The Austin Chronicle

Vinyl Ashes

Your remains at 45 rpm?

Cremated by Raoul Hernandez, Austin Powell, and Audra Schroeder, December 31, 2010, Music

Brian Doom, alias of a dear friend's husband, sent out a short e-mail to our intimate music geek cell on August 31, 2010. It led with a URL ( and punch line: "Now the question – what song would it be?" Your cremated remains pressed into vinyl? As homegrown local tenor saxophonist Elias Haslanger comments herein, "Wow, the Internet never fails to amaze." Our tiny pod had a field day with the concept, adopting the 7-inch single format – an A-side and B-side to say so long. Diane, Brian's wife, singled out my favorite, Bruce Springsteen's "Cadillac Ranch," the famed Texan landmark. The Boss' roadhouse rocker begins cocky enough ("Well buddy when I die throw my body in the back/And drive me to the junkyard in my Cadillac"), but by the last verse he's not so sure: "Hey little girlie in the blue jeans so tight/Drivin' alone through the Wisconsin night/You're my last love baby you're my last chance/Don't let 'em take me to the Cadillac Ranch." We asked more than three dozen local musicians via e-mail to spin us their potential epitaphs – two songs, topside and flip side – because as my introductory memo posited, "This is for the last Chronicle of 2010 – end of the year, dead of winter." And winter kills, right? Don't let 'em take me to the Cadillac Ranch! – Raoul Hernandez

Scott H. Biram

That's a tough one. I'd probably go with "One Kind Favor" by Lightnin' Hopkins and "My Rough and Rowdy Ways" by Doc Watson. I'd also probably revise these song picks 25 times before I died. "One Kind Favor" is Lightnin's version of "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean" by Blind Lemon Jefferson. The title says it all, but the chorus is, "You know it's one kind favor I ask to you: See that my grave's kept clean." I picked Doc Watson because I've seen him play several times; I saw him and Merle Watson play the Armadillo when I was a kid. I've been listening to his music since I was little, so he's a big influence on my music and flat-picking. I picked "My Rough and Rowdy Ways" since I have a tendency to get a little wild sometimes.

Kara Bowers (aka KB the Boo Bonic)

A-side: "Momma's Song," K-Ci & JoJo

I feel incredibly weird coming to the realization that K-Ci & JoJo are part of how I'd want to be memorialized. I know my mom would be the one keeping the record, and although she rarely enjoyed me making her listen to 97.9 the Box when we lived in Houston, she loved when that song came on.

B-side: I would definitely sit down and write a joint especially for the B-side. That one would take a minute. Talk about pressure to make a dope track. Having a wack final testament would be a pretty epic fail as a rapper.

Andrew Brown (Focus Group, Soundfounder)

A-side: "Organ Donor (Extended Overhaul)," DJ Shadow

I first heard this song as a freshman in high school and it completely blew my mind. I wanted to know how one man could create such a complex composition single-handedly. This track led me to learn about (and eventually purchase) turntables and my first sampler. It started me on the path of music making that I'm still on today, 10 years later.

B-side: "Musical Chairs," Soundfounder

One of the first recordings I made as a young teen. It has a sample of me as a 6-year-old saying, "Hello, I'm Mister Andrew Brown!" from a tape in my Grandma's backyard in 1989 or '90 maybe. This track has a lot of sentimental value.

Slaid Cleaves

It seems a little self-indulgent, but, if it's for my loved ones to remember me by ... A-side: "Temporary," a song I wrote, or rather lifted from some tombstones, mostly. Sample line: "Live well and learn to die/Soon in the dust you'll lie/With everything you know." B-side: Bach's Mass in B minor (or at least the first kyrie eleison), because, for a while at least, I found it to be the one compelling argument for the existence of God.

