Friday Odds and Ends: Music!

Okay, it has nothing to do with comics, but wow, what a great performance. We’re talking me watching on an iPhone at a Payless Shoe Store and getting a tear in my eye. Seriously. Janelle Monáe. Janelle Monáe. Janelle Monáe. Damn…

Anyway, I was talking to our friend Matt yesterday about death music (note change of subject, since the above video is 100% LIFE) and he volunteered Radiohead’s “Pyramid Song” before I could, but that one is definitely on the list. Got me thinking again about my own short list of death songs.

By “death songs” I don’t mean songs with lyrics about death, or music with a morbid style. I mean music that takes you right to edge of what-it-is-to-die. Existentially transportive songs, if that makes any sense.

On my list:

“River Man” by Nick Drake
“Pyramind Song” by Radiohead
“Meeting Across the River” by Bruce Springsteen
“Wayfaring Stranger” The Charlie Haden Quartet West
“Old Man” by Randy Newman
Chopin’s Nocturne in C Sharp Minor (personal connection there)
Purcell’s “Man that is Born” from the Funeral for Queen Mary
The theme for NPR’s “Selected Shorts.” Not sure why.

What’s on your list?

Discussion (21)¬

  1. twistables says:

    On my list: Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen or kd lang. Here’s a link to each of them to let you know what I mean. Cohen sings: http://tinyurl.com/ybcrmun Langs sings at Cohen’s induction to Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame–don’t miss the very very end http://tinyurl.com/c8j3ns

  2. Shostakovich’s “Novorossiisk Chimes” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxQnc2kBUQY (ENORMOUS dynamic range) and Mahler’s Symphony #2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rECVyN5D60I (Lenny…’nuff said) have always done it for me…

  3. What it means to die young in a particular way:
    Powderfinger, by Neil Young

    What it means for one left behind:
    Tank Park Salute, by Billy Bragg

  4. Zeke says:

    It really polarizes people (with more people falling into the ‘hate it’ camp, I suspect) but the Anthony and the Johnsons’ song “hope there’s someone” really goes there. Very etheral and, well, deathly…


    “The Burning Red” by metal band Machine Head is a also a pretty delicate song:


    And yeah, I prefer Rufus Wainwright’s version too. But only just. 🙂

  5. John says:

    Caravan – L’Auberge Du Sanglier melody – Going from busy and fast, to mellow and quiet, and then reprising the first part of the song gives me that sort of feeling. But that’s just me.

    Joe Hisaishi – Sea of Blue
    From Takeshi Kitano’s film, “Hana Bi”. I’m a huge fan of Kitano’s works.

  6. JubbenRobot says:

    I find Johnny Cash’s version of Hurt is a rather good momento mori…

  7. fedora says:

    not in particular order:
    harry nilsson – one
    pink floyd – wish you were here
    morphine – like a mirror
    half of the songs from the o brother where art thou soundtrack
    and I couldn’t leave out aeroplane over the sea from neutral milk hotel

  8. JacobWFordham says:

    If no one knows this band I get so much indie cred! But someone probably will. I’ll link to the lyrics if too cause the singer is weird.


    And lyrics


    It’s definitely a vision of the after life. Particularly the Greek concept of the river Styx and the Ferryman Charon. I think the song’s better then the MV. The vids creative but i think it tries to hard at being quirkilly animated for charming effect and ends up just looking choppy. But i love the song.

  9. Bel Canto’s entire album, “Shimmering Warm & Bright”. Especially “Unicorn” and “Monixuur”. As Scott said, nothing in there about death, but the texture of the music is nothing less than transportive.

  10. Elliot says:

    Eyy, Pyramid Song! I wrote a comic with a friend inspired by that song. It was about, erm, death.

    The second half of “The Slip”, that free Nine Inch Nails album, would be my pick. It starts off as straight pop songs, but gradually devolves into instrumental ambient stuff – so evocative and atmospheric.

  11. DreamTales says:

    I’m hoping the celestial heavens will be inspired by people like Dobet Gnahoré. (BTW I once had a psychic tell me that music sounds much better in the afterlife):


  12. Nick Cave has got an album called Murder Ballads, but they don’t give me that feeling of passage into the next like this song:
    O Children

  13. fedora says:

    I just remembered a scene from an anime: http://youtube.com/watch?v=4ZlQJwUXFjk

  14. Pat Race says:

    For me it’s Amazing Grace on the pipes and drums. Life & death all rolled into one wild cacophony. It seems like a cliche choice in this context, like it’s not indy enough, but I’ll put it out there.

  15. fromsteven says:

    “New Years End” by God is an Astronaut. This song never fails to take me there.


  16. Ray Nayler says:

    It’s definitely Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy’s “I See A Drakness” for me. I really can barely listen to it sometimes.


  17. John says:

    There’s one that I had to share. It’s been removed from YouTube, but I found it elsewhere.

    Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci’s “Starmoonsun” which works perfectly with the accompanying, albiet sad, cartoon:


  18. Leslie says:

    Maybe it doesn’t have nothing to do with graphic novels after all… Apparently Janelle Monae is planning to release a graphic novel about the crazy-awesome android plot that runs through her albums!