I wrote “The Funeral” on the day of a funeral for someone who was very close to me. At the time, I was struggling with the question of, “should death be a time to celebrate that person’s life, or a time to mourn your own loss?” And that conflict is at the heart of this song.
Obviously, the song leans a little toward the mourning side in its melody, which is provided mostly by guitars. The lead melody was played on a Strat, and then flipped around. Later in the song, the acoustic guitar comes in – I re-sampled it and chopped it up (didn’t want it to sound too folksy).
I wanted the sound to be melancholy, but I also wanted the rythm to be celebratory. It just seemed appropriate for the song to have a certain bounce to it, kind of like a dirge you could nod your head to. Thus, the 808 beats.
By the way, I also used the 808 because I think of it as a newly traditional instrument of the south. The funeral in question was, after all, a southern one.
I’m leaving out the personal details, but this song is a particularly personal one to me. In fact, I’ve been surprised by its popularity because I wrote it just for me, to communicate an emotion, and to mourn the loss and celebrate the life of someone I loved. It’s a sad song, and usually I don’t like sad songs. But it means something to me, and it’s cool that it means something to others too.
Green Cigar is David Healy, a very talented music producer from the UK. David cofounded and helped run a digital label called Working Beats. Sometime in early 2005, he came across some of my demo tracks online, and got in touch with me about a distribution deal. I released three songs through Working Beats. You’d probably have a hard time finding those tracks now since the label closed a couple years ago. But I really enjoyed working with David – he encouraged me, and had a good feel for where I wanted to go musically.
And of course I really liked David’s music as Green Cigar as well. He’s well-versed in a number of electronic styles, and not confined to one in particular. He could drop breaks, downtempo, techno, or pop, do it well, and maintain the Green Cigar sound. I like that approach, and it’s the one I try to take too. Anyway, when I was writing and recording Rural Sounds, it just made sense to work with David on a remix.
What’s cool about the remix is that he tried to get at the intention of the song. That is, the melody, the feel, what the song intended to communicate. Then he accentuated that with his own sound and style. Really, that’s how a remix should always work, right? I was real excited the first time I heard it, and loved the track right away.
When you buy Zane Tate’s Boom Bap Sunrise on CD, 10% of the profits are donated to the World Food Program. Learn more here.
Zane Tate’s first volume of his Boom Bap Sunrise: Rural Sounds is the perfect soundtrack to that elliptical time when it’s neither dark nor bright, even if the atmosphere feels more urban than rural… It’s glamorous and it’s raw like the painting it tries to sketch with sounds instead of colors.
Liner Notes is where I’ll be blogging about my music. I’ll be writing about the stories behind the songs, my inspirations, and my upcoming projects. If there’s something you want to know about, just hit me up in the comments.