Amy Cook

"Life's a Gas" by T. Rex and "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out" by the Smiths. Electric Warrior and The Queen Is Dead are two of my favorite albums, by two of my favorite artists. I was thinking about a Dylan tune, but in light of it being my ashes and whatnot, everything I chose seemed maudlin (although Dylan does have exceptional wit – clearly, it's me). "Life's a Gas" seemed perfect right away, with its spaced-out romantic nod to impermanence and futility. And "There Is a Light ..." is one of my very favorite songs ever. The melancholy and longing of Morrissey's lyrics, the epic melody, all leading to the last line, "There is a light that never goes out." All the way around, a beautiful sentiment.

Erik Conn (Tia Carrera, Vitamins)

A-side: "The Rain Song," Led Zeppelin

... only I'd use the live version from The Song Remains the Same. Plant's vocals aren't perfect, Bonham hits a rim (or loses a stick), but it's live and the emotion is so huge, which is largely why the song rules in the first place. Page's last little noodle at the end is so haunting yet pretty: "Upon us all a little rain must fall."

B-side: "Promenade"/"4th of July," U2

They're short and sweet, back-to-back on The Unforgettable Fire, and have always been intimate favorites of mine. Happy and sad at the same time, pleasantly mysterious, just like a celebration of life should be. "Up through spiral staircase to the higher ground."

Geoff Earle (Freshmillions)

A-side: "Iambic 5 Poetry," Squarepusher

B-side: "Strawberry Letter 23," Shuggie Otis

The idea of a jazz funeral is pretty awesome. If my A- and B-side could represent that, that'd be ideal. Like, the Squarepusher track is the dirge, and the Shuggie Otis is the happy song they play on the way back from the graveyard. That Squarepusher track is really one of the all-time greats. I'm not sure why exactly it is, but that track makes me feel almost sad. It's slow and in a minor key and I should probably be feeling sad when I listen to it, but it's just too damn good to be a downer. "Strawberry Letter 23," that's a crowd-pleaser. Again, bells are present. This one has a xylophone, I believe. I know the lyrics are, like, really cheesy, but I'm not too distracted by it.

Jason Gentry (the Ugly Beats)

A-side: "You Set the Scene," Love

It's the perfect combination of optimism and hope tempered with reality. Life is great but we're all gonna die (and that is okay).

B-side: "Walkin' in the Sunshine," Roger Miller

Sweet memories.

Robert Harrison (Future Clouds & Radar)

My ultimate fantasy, A-side, "Reach Out I'll be There" by the Four Tops, because not only is it one of the greatest pieces of music ever recorded, I also like the lyrical suggestion that I might be of eternal use ... to somebody. My B-side is the cincher! I'm going with David Bowie's "Quicksand," the demo from the Hunky Dory reissue. If I can presume that my death were the result of some heroic, selfless act, like for instance in the finale of A Prayer for Owen Meany, then that song would imbue my funeral and requisite film-life montage with such added poignancy that only a heartless bastard could refrain from weeping.

Elias Haslanger

Wow, the Internet never fails to amaze. I would pick A Love Supreme, John Coltrane's ultimate dedication to God and truly one of the most spiritual recordings I've ever heard and been inspired by. When I die, I hope to go wherever this music may take me – and I know it's a good place! Stevie Wonder's "Heaven Is 10 Zillion Light Years Away" would be the flip side, an amazing song with an amazing message.

Pat Healy (Pataphysics)

A-side: "Old Man Song," the Telephone Company

B-side: "Jesus, Grow a Handlebar Mustache for Me," Pataphysics

[The A-side] is a song I wrote with my friend Jason "Chef" Pittman about death. It was recorded for our children's music outfit, the Telephone Company, for our second full-length, Panda Brain!. In the "Old Man Song," we took pains to communicate with kids how death is not such a bad thing and a wonderful mystery. The reason I would include [the B-side] is because I want the afterlife to have lots of facial hair on it. I don't have the ability to grow facial hair very well. It says on the [And Vinyly] website that you get 12 minutes per each side. After each song, I would want to recite my last will and testament in a loud, booming voice. That way, my great-great-grandkids will believe that I was a powerful man.

