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At Your Funeral: My Morning Jacket – “One Big Holiday”

on April 17, 2011, 8:00am

My very first writing assignment for Consequence of Sound?  Choose the song you want played at your funeral.  Talk about D.O.A.  Heh heh.

Right. So I died and everyone’s miserable, and now it’s time to attend a ceremony intended to single-handedly celebrate the epic grandeur of my earthly existence while simultaneously lamenting the fact that I shall never set one gorgeous foot on said earth ever again (I’m dead, remember, so we will only be speaking of me as though I were the greatest person who ever lived). So, what we’re looking for here is a song that expresses a very particular blend of devastation, remembrance, inspiration and celebration—a catharsis of sorts.

Actually, this question was a lot easier to answer than I thought it would be. If I could pick just one song to play at my funeral, it would be “One Big Holiday” by my all-time favorite band, My Morning Jacket.  Preferably the live version from Okonokos.

No wait, is that too obvious?  Probably only to those who know me, and that’s a good thing, I think. A funeral song should attempt to achieve a degree of summation rather than surprise.  And what better way to sum up a well-lived life than “One Big Holiday?” Because isn’t that exactly what life should be, when it comes down to it? And shouldn’t my funeral be a national holiday anyway…?

MMJ’s songs throb with life. Their expertly-rendered osmosis of ecstasy and agony begets a sonic vitality that resonates in each explosive reprise, in every cavernous moment of stillness. Frontman Jim James’ haunting voice encompasses the full range of human experience, dipping and soaring through the decadently layered instrumentals like a slow-motion volcano.

“One Big Holiday” finds James’ intonations at their most raucous: A train-engine drumbeat crescendos into a pool of pealing guitars as James sings about the kind of simple, celebratory life we all yearn for.  It’s the life I hope to have lived good and well before a song about it becomes the soundtrack to my funeral.

Actually, you know what? I want MMJ to be at my goddamn funeral, performing Okonokos in its entirety. Hopefully, by this time, Jim James and I will be great friends and the whole crew will be there anyway. But if not, you know what, Jim?  I died.  It’s the least you could do.

And why stop there?  Let’s invite the Flaming Lips as well. Let’s do some sort of never-before-seen collaboration.  Wayne Coyne will bring his laser-beam hands and his giant transparent crowd-surfing ball.  I’ll be inside the ball—the luckiest corpse ever—somersaulting over the crowd like an oversized hamster.  Then they’ll hook me into a hot air balloon and send me off over an open field where everyone can stand watching as I float to the stars.  There will be costumed dancers and glittering confetti and fireworks spelling out my name. It will be the spectacle of the century. It will go viral on YouTube.  People will be jealous of how cool my funeral was.

Then, it will turn out that I’m not really dead after all. I’ll snap into consciousness, do a little dance, claw my way out of the ball, and parachute back down to earth.  Surprise!  I’m immortal. Let’s party.

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