"You're more likely to hear Monty Python's Always Look On The Bright Side of Life - according to a 2014 survey, the most popular song played at UK funerals - than Verdi's Requiem."Well, I should think you are. "Always look" is about 4 minutes long. Whereas Verdi's Requiem is getting on for a couple of hours. The debate with the Crem management would be interesting.
"Can I bring my own CDs?"
"Sure. Which track?"
"Oh, no. All of it."
"No. And the 200-strong quire ain't going to fit in the 'Jezza Bentham Memorial Chapel'."
"OK. Can we have 'My Way'?"
"My Way" being the summary of the modern funeral. A bloke who's done stock accounting at a brass accessories firm for 50 years, then died because he couldn't face the wild excitement of sitting in his front room watching "Cash in the Attic" and they play "My Way." Just like they did for his dad, and his uncle. And technically "the end is near", but only because we're looking back on it.
"Always look on the Bright Side of Life" is a glorious song. Fantastically inappropriate in its original context, picked up with sarcastic intent by gloomy football fans. It's a song exactly in keeping with the modern view on life and death. That is, it is literally whistling in the dark. It's not about "celebration" rather than "mourning". It's about ironic fatalism, the thing English people fall back on when we have nothing to believe in. Whereas the old BCP funeral service, with its sure and certain knowledge of eternal life, its glimpse of eternity and resurrection - that was, among the challenge, hopeful.
The irony that "Soul Limbo" is in the top 20 in that survey cheers me up no end. I hope "Another one Bites the Dust" is due for a comeback.