Warren Hood

A-side: "Summertime," Joe Venuti

B-side: "Goin' Down Slow," Howlin' Wolf

My father first played this Venuti record for me when I was 12 and it was the beginning of the end of my classical career. It inspired me to do what I'm doing now. I picked Howlin' Wolf's "Goin' Down Slow" because it's about having no regrets when your time is up. He could be talking about sex, drugs, and rock & roll (and he is), but he could also be talking about sitting under a shady tree near a river with a cane pole and a guitar ... next to a pretty lady with a jug of moonshine. It's a song abut death that makes you smile.

Christopher Hrasky (Explosions in the Sky)

A-side: "Spiegel im Spiegel," Arvo Pärt

I guess this one is obvious in that it's somber and gentle and sad, but also beautiful and filled with hope. Whenever I listen to this piece I'm able to calm down a bit and put things in perspective, which is a pretty good thing since we're talking about death.

B-side: "Digital Love," Daft Punk

If my wife and I have a song, this would be it. I listen to this one a lot when I'm away from home and it always brings on the smiling kind of homesickness, if that makes any sense. Please play this on a loop at my funeral so everyone can dance.

Elizabeth Jackson (Darling New Neighbors)

A-side: "Lost in the Supermarket," the Clash

B-side: "Into the Nada," Karl Blau

These are dancey songs and I want to dance my way through the hereafter. I would rather not pay attention to the lyrics of the Clash song, but the groove I could take through eternity. "Into the Nada" has more afterlife relevance for me, letting go of fear and embracing disintegration, basically. Plus, it has the line, "Obviously today is what you've been waiting for, when you come waltzing naked through the door." That is just about the best type of death scene I can conceive of, even if that's not what he's talking about. It has both pathos and celebration.

Tim Kerr

A-side: "Impressions," John Coltrane

This always makes me smile and think of possibilities.

B-side: "Keep on Pushing," Curtis Mayfield & the Impressions

It's uplifting and the message says it all.

Randy Reynolds (aka Leatherbag)

"Shake 'Em On Down" b/w "Monkey Man," Jim Dickinson & the Katmandu Quartet, 1965

Jim Dickinson is important to me mainly for his production work with Alex Chilton, the Replacements, etc. His death in August 2009 caused me to further investigate his life in music. It led me to this incredible, wild, and amazing 45 as well as other things like Flash & the Memphis Casuals, Mud Boy & the Neutrons, the Jesters, and Tav Falco. Dickinson was also an incredible sideman and can be heard playing piano on "Wild Horses" by the Stones, with Aretha Franklin on the Spirit in the Dark album, and let us not forget his piano work on the incredible Randy Newman-penned tune by way of the Flamin' Groovies, "Have You Seen My Baby?"

Ginger Leigh

A-side: "What a Wonderful World," Louis Armstrong

B-side: "Wash Me Down," Sarah Dashew

I can remember as a child hearing "What a Wonderful World" and it would make me cry because I saw the beauty around me but also all the sadness in people. I've always said I want this song played at the celebration of the end of my life, so as to remind people how wonderful life actually is. I also chose "Wash Me Down" by Sarah Dashew. (It appears on a Ginger & Sarah Band CD, but it's Sarah's song.) She says: "When I am old, will I wear different colors? When I am old with old dreams. When I am old will I love everybody? When I am old will I see? Take me to the river, strip me of my skin. Take me to the water, wash me down in all my sins."

Jeff Lofton

I'd choose a 45 of Coltrane's A Love Supreme – "Acknowledgment" and "Resolu­tion." This is one of the more influential pieces of music ever recorded, and I've been greatly influenced by it as well. I remember the first time I heard "Resolution" and just wanting to be able to play like 'Trane. I spent a lot of time with A Love Supreme. A true honor it would be.

Jason McMaster

If I wanted to go out with songs I wrote: side A, "Undertaker," Broken Teeth, and side B, "Sport'n a Woody," Dangerous Toys. Why? A bit obvious, "Woody." The chorus says, "Sport'n a woody 'til the day I die!" [Someone else's songs:] side A, "Live Like an Angel (Die Like a Devil)" by Venom ("got a place in hell reserved for me"). Side B, "Better Off Dead," by Elton John, from Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, a great record. He had that and Rock of the Westies that same year, 1975.

