On Thursday this week I attended a funeral of a friend. She was 42 and died as a result of cancer. For me, this is the third person I've known who has suffered this fate in the last few months and it's tough. Seeing her husband and three young boys say goodbye to the most important person in their lives was pretty confronting. The media often bemoans the lack of "community" in our society. And maybe this is true in regards to everyday life. But in times of trial and crisis, I have seen so many people act, as part of communities, to help, support and show concern to others. That's a shining light for me, something to hold on to in a dark, dark time.
It seems almost disrespectful to follow up those comments with my usual irreverence but, the funerals I have attended recently remind me that life is something to lead to the full. None of the people I knew who have passed away would want the rest of us to give up, slow down or be morbid. Being sad and grieving is important. Wallowing is not an option. And on that note, and in memory of Rach who was farewelled today, this episode will "kick arse".
I think a couple of happy songs are in order. Here are some that usually cheer me up.
Crowded House were (or maybe still are) on of Australia and New Zealand's best ever bands. This is my absolute favourite song of theirs. It has an intro that begs to be sung along with at the top of your voice. And, especially when played live, some awesome guitar work. I drove through Te Awamutu once - should've stopped to get my photo taken with the sign at the entrance to town after all. One day it will be as important as Graceland.
The next track is from a band that were pretty special. They played beautiful quiet songs as well as knowing how to inject plenty of energy an noise into a tune when it was required. This is Hothouse Flowers and their version of the Johnny Nash tune, "I Can See Clearly Now". It is a great uplifting song. Almost a secular version of "Morning Has Broken". Man, I must have had some real hippies and trendsetters as primary school teachers as I remember singing this a lot. Come to think of it, we sang a LOT at Primary School! Jimmy Cliff does an excellent version as well.
Here's a real toe tapper that never fails to make me smile. Most of you will know it from the Blues Brothers, but this is Solomon Burke. It's his song, and given that he passed away in late 2010 it seems the right version to play.
To finish up, a young man sang a beautiful version of this next song at Rach's funeral. It was her choice and you can probably work out why even if you didn't know her. I recall some cynical music journo once writing something about Billy Joel along the lines of the fact that no-one would be singing "Piano Man" in 50 years time. Billy is undoubtedly popular but is that a bad thing? I wouldn't play his music all the time but there is no doubt in my mind that he's written some classic lyrics and music. Some that will stand the test of time. This one certainly will in my opinion. I guess it will be Rach's song from now on and the tears will always well in my eyes when it plays.
Hug your loved ones,