Funeral music [update]
Yesterday I helped give Anna Woolf what I thought was a pretty good send-off. ‘Twas great to see so many of you there to help remember her.
Today I’m listening to music, and otherwise being very unproductive. More on that music later, but first, here’s part of what I said yesterday:
Anna’s Mum said to me on Wednesday, “Anna was always the master of the last word.” But not this time. Not this time.
Anna Woolf died Wednesday, at 12:05pm.
She left us.
We’ll remember her. We’ll remember all the arguments we had with her. And all the good times. All the times she told us off. All the times that she was right. The rare times she was wrong. We’ll remember all her dreams, all her plans – all of them cut short by a bloody cancer.
We’ll remember her sense of fun—and her seriousness when she got down to business. For her friendship and her generosity. For her passion and her sense of justice. For her little giggle, and her louder shouts of anger.
As Mary Ann Sures said of Ayn Rand's death, "now anger has gone out of the world. And it's the world's loss, and mine."
And so it is now.
And since so many of you have mentioned her anger, let me paraphrase something someone else once said about Ayn Rand’s anger.
The problem is that talking only of her anger connotes irrationality and emotionalism. But talking about her anger isn’t talking about what caused it. Why did she loathe some people? Why was she so quick to denounce those she opposed? Because she was a valuer. . . When someone said something that was not true, she made an immediate valuation that it was bad, and values are the cause of emotions. Strong values cause strong emotions.
Above all, Anna was a valuer. She lived her values, and loved those who did too – people who brought their values into reality.
Anna was a woman who never faked reality. She just wasn’t made that way. She faced it all straight on: as the master of her fate, and the captain of her soul.
And that, I think, is what so many of us here loved so much about her.
She had more real integrity than almost anyone I’ve ever met. And I loved her for it.
I look forward to joining up with friends and family every year on December 2nd at 12:05pm to help finish off your bucket list.
Here’s the music Lindsay Perigo sent along to help us send off our fallen heroine – a seventeenth century German nuptial song sung by Fritz Wunderlich (which, sadly, we couldn’t squeeze in yesterday, but we sure as hell can here):
The poem, by the way, was translated by H. W. Longfellow as ‘Annie of Tharaw’
Helping organise the music for Anna’s funeral, based on her own requests, made me think about what music I might have at my own funeral – which as it happens I’ve been listening to today.
Surprise, surprise: here’s 'Siegfried’s Funeral March' by Wagner – my choice to accompany my own journey into Valhalla—or at least my coffin’s journey into the room. (Make sure you turn it up to eleven to enjoy it as Wagner intended.)
Here’s what I’d have for sitting still and listening to before all the eulogies—a young man singing about his love of life just moments before his execution:
And I’ve been listening to this again today: the poetry and process of grief, set to music : the ten core songs from Lou Reed’s 1991 ‘Magic & Loss’ album. (Forgive him for the white suit and mullet.) The first clip tells you the story. I think the last clip is the one I’d have played while everyone sat still after all the speeches-the song ‘Magic and Loss.’
I can just imagine Anna making the little joke Lou talks about in Track 7, ‘Goodbye Mass.’
Pull up a pew for forty minutes or so—it’s not intended to be background music—and experience some musical catharsis.
And finally, here’s the sort of number I’d like to be carried out to: Duke Ellington’s ‘Daybreak Express’ – done somewhat unusually here with model trains!
So there’s my pieces for my funeral, or something like it.
What would you have at yours?
UPDATE: By the way, I’ve posted Anna’s funeral music and some pictures as an update over at her Last Post, and I’ll be gradually posting all the eulogies as I can find them.