Eve Monsees (Eve & the Exiles)

A-side: "Boo Hoo," Marvin Rainwater

The repeated lines "So boo hoo, boo hoo, boo hoo, my baby done gone" seem appropriate. But this song always makes me smile. Maybe because it's upbeat, maybe it's because he sounds like he just swallowed a switchblade.

B-side: "I Had My Fun," Little Walter

Little Walter is one of my favorites; very influential when I first started playing guitar. The title of this one alone seems like it would be a nice thing to have pasted on a memorial slab of vinyl and ashes. This has become a conversation topic up here at Antone's Record Shop. Mike Buck's picks: "Big Balls in Cowtown" by Bob Wills b/w "You Ain't Gonna Have Ol' Buck To Kick Around No More" by Buck Owens.

Dave Norwood (the Gary)

A-side: "Domesticia," Peter Jefferies

This is a song I sing to myself when I'm nervous, bored, ecstatic, or involved. I used to sing it to my daughter while trying to get her to sleep. I'm not sure what this song says about me, but it has been a song for all occasions, ever since I first heard The Last Great Challenge in a Dull World.

B-side: "Are You Experienced?," Jimi Hendrix

I've heard this song all throughout my life, from the womb to the present day. My dad is a Hendrix fan. It reveals itself in different ways, during different stages of my life. It was scary when I was a child, trippy when I was a teenager, nostalgic when I was in my 20s, religious while in my 30s, and now it just moves me to tears.

Gian Ortiz (Amplified Heat)

Option A: I feel like at this point I've recorded enough of my own stuff to choose two Amplified Heat songs, or I can go with these two songs: "Rain" by the Beatles because I'm a huge Beatles fan, and that's been one of my all-time favorites for as long as I can remember. That powerful bassline, and the drums, the sound – incredible! Side B would probably be James Brown's "Get It Together" from his Boston Garden performance in 1968. It gets you movin' and groovin', and when I go, I hope I can still be part of people shakin' their shit, especially the ladies!

Ray Pride (the Crack Pipes)

A-side: "It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)," Bob Dylan

B-side: "It's OK," Dead Moon

Side A is a song that really sums up my worldview, touching on commercialization and mortality, all set to a driving guitar riff and filled with unforgettable beat imagery. Side B is great garage rock, which I love, and is both old style and new school. The lyrics are informed with wisdom that comes with age about a world that is crazy, unpredictable, and overwhelming but in the end that's okay.

Adrian Quesada (Grupo Fantasma, Brownout)

A-side: "Dogs," Pink Floyd

Do 20 minutes fit on a 45? My philosophy is usually less is more, but not when it comes to Pink Floyd's Animals. More bang for your buck on my 45 as you get almost 20 minutes on side A and damn if this music wouldn't make a psyched-out entrance into the afterlife. The first notes of the guitar solo get me making stupid-ass emotional expressions every time.

B-side: "Esclavo y Amo," Los Pasteles Verdes

Pretty obscure tune but a super psychedelic take on an old bolero (ballad) by these Peruvian heroes. Maybe a little melodramatic, but it's pretty gut-wrenching, plus if you get this 45 you probably already have some party music in your crates. Put this on, kick back, and drink a single malt scotch for me.

Trey Ramirez (Pack of Wolves)

I'm going to have to go with "Here I Go Again" by Whitesnake, and then for my familia, "Sleep Walk" by Santo & Johnny, just like in La Bamba. We should be so lucky.

Graham Reynolds

For a pair of formative songs, I'd choose two of these three: age 6, John Williams' "Cantina Band"; age 12, Prince's "When Doves Cry"; or age 16, Fugazi's "Waiting Room." If I wanted to choose two things I could listen to for all eternity: Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" and Coltrane's A Love Supreme. If I wanted to go for beauty (and wet eyes at my funeral): Harold Arlen's "Over the Rainbow" and Merle Haggard's "Silver Wings." But really, I could just go with Prokofiev's "Vision Fugitives" and be done with it.

