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.