My next gig...a little different!

tfarny

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I was asked to play at a memorial service for a friend / acquaintance, someone my wife and I knew somewhat, but weren't especially close to. Her grieving mother asked me to "play Go Tell It On The Mountain" randomly - I guess our friend must have told her mother that I play music. (?) So bang, I have a performance in three or four days, just me, all me. I couldn't have said no, but now I'm kinda wishing I had. I have no other info to go on, so for a set list I'm thinking "Go Tell It" (I kinda learned the vocal today), I'll Fly Away, and then...Stand By Me? Most of the songs I could just bang out on an acoustic without much prep are about cheating wives and suicide attempts. I can play This Land Is Your Land and maybe I would try Clay Pigeons although it's pretty depressing, I can play it straight through and it's about overcoming loss. I know Unknown Legend (Neil Young) by heart.
Maybe I'm overthinking it? I dunno. I can play Folsom Prison Blues and such in my sleep, it just doesn't seem right though!

Anyone ever been in this situation? I really hate playing acoustic by just banging on chords four to the bar but if I try and learn new material that's where I will be three days from now since vocals also take time to learn for me.
 

Big Monz

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I was asked to play at a memorial service for a friend / acquaintance, someone my wife and I knew somewhat, but weren't especially close to. Her grieving mother asked me to "play Go Tell It On The Mountain" randomly - I guess our friend must have told her mother that I play music. (?) So bang, I have a performance in three or four days, just me, all me. I couldn't have said no, but now I'm kinda wishing I had. I have no other info to go on, so for a set list I'm thinking "Go Tell It" (I kinda learned the vocal today), I'll Fly Away, and then...Stand By Me? Most of the songs I could just bang out on an acoustic without much prep are about cheating wives and suicide attempts. I can play This Land Is Your Land and maybe I would try Clay Pigeons although it's pretty depressing, I can play it straight through and it's about overcoming loss. I know Unknown Legend (Neil Young) by heart.
Maybe I'm overthinking it? I dunno. I can play Folsom Prison Blues and such in my sleep, it just doesn't seem right though!

Anyone ever been in this situation? I really hate playing acoustic by just banging on chords four to the bar but if I try and learn new material that's where I will be three days from now since vocals also take time to learn for me.
So, have you been asked to play more than the one song (Go Tell It), or just that one?

Yes, it obviously would need to be ocassion-appropriate. A buddy and I play ocassionally at Assisted Living centers and we worked up a medley of ‘Will The Circle Be Unbroken” and “I Saw The Light”. not sure those would work for you, but it’s a thought to consider. Good luck!
 

Fiesta Red

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I want ZZ Top’s “Tube Snake Boogie” played at my funeral.

I am not joking.

Celebrate the fact that I lived. Grieve on your own time (if my death does indeed cause any grief for anyone)…I want you partying on my time.

I doubt my very proper wife will fulfill my wishes…so the backup songs are ZZ Top’s “Sure Got Cold After The Rain Fell” or the Moving Sidewalks “You Don’t Know The Life I’m Living”.
 

drmordo

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A buddy and I play ocassionally at Assisted Living centers and we worked up a medley of ‘Will The Circle Be Unbroken” and “I Saw The Light”. not sure those would work for you, but it’s a thought to consider.

I agree - your original choices are solid, and "Will the Circle...?" is a good addition.

This is bringing back memories. When my grandmother died several years back, my uncle sang "Will the Circle...?" acapella while clapping his hands. It was very powerful.
 

RetiredUnit1

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I had someone tell me they wanted me to play at a memorial, and after 12 days of practicing, they called and said they were going to have it in another state where the majority of the relatives lived.

So a what the ??? kinda moment mixed with "ahhh, off the hook"
 

RetiredUnit1

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Your songs are good. I’ve done a few weddings but only one funeral and it was a hired gig. One song that is a good vocal that fits many situations is “ Amazing Grace”.
At the one I was *going* to do I had chosen that with 'gather by the river', 'Seagull' by bad company and I can't remember the other two songs. It was 15 years ago.
 

drewg

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Couldn’t you still share your song list with the mother? Or just ask what kind of music she liked?

I like the songs you and others mentioned….

I can think of others but it might depend on the circumstances of her passing. Me and Bobby McGee, Hey Hey, My My (or is it My My, Hey Hey?– the softer one).
 

Fluddman

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I did 'If You Leave Me Can I Come To' - which is by Australian band Mental As Anything. It was actually requested by the deceased and was quite moving.

Good luck with it.
 

FortyEight

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In 2020, right before the lockdown my grandma passed away in February. When were all at the mausoleum I played Silent Night on my acoustic and sang. But everyone was singing too. Supposedly we are related to Franz Gruber (wrote silent night). It wa also played at her mothers funeral.

Go for it man. Its an honor. But dont overthink it. Sharing in special ways at a funeral is a wonderful thing. No matter how polished or simple.
 

39martind18

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When my mother passed a few days before Christmas in 2007, all the siblings were there to celebrate Christmas with her. Things pivoted when she had a stroke that took her. Her request for her memorial service was "Lord of the Dance," which my brother and I learned and performed with him on flute and me on my avatar. I guess we did it well enough, because the pastor commented that in 30 years of conducting memorial services, it was the first time people applauded for the music performed.
 

teletail

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I wouldn’t over think it. Sure you don’t play British Navy drinking songs, but if you’re playing a whole set, it’s background music, not a concert. Just play what you’re comfortable with and apply a little common sense.
 




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