Thursday, 2 February 2012

A "Song" for a Funeral

Usually, if I find a video of a song/tune that might work for a funeral, I send it to the Good Funeral Guide, that runs a whole series of the same. Occasionally I put it up here.

Here's an unusual one. No vid, no pic. You'll have to look it out for yourself, if you don't have it. It is, of course, on iTunes.There is a video of the tune I want on YouTube, but good-ish though it is, it's at a 70th birthday tribute concert. The one I want you to listen to is the original, from 45 (blimey!) years ago. That is not on YouTube.

John Mayall's Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton, the "Beano" Album:
"Have Your Heard About My Baby?"

It starts with a lovely rolling tenor sax chorus from the late Dick Heckstall-Smith, and builds and builds. Mayall's soaring vocal is quite extraordinary. The words are few, and OK, it's not really "about" losing someone through death, but "Have you heard about my baby?/Where she's gone, where she's gone, I just don't know."

Well, do we?

And straightforward stuff about she wears the crown, the suggestion that he didn't love her enough (can we ever?) and finally, imagine this at a funeral, "if you see my baby,/please tell her that I love her so." He sounds utterly helpless and desolate.

I think it'd work at a funeral.

As for Clapton. He was 21. Where did he get such savage power, such frightening intensity? It's the kind of playing that feels as though something else is in control. It still tears me up, after all these years. It is the heart of loss. It burns. It's angry. Like you feel when you lose someone for ever.

It sounds almost as though they had to pull the guitar out of his hands at the end; there's a kind of despairing crash.

Forget the hype, and the rock nonsense about "bluespower." This is the purest of music.

It grieves.

It's what we need, before we move on to the "celebrating and honouring."

You think I'm being an ageing fan, who maybe should grow up? Well, maybe I should grow up, but it's not to do with fan worship. Unless you are truly allegic to the sound of an electric guitar and you've been finally put off the blues by all the "yeah, man" stuff, give your ears a wash, as it were, and just try it, please, because I'd hate you not to feel it, if you can.

Or maybe it's just because it's in my veins, and coming to it new doesn't work at all? Well, then I'm lucky.

1 comment:

  1. And for contrast, having been through a desolation of grief, nip over to the Good Funeral Guide and get yourself soothed by a most beautiful, poignant, gentle farewell: