Musical send-offs rock funerals

MICHELLE ROBINSON
Last updated 05:00 21/10/2012
Bette Midler
Getty Images
SAY GOODBYE: Bette Midler's Wind Beneath My Wings is one favourite.

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When it comes to your funeral which song best sums up your life?

Did you do it your way, or was someone else the wind beneath your wings?

Funerals are no longer a sombre affair, with a trend towards personalised, secular services seeing people opt for their favourite pop hits to send them off.

Frank Sinatra's My Way and Bette Midler's Wind Beneath My Wings are reaching the popularity of traditional funeral hymns How Great Thou Art and The Lord is My Shepherd.

But there is also an increasingly light-hearted approach being taken to the send off. Numbers by Pink Floyd, AC/DC, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sublime, Foo Fighters and Sex Pistols are increasingly being heard at funerals.

The trend comes as family members take more of a hand in organising ceremonies, said Wade Downey, manager of Dil's Funeral Services in Auckland.

"People arranging funerals choose music that matters to them, rather than the person who died.

"The grandchild organising the funeral will choose music which means something to them."

The make-up of funerals is also relaxing. Black is out and colourful clothing, personalised caskets and decorations, and overseas relatives joining in via online video chat are commonplace at Kiwi ceremonies.

"If people want to do something and it's legal, then that's all well and good," Downey said.

Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman's Time to Say Goodbye is the top song of choice at Ninness Funeral Homes in Wellington.

Cheeky numbers such as Queen's Another One Bites the Dust are also up there, with pop songs outnumbering hymns 70 to 30, funeral director William Nobelen said.

"It's across the board, we're seeing a more light-hearted approach."

Johnny Cash's Ring of Fire is a favourite for cremations. And Monty Python's Always Look on the Bright Side of Life is cropping up more, as is Queen's Want to Break Free.

"People enjoy it, without a doubt," Nobelen said.

"They want the funeral to be more relaxed."

Further south, Pretty Woman by Roy Orbison is among favourites in Central Otago.

"It depends on the person and their age," Affinity Funerals director Janice Millis said. "Songs from the 1970s and 80s are coming through a lot."

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