By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Wedding, funeral songs are conversation starters
Placeholder Image

Funeral and wedding songs are often the subject of much discussion, particularly after the event.

Sometimes, a funeral or wedding song can create a conversation that begins the second you get in the car and close the door. The conversation usually begins with “Can you believe that?”

Once I read a book that talked about weddings and funerals. You might have a year to plan a wedding, while a funeral happens generally a few days after the departed departs.

Recorded music has become more and more en vogue at funerals. There is some merit to that. You don’t have to worry about your grieving second cousin maintaining his or her composure or forgetting the words while singing near the guest of honor.

In our neck of the woods, the singer is stationed a few feet from the casket. It can be a bit unnerving.

A popular funeral song these days is Garth Brooks singing, “Go Rest High on That Mountain.” It’s a nice song and can easily be sung in church.

I have been to funerals closed out by playing either Elvis or Frank Sinatra singing “My Way.” Some folks believe if the departed did it only his or her way, he or she may be singing “Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight,” if you get my drift.

I went to a funeral where the song “Ol’ Red” by Blake Shelton was played. It is a song from the perspective of a prisoner who is doing time for killing a man who was running around with his wife. The prisoner becomes the handler for the warden’s dog, “Ol’ Red.” The song involves the prisoner eventually tricking the dog to run south while he runs north and escapes.

By the way, Shelton is backed up on the song by Rachel Proctor, who is married to Gainesville native John Lancaster.

Playing the song at the funeral resulted in a little discussion in the car afterward. If this was the old rate-a-record from “American Bandstand,” it would not have fared well.

I hope I live long enough for Bruce Fields and Della Ruth Johnson to perform their celebrated rendition of “In The Garden.”

As for wedding songs, it is a current subject at my house.

We have a wedding coming up in May. The message from the bride is clear: No old fuddy-duddy songs. I think anything her mother and I like qualifies in that category.

When he first began playing and singing for weddings, my friend, Mark Green, said a popular song was “There is Love,” made popular by Peter, Paul and Mary. Not anymore.

Mark said when the song “Endless Love” came out in 1981, he sang it at a wedding before he saw the Brooke Shields movie. He said it was his first and only wedding performance of the song.

I don’t know if that resulted in his subsequent move from Alabama to Georgia. If it did, I would send the couple a thank-you gift. Mark Green is the best thing to come out of Alabama since Interstate 20.

I’m not sure what will be sung, played, hummed or whatever at the forthcoming nuptials, but I’m sure we will arrive at some happy compromise.

Negotiations are moving well. We have eliminated “Ol’ Red,” “Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight” and anything by Peter, Paul and Mary.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on

Regional events