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21st November 2016

Top 5: Songs About Death

With the death of Leonard Cohen, Jack Ashworth shows us the songs that have looked at the passage into ‘that great gig in the sky’ with more nuance

5) ‘Together Again’ – Janet Jackson

Ms. Jackson’s beautiful homage to a friend who had succumbed to AIDS was an instant hit – celebrating the possibility of reuniting in the after-life. The disco-laced anthem struck a chord with fans, and is a testament to the indestructability of love.

4) ‘Box of Rain’ – The Grateful Dead

A favourite amongst ‘Deadheads’, Bassist Phil Lesh’s tender lament to his dying father explores grief and loss in all its sincerity. A philosophical exploration of death, ‘Box of Rain’ packs a punch with its hauntingly poignant lyrics and its melancholy instrumentals.

3) ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’ – Blue Oyster Cult

Rock giants Blue Oyster Cult’s instantly recognizable classic refutes the fear and inevitability  of death as being meaningless when juxtaposed with the possibility of eternal love in the afterlife – when Buck Dharma sings “40,000 men win every day”, it’s hard not to see death as something transient.

2) ‘Do You Realize??” – The Flaming Lips

As much a celebration of life as it is homage to death – Wayne Coyne’s hauntingly beautiful ‘Do You Realize??’ deals with the finality of death, whilst also imploring the listener to celebrate life in all its multi-faceted beauty.

1) ‘Lazarus’ – David Bowie

No list on death would be complete without Bowie’s heart-wrenching self-epitaph. Contemplating his impending demise, Bowie explores death succinctly and irreverently – in a way only the brains behind some of Rock’s greatest tracks can. When he sings ‘Oh I’ll be free, Just like that bluebird/Oh I’ll be free, Ain’t that just like me’ it’s hard not to feel a little comfortable about our own mortality.

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