Exclusive Features
Anniversaries, Cover Stories, Editorials,
Interviews, Lists, and Comprehensive Rankings

At Your Funeral: Sigur Rós – "Untitled #3 ‘Samskeyti’"

on January 16, 2011, 8:00am

I’ve been to quite a few funerals and memorials; those of family members, family friends, even classmates. I’ve heard songs played at them ranging from a piano rendition of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”(which wasn’t a surprising choice at all, but a tear jerker nonetheless) to “I Will Remember You” by Sarah McLachlan. That last one was played at my high school, right after one of our classmates passed away, and, as a result, a fraction of the auditorium had to leave halfway through. Now, I’ve never given thought to what song I’d like to be played at my funeral, let alone thoughts about my funeral at all, as I’m still pretty young, but I do know that I don’t want it to be a weep-a-thon to the point where people need to get up and leave to regain their composure. I mean no disrespect, because I completely understood the opposite choice, I just personally disagree. Sarah McLachlan’s lyrics were more than enough to send everyone into despair about losing and remembering a loved one. In fact, I don’t want the song played at my funeral to have any lyrics at all. I don’t want people to be obligated to think about something the lyrics are telling them to think about.

Although I had given this no prior thought, when I was given the choice to pick any song for my funeral and write about it, I knew right away what I wanted. I wanted it to be enough for those attending to sit and remember me without telling them “I will remember you, you will remember me” and so on. (No offense, Sarah). It needed to be beautiful and light enough for them to reminisce about the wonderful times, but enough to make them accept that I am gone. That is why I chose Sigur Rós’ “Untitled #3 ‘Samskeyti’”.

I first heard Sigur Rós when I was in eighth grade, and I’ve grown up listening to them all the way up to now, my second year in college. Sigur Rós is the band I give credit to for opening up my mind to new music. When I was in eighth grade I figured that if I could like a band from Iceland whose lyrics I couldn’t even understand, then there must be a whole lot out there that I’m missing. One of the first songs I heard by them was “Untitled #3 ‘Samskeyti’” off of their 2002 album, ( ). To this day, I still believe it to be their most beautiful song, which, as anyone who listens to Sigur Rós can attest to, is a challenging statement. The song has stuck with me, and I cannot think of a better way to end the documentary of my life than with the most beautiful song by my favorite band.

“Untitled #3 ‘Samskeyti’” has already proven to be an ideal finale to me. Naturally, I excitedly bought the band’s documentary, Heima, which follows Sigur Rós all around their home country as they play free shows in numerous cities, some with little to no audience, and some with audiences spanning for what seemed like a mile. Though I enjoyed every performance in the documentary and was extremely impressed, I couldn’t help hoping they’d perform my favorite song. Just as I was formulating that wish, the ending credits started, and miraculously, so did “Untitled #3”. The ending of the documentary shows the band playing in a small, dim, candle-lit room playing “Samskeyti” just as beautifully, if not more beautifully, than on the album itself. I remember lying in bed, listening, and watching, even crying because of the beauty coming from my television and speakers. The perfect finale indeed. Sure, it’s morbid to say that it would be a beautiful finale for my life, but it is my choice, isn’t it?

Before I finish up, you might be wondering what “samskeyti” means, since it is part of the song’s title. Samskeyti is Icelandic for “attachment”. We’ve come to understand that funerals are part of the grieving process. They’re a way to come to terms with the death of a person and help us let go. To me, the song’s title itself serves a purpose. It speaks for the non- existent lyrics of the song. When the song is concluded, it is time to detach what was once attached. It is time to let go.