I stayed up way too late last night, watching the news waiting for the inevitable end to this thing we call life (or depending on what you believe at least this world we call Earth). I went to bed at 1:05 Chicago time (6:05pm Auckland) ensured that life would go on for at least another 19 months.
So now I’m a little tired, maybe from staying up, maybe because taking inventory where I work is about as exciting as an episode of Real Housewives of Akron. The rapture talk got me thinking about what kind of music I would want to listen to as I knew I was about to die. They touched on this subject a little in the underrated sci-fi flick Logan’s Run, though very briefly. My friends Chaperone did a podcast (informative and entertaining) about songs they want played at their individual funerals, but that’s a completely different topic as that would be reflective of your life and what you want others to hear (I would force people to listen to some future cover of “Party in the USA” by whoever the next Yuck happens to be-hopefully not the current Yuck).
I think if I knew I was going to die in the next hour or so, I would want to listen to something that wasn’t too heavy. But I would want it to be music that made one pause and reflect on all the good things in life. Here, now, is my playlist for the end of the world-one hour of music to send your spirit to heaven, before the nothingness that lies ahead of us all. Feel free to change up the tracklisting to fit your own personal wishes:
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band-“Backstreets”
“We swore we’d live forever on the backstreets we take it together”
It took me a long time to admit to myself and others that I like Bruce. Years went by where I would deride the man as a cheap Dylan knockoff. But as I got older, probably around the age The Boss was when he started writing pieces of Born to Run, my feelings toward him changed. His influences came from the same place Dylan’s did, Guthrie and Seeger, and Bruce put his own blue-collar spin on things. “Backstreets” has always been my favorite song of his, and I think when I come to my end perhaps I will be just another tramp crying tears of faithlessness.
Bright Eyes-“At The Bottom Of Everything” (the live Motion Sickness version)
“Death will give us back to God, just like the setting sun is returned to the lonesome ocean”
There was a night, many years ago now, when Kari and I were sitting in the apartment of our good friend Jeremy. What we were doing I don’t remember exactly, but I’ll assume video games were involved. Our other friend Jon was there, and he was playing this song on his guitar. This occured after our band Tax Evasion had broken up, but he and I would sometimes play really terrible music together (he on guitar, me on harmonica and vocals) at his house or anywhere with very little chance of interruption or people hearing us.
Anyway, a couple years after that night, Jon passed away unexpectedly. I was sitting in an Applebee’s when I got the call, and it hit me, but I don’t think I fully realized the gravity of what had happened. Not then.
Skip ahead to the following year, and I’m driving our car up to Minnesota to visit some people I didn’t know. Kari and a friend of hers were already there, so I had to make the trip alone. My iPod was on shuffle and I was about 40 or so miles north of Des Moines when “At The Bottom of Everything” came on. It started as normal and I was singing along with the first verse and then sometime around the line “We must set fire to the preacher who is promising us hell,” came on, I got the weirdest feeling.
I just started crying uncontrollably. Enough so that I thought that maybe I should pull over to the curb and settle down for a minute. I didn’t, though. I just let the feeling wash over me and accepted the fact that my friend’s death hit me harder than I thought it had. There are maybe two or three people in the universe that have heard this story (all of them also friends of Jon). Thinking about the end of humankind brought me to thoughts of him, and this song. I’ve heard it a million times since that day and it has had no effect, but in that one singular instance the idea that I would never see him again finally dawned on me.
The Thermals-“Pillar of Salt”
Because the chosen ones who survive God’s wrath will need an anthem! And what better way to celebrate your survival than by screaming out “We were born to sin?” I really do think that if the rapture ever happens, The Thermals should be spared (despite some less than great albums since this one) for writing such a great song.
The Doors-“Riders On The Storm”
I used to be a huge Doors fan, but now I’m in the “whatever” realm. However, this song has always stood out to me as the one to beat as far as Morrison-penned songs. It isn’t the most lyrically challenging song, but I think it fits in great with this piece.
Girl ya gotta love your man
Girl ya gotta love your man
Take him by the hand
Make him understand
The world on you depends
Our life will never end
Dire Straits-“Walk of Life”
Brothers In Arms is one of the most overlooked albums of all-time. It’s a crime how many people don’t consider it a great album.
And after all the violence and double talk
There’s just a song in all the trouble and the strife
You do the walk, you do the walk of life
Crosby Stills Nash and Young-“Everybody I Love You”
Because in the end, it’s all that really matters.
Though your heart is an answer
I need your love to get through
When I tell you I love you
You can believe that it’s true
This one is more of a personal choice, I suppose. You could switch it out with a lot of Wilco songs. “Ashes of American Flags” or “Jesus, etc” would be good choices as well. That last part of the song with the “music is my savior” line made it my pick.
For all the leaves will burn
In autumn fires and then return
For all the fires we burn
All will return
Music is my savior
I was maimed by rock and roll
I was maimed by rock and roll
I was tamed by rock and roll
I got my name from rock and roll
REM-“It’s The End Of The World As We Know It”
The most obvious choice ever! But, when you’re dealing with these sorts of things, why not go with the song that begins so accurately-“That’s great it starts with an earthquake, birds and snakes an airplanes”
Stevie Wonder-“The Joy Inside My Tears”
Honestly, if I had over an hour, I may just listen to all of Songs In The Key Of Life. The album is a true testament to Stevie’s talent as a songwriter and performer. This song in particular is one of my favorites.
I feel that lasting moments are coming fr and few between
So I should tell you of the happiness that you bring
Baby, baby it’s you – you – you
Made life’s his-to-ry
Oh baby, you’ve brought some joy inside my tears
Elton John-“Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding”
Because with Elton, the rapture will be the second hottest flame in your ears.
The end of the world should be a party. Especially for those of us who don’t believe in such ridiculous things.
That brings my set to 58:26. With my remaining 1:34 I would hum “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” as any patriotic American should.
How would your last hour on Earth sound?