Among them is John Lennon's song, with its
lyrics "Imagine there's no heaven".
Other inappropriate songs include "Disco Inferno", by The
Trammps (it contains the words "Burn baby burn"), and Meat Loaf's
"Bat Out of Hell". Neither is "Fat-Bottomed Girls", by Queen,
Huge numbers continue to ask for Frank Sinatra's version of "My
Way". It has received the highest billing in each of the past seven
surveys, and is requested at 15 per cent of all funerals. "Time To
Say Goodbye", by Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli, is next on the
list, followed by Bette Midler's "Wind Beneath My Wings".
Pop music is becoming more common. Hymns now constitute just 30
per cent of all funeral music, down from 41 per cent in 2009. Of
these, "Abide With Me" is the most popular, followed by "The Lord
Is My Shepherd", and "All Things Bright and Beautiful." Only four
per cent of choices are classical music: Elgar's "Nimrod" is the
most requested, followed by Canon in D by Pachelbel, and Schubert's
"Hymns were once the mainstay of a funeral service, but pop
music plays such an important part in people's lives that it now
acts as the theme tune to their passing," says Lorinda Robinson,
head of marketing at Co-operative Funeralcare. "Song lyrics now
provide the poignant words to remember a loved one's life, either
to acknowledge how much they were loved and will be missed, or as a
reminder of their favourite hobby, pastime, or humour."
Some choices do go uncensored. Eric Idle's "Always Look on the
Bright Side of Life" featured at number 13 in the list of popular
music, despite featuring in the Gospel parody Monty Python's
Life of Brian. One coffin even disappeared behind the curtains
to the clock music from TV's Countdown.
Equally surprising is the news that those who are mourning want
live music. More than half of all funeral parlours receive requests
for live performances, from pipers and choirs to steel bands and
Top ten contemporary
1 "My Way" by Frank Sinatra
2 "Time to Say Goodbye" by Sarah Brightman and
3 "Wind Beneath my Wings" by Bette Midler
4 "Over the Rainbow" by Eva Cassidy
5 "Angels" by Robbie Williams
6 "You Raise Me Up" by Westlife
7 "You'll Never Walk Alone" by Gerry and the
8 "We'll Meet Again", by Vera Lynn
9 "My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion
10 "Unforgettable" by Nat King Cole
Top ten funeral hymns
1 "Abide with me"
2 "The Lord is my shepherd"
3 "All things bright and beautiful"
4 "The old rugged cross"
5 "How great thou art"
6 "Amazing Grace"
8 "Morning has broken"
9 "The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended"
10 "Make me a channel of your peace"
Top ten classical pieces
1 "Nimrod" by Elgar
2 Canon in D by Pachelbel
3 Ave Maria by Schubert
4 "Nessun dorma" by Puccini
5 Pie Jesu by Fauré
6 The Four Seasons by Vivaldi
7 Adagio by Albinoni/Bizet
8 "Air on the G string" by J. S. Bach
9 "Largo" by Handel
10 "Clair de Lune" by Debussy