Sheila Scoville (No Mas Bodas)

A-side: "It's Raining Today," Scott Walker

This song is the ultimate tearjerker, evoking loss with a lonely traveler who sees a mirage of his lost lover on a rain-drenched train platform. No singer can better convey the fleeting nature of people's relationships and life itself.

B-side: "Space Is the Place," Sun Ra

The joyous saga continues: We will break Earth's death curse and travel the intergalactic highways tasting extraterrestrial fruit trays and touring outer space.

Kyle Shutt (the Sword)

A-side: "A National Acrobat," Black Sabbath

There's a lot to this song, part psychedelic space opera, part cautionary tale, and enough riffs to choke a horse. Sometimes I feel like I've lived 1,000 times and I can't wait to see what the other side has to offer.

B-side: "I Sang Dixie," Dwight Yoakam

This song's always touched me. It's just a dirge about a man who drank too much and longs for a simpler time. I couldn't think of a better tune to go out on.

Jesse Sublett (the Skunks)

"Earthquake Shake" as the A-side since it's actually the first song of mine that was released, as a 45, by the way, and actually the second song I ever wrote, and still a pretty good song (which has been covered by at least three other bands that I know of, including one in France and one in Kansas). For the B-side I think I'll go with my cover of "St. James Infirmary" because it's one of my favorites, it's about death, and because I think I do a pretty fair rendition, if I say so myself. I hope the release date isn't any time soon.

Tee Double

[The A-side] would be "Lost Scriptures" off my first EP, Lost Scriptures [1999], because it's my first national release and I covered hot topics for indie artists even then – publishing, owning music, and being forward with art. [The B-side] would be "Something Beautiful" off [2001's] Eighth Principle because, hey, I'm a lover not a biter and the artform of the hip-hop love song has been lost by all the booty-shaking, thong-wearing, nasty, wouldn't-say-that-around-yo-mama songs.

Greg Vanderpool (Monahans)

Wow. Can't say that I would opt for that particular fate, but aside from the obvious (Dead or Alive "You spin me round like a record baby," David Bowie's "Ashes to Ashes," or any Keith Richards tune) I'd have to choose "Bad" by U2 because it's my favorite rock song and just such a great emotional release, and "Peelin' Out in Zeus' Yard" by Lil' Cap'n Travis, just because.

TJ Wade (Foot Patrol)

A-side: "Brand New Funk," DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince

The song that turned me on to hip-hop altogether. It showed me how to become a human jukebox and from there I learned how to rhyme.

B-side: "In the Lap of the Gods," Queen

I picked this song not only because it's one of my favorites, but because listening to Queen's music always made me feel free inside after I had my dose of hip-hop each of my days as a kid and teenager. Plus, for me, it's the perfect afterlife song.

Malcolm "Papa Mali" Welbourne (7 Walkers)

A-side: "In My Room," the Beach Boys

The first record I bought with my own money was the Surfer Girl LP by the Beach Boys. The year was 1964 and I was 7. My older sister Donna had just started college – this meant that for the first time I had my very own room. That evening, I put on my new record. When "In My Room" came on, I felt as if they were singing that song just for me.

B-side: "You Can't Always Get What You Want," the Rolling Stones

Besides the title and other obvious reasons why this is a great "epitaph" selection, it's the darkness that balances out the light of the A-side. When this song hit the scene, the pure and wholesome spirituality of "In My Room" became a thing of the past and things would never be the same again for me or anyone else.

Erika Wennerstrom (Heartless Bastards)

A-side: "Dead Flowers," the Rolling Stones

B-side: "Back in Black," AC/DC

Bobby Whitlock (Derek & the Dominos)

A-side: "Got To Get Better in a Little While," [Derek & the Dominos], because it always does.

B-side: "All Things Must Pass," [George Harrison], because they always do.

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