Belle and Sebastian, "Don't Leave the Light on Baby": "Because I mentally cry when I hear this song and think to myself, 'I want this played at my funeral.' One of the most beautiful songs ever written — a song about love, life and honesty."

Neil Young, "Old Man": "I never knew my dad, but I am going to make sure my son knows me. When I hear this, it makes me raise a glass and think about being a father, a son and a man."

XTC, "Dear God": "I have felt this way about the belief in God/gods since day one. Being an atheist in a world of religion makes a song like this heartfelt."

Miss Leslie, fiddle/vocals, Miss Leslie and Her Juke-Jointers

Sergei Rachmaninoff, "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini"/"Piano Concerto No. 2": "Beautiful melodies, rich harmonies — darkness and beauty all in one."

Bill Monroe, "My Last Days on Earth": "Bill Monroe wrote [this] for his own funeral. The recording is arranged with an orchestra and the sound of birds — it's not a song that would make you instantly think of Bill Monroe. But it is a beautiful melody, and very much a song that makes you think of your last day on earth — your funeral."

Jerry Ochoa, first violin, Two Star Symphony

Iron Maiden, "Hallowed Be Thy Name": As it turns out, this one song goes through all five stages of grief. Plus, I have signed drumsticks from Nicko McBrain!"

Tupac Shakur, "Thugz Mansion": "This one is to make my mama feel better. I also really, really hope that a) there is a heaven, and it's cool; b) Tupac is there, hanging out with Billie Holiday and drinking peppermint schnapps; c) I'm there, too."

Billy Joel, "Only the Good Die Young": "Assuming, of course, I die before losing the last bits of my youth. Is it tempting fate to add this one?"

Tom Waits, "It's Over": "Simply the greatest, most dour, resigned, hilariously wonderful song about passing on I've ever heard."

Tim Pitts, principal double bass, Houston Symphony

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, "Adagio," Grand Partita in B-Flat

Antonín Dvorák, "Poco Andante," String Quintet in G

Johann Sebastian Bach, "Adagio," Concerto in C minor for Violin and Oboe

Ludwig van Beethoven, "Adagio Molto e Cantabile," Symphony No. 9

Brad Turcotte, president, Compadre Records

Billy Joe Shaver, "Live Forever": Although the title says it all, it's a touching tribute among parents and their children.

Traditional, "Amazing Grace": "It's not a funeral without the classics."

Vince Gill, "Go Rest High on the Mountain": "'Son, your work on earth is done. Go to heaven a shoutin'.'"

Traditional, "This Is My Father's World": "I requested it at my father's funeral and have always remembered the lyrics from when I sung it in church."

Noise

AC/DC, "Hell's Bells": To mark a life well spent in rock and roll, with few (if any) regrets.

The Band, "The Shape I'm In": "Out of nine lives, I've spent seven. How in the world do you get to heaven?"

The Pogues, "Sally MacLennane": Once introduced thusly on the BBC's Old Grey Whistle Test: "Brace yourself for a tender ballad of drunken eternity"; not exactly a "tender ballad" at all, but plenty drunken. Noise expects those he leaves behind to throw one hell of a wake.

Ludwig Von Beethoven, "Marcia Funebre: Adagio assai," Symphony No. 3 in E-Flat ("Eroica"): Elegiac and mournful, then uplifting and triumphal.

The Rolling Stones, "Dead Flowers": A little bitter — okay, a lot — but there's real warmth at the heart of the Stones' drug-addled Sticky Fingers country ballad. "I won't forget to put roses on your grave" is one of the most haunting lyrics in the band's entire catalog.

U2, "Bad": Tough call over "One" and All That You Can't Leave Behind's "Kite," but Bono's yearning epitaph for Dublin's fallen heroin addicts, borne aloft by Edge's spiraling guitar and the increasingly urgent rhythms of Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr., sounds like a sublime way to greet the hereafter.

chris.gray@houstonpress.com

Don't Fear the Reaper:
16 Great Songs about Death

Johnny Cash, "The Man Comes Around" (American IV: The Man Comes Around, 2002)

Ralph Stanley, "O Death" (O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, 2001)

White Stripes, "Death Letter"

(De Stijl, 2000)

The Cure, "Lullaby"

(Disintegration, 1989)

Bob Dylan, "Silvio"

(Down in the Groove, 1988)

Depeche Mode, "Fly on the Windscreen" (Black Celebration, 1986)

Highwaymen, "Highwayman" (Highwayman, 1985)

Metallica, "Fade to Black"

(Ride the Lightning, 1984)

Mission of Burma, "That's When I Reach for My Revolver"

(Signals, Calls, and Marches, 1981)

Bauhaus, "Bela Lugosi's Dead"

(Bela Lugosi's Dead EP, 1979)

The Band with Emmylou Harris, "Evangeline"

(The Last Waltz, 1978)

Blue Oyster Cult, "(Don't Fear) the Reaper"

(Agents of Fortune, 1976)

Elton John, "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding"

(Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, 1973)

Black Sabbath, "Children of the Grave" (Master of Reality, 1971)

J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers, "Last Kiss" (Last Kiss, 1964)

Lefty Frizzell, "The Long Black Veil" (Columbia Records single, 1959)

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