Songs to Die to
Whether you want to go out in a fiery explosion or peacefully in your sleep, you might have thought about having some tunes playing. Here are ours.
William Basinski - "dlp 1.1"
If William Basinski’s Disintegration Loops were the last thing I heard before dying, I would certainly have a lot of time to ruminate; the main track “dlp 1.1” lasts a little over an hour. It consists of a brief horn loop that repeats a few hundred times over the course of the track’s runtime. The beautiful thing about it is that the tape loop is gradually disintegrating during this time and I can’t think of a better sonic metaphor for the slow onset of death. I like to imagine that this is playing while I’m in the hospital after sustaining fatal injuries from an ill-advised hot-air balloon excursion, circa age 75. I ask the nurse to put this on as I take my last breaths, thinking about my life while this decaying tape loop plays in the background. By the end, I’m close to my final moments and all that’s left of the track is a sputtering, crumbling remnant of the track’s initial content. Then I say peace out.
Curve - "Perish"
This is probably one of my favorite songs I've ever heard... It wrecks me. It's lyrics really speak to this week's theme: "Surely our souls will perish / Surely, surely, surely, surely, surely, surely".
Watsky - "Conversations"
George Watsky, most likely my favorite lyricist and rapper I've ever listened to, delivers this heart-wrenching song off his 4th studio album x Infinity about the impermanence of life. Accompanied by pretty piano riffs, Watsky discusses two big conversations he's had in his life with his father about similar subjects. He raps his first conversation about how as a nine-year-old, he asked his father, "What happens after we die?". The second conversation occurs 20 years later, as now Watsky has to talk to his elderly dad about writing his will, where he wants to be buried, and other trivial things about moving on after he passes away. The whole song includes Watsky's existential stream of consciousness as he narrates the struggle within his mind concerning life after death and what loss really means. Yet the song still preaches an uplifting message about staying positive and living life to the fullest, as Watsky reminds us, death "isn't for a long, long, time"...
The National - "Bloodbuzz Ohio"
One of my all time favorite dad bands, The National constantly churns out songs that make you confront the dark side of life. The track “Bloodbuzz Ohio” from their 2010 album High Violet is a triumph of existential dread. The surrealist lyrics about bees and midwestern states are the perfect slate on which to project your own contemplations of death. Forlorn trumpets at the end feel like a sort of swan song, pushing you closer and closer to the edge of existence. It’s love, and loss, and debt, and drunkenness; making the perfect soundtrack for slipping into oblivion.
Modest Mouse - "Edit the Sad Parts"
Over the summer, I would listen to "Interstate 8" a lot while driving to work because the length of the album was the same as my commute. There was one day it was raining heavily and I couldn't see the road and I got into an accident and the first thing I thought was "If I die right now, this is a perfectly ok song to die to."
Nine Inch Hails - "Ghosts I-1"
NIN's Ghosts is a 36-track experimental saga of an album, and "Ghosts L-1" is probably my favorite song. There's something deeply sorrowful in this piece, but in a kind of detached way. It makes you feel like you're floating (buoyant on that slowly-rising synth choir) in some massive and empty darkness. It makes you feel cold. Trent Reznor says that Ghosts is "a soundtrack for daydreams," but I personally find that Ghosts L-1 is less like a daydream and more like a death — a gentle transitioning into death, a loss of corporeality, the acceptance of a ghost.
The Antlers - "Epilogue"
My uncle once said this album sounded like the music angsty kids play when they kill themselves. If I had to go it might as well be to a sadboi anthem, right?
DeVotchKa - "How It Ends"
Catharsis: noun. the process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions.
Blondie - "Call me"
Only if I get murdered in the woods while this song plays muffled from a house party in the distance