Seven Songs to Leave Behind
“I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying.”
Last night I saw a drunk hot young thing on their way from a club stumble out of a pink stretch hummer (they do exist! I always thought they were like unicorns, or feminist footballers). She fell onto the sidewalk, with her crew behind her, loudly, and wretched into a gutter. Wow.
I also saw Gurrumul Yunupingu giving a crowd goosebumps, dirty sexy noises from John Cale, Ricky Lee Jones passionately rapping “Gangsta’s Paradise” (by Coolio), Sinnead O’Connor singing the holy spirit’s warning to the Vatican (“Take of Your Shoes…You can’t lie in front of me!”…fuck yeah), and Dan Sultan looking really cute – all during the course of the Seven Songs to Leave Behind Concert. Beauty.
The concert was staged as part of the Melbourne International Arts Festival, which this year (perhaps indicative of the changing zeitgeist) carried a spiritual, existential theme, that the concert tied into. I was drawn to the concert primarily due to the presence of one Meshell Ndegeocello, a Grammy nominated American musician most of my friends have never heard of but who I adore for being uncompromising and generally awesome (and for being a beast on the bass).
But the idea behind the concert fascinated me too: 9 artists supported by Orchestra Victoria performing Seven Songs that mean something special to them:
First song: a song that switched them on to being a musician
Second song: a song by Leonard Cohen
Third song: a song to share with another
Fourth song: a song that they covet, and wish they had written
Fifth and sixth song: their own, and
Seventh song: a song for the end of days… a song to leave behind.
The songs chosen by the artists included songs by Paul Simon, Curtis Mayfield, Leonard Bernstein and Bob Marley.
In between song sets snippets of films were screened – snippets of seven films you should see before you die as chosen by Melbourne company Daybreak Films.
In the midst of all this a thought passed through my head: what song would I leave behind, I wonder?
My mother frequently tells me what songs she wants played at her funeral so try as I do to avoid thinking in such terms, someone in my family always manages to drag me there. On the up side, it’s a great way to scare the shit out of myself and into positive action.
I don’t think it’s a great thing to think about one’s own funeral a lot – I sure as hell don’t. But it can’t hurt to think about what you want to leave behind… not in terms of a song, but in terms of a legacy. And not necessarily a material legacy, but perhaps an emotional legacy, an energetic legacy… that you affected someone or something in a positive way… that you mattered to somebody.
So, during the concert I took a mental break to follow this stream of thought… until Dan Sultan emerged onto the stage and brought me back into my body.
Sadly I can’t remember what he sang. I was distracted by his cuteness.
P.S. Archie Roach was scheduled to perform but suffered a stroke earlier this month 😦 He was going to perform “Somewhere” as a duet with Ricky Lee Jones – the rehearsal of which was recorded. Archie requested Ricky perform the duet live with his recorded voice. It was beautiful. Get well soon Archie.