Cell Phones at Funerals

I just returned from my father-in-law’s funeral. I’ve blogged a lot about death recently, so I wanted to do something more upbeat. Here goes:

As the prayer at Grandpa’s funeral was being said, someone’s very loud cell phone went off. It had a catchy song for its ringtone–something like “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.” I was on the stand (the funeral took place in a mortuary), and it sounded like the cell phone’s “ring” was coming from INSIDE the coffin. “Hmmm,” thought I, “what a great idea! I’m doing that when I die. I will arrange for a cell phone to go off at some crucial moment and play something completely weird. I will need someone to be complicit in this, of course. Surely Steve Evans would oblidge. DKL would probably do it even if I didn’t ask him to. But the question is, what song?


  • “You Look Wonderful Tonight” (Clapton)
  • “Don’t Fear the Reaper”
  • “I Feel Pretty”
  • “Got to Admit, It’s Gettin’ Better-(Couldn’t Get Much Worse)” -Beatles
  • “The Long and Winding Road”


Also, I want ONLY Funeral Potatoes at my funeral, and I want a competition. The maker of the best funeral potatoes gets to take home a floral arrangement. I also want karaoke.

For more suggestions on Mormon funerals, see Ann Cannon’s “And Now for a Little Mormon Humor.”


  1. Magic Carpet Ride! (Steppenwolf)
    Stairway to Heaven (Led).
    Ticket to Ride (Beatles).
    Real Real Gone (Van Morrison).

    Preferably a laser show as well.

  2. Margaret,

    I’m partial to Blue Oyster Cult…and the cowbell, so “Don’t Fear the Reaper” gets my vote. Btw, a suggestion- gotta have more cowbell in the coffin!

    Also, try this link for more death song ideas: http://clippernolan.wordpress.com/2008/02/11/10-songs-about-death/. There are some good ones!

    My wife’s friend makes some kick a$$ funeral potatoes. I have already made it known that my wife’s friend is to cater my funeral.

    I’m not so sure DKL would place a cell phone in your coffin. Look for the Chippendale dancers instead. That seems more his style.

  3. Steve–how did I leave out “Stairway to Heaven”???
    Brian, I love the link. I’ll start taking notes ASAP. I would be happy to have your wife’s friend join the funeral potato competition.

  4. Margaret,

    If you plan on coming to AZ anytime soon, email me beforehand and I will arrange a tasting party of her potatoes.

  5. Give Said the Little Stream.


  6. Mark B. says:
  7. D.O.A.
    PS: Wanted to say good post!

  8. Scott B says:

    1. They Might Be Giants’ “Exquisite Dead Guy”
    2. Beck’s “Loser”
    3. Queen’s “Another One Bite’s the Dust”

  9. Great suggestions!
    Since I yet again screwed up the link in my post, here is the snippet from Ann’s essay relating to funerals:
    I do hereby declare my desire for the good old-fashioned Mormon funeral of my Utah County youth. First, let there be food-lots of it-so that family and friends who drive long distances can be assured of a fine, fortifying meal in the cultural hall after my funeral is over. Let the good sisters of our Relief Society presidency assign everyone in the ward to bring a dish-tater tot casseroles and green bean casseroles and chicken-tichin’ casseroles and
    every other casserole ever invented that has Campbell’s Soup as a primary ingredient. And let there be Jell-0, too.
    jell-0 with little marshmallows and Jell-0 salad with fruit cocktail and most especially that monument to gelatin engineering, – which takes no less than twenty four hours to make, rainbow jell-0 Salad! Let there also be musical numbers, the neighbor lady with the imperfect but sincere soprano voice singing my favorite hymn, the ‘primary children, sweet and silly, singing my favorite Primary song. And finally let there be anecdotes-oh, yes, let there be anecdotes-the funnier the better; after which please arrange for the Salt Lake Scots to follow the caisson bearing my casket to the cemetery.
    (Author’s note: I realize that, strictly speaking, bagpipes are not a part of traditional Mormon funerals. They do, howevel; appeal to my sense of the dramatic.) Remember to bury me deep, then place a tombstone at my head which reads, “Here lies Ann Edwards Cannon. She did as she damn well pleased.”

  10. Mark B. says:

    Who is that other “Mark B.”

    It ain’t me. And does he really remember that awful song, or is he just playing copycat?

  11. Great idea Margaret!

    I’m picturing my funeral opening with the theme song from Star Trek TOS, with James T. Kirk’s voice over, “Space, the final frontier. . . ”

    A brass band at various times in the funeral playing a montage of theme songs from: Bewitched, I Dream of Jennie, the Munsters, Adams Family, Gillagans Island, etc.

    Then, the theme from Buffy playing as they lower my cold dead body into the grave.

    If they serve funeral potatoes I will rise up with fangs and bite their necks.

  12. At my former employer’s funeral, not LDS, they had some appropriate funeral music set up on a cd player. For some reason, when they turned it on it played Frank Sinatra singing “I Did It My Way”. There was a profound silence and then everyone burst out laughing because it was such a perfect tribute to Jerry Lee.

  13. Colin C says:

    I’ve always told my family that I want the congregation to sing “Once There Was a Snowman” at my funeral- with actions!

  14. iguacufalls says:

    Don’t Pay the Ferryman – Chris DeBurgh

  15. iguacufalls says:

    or you could have a recording of someone with a deep voice reading “Do not go gently into that dark night”

    or how about Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”

  16. Alpha Echo says:

    How about Mozart’s Requiem?

  17. Walk Like an Egyptian?

    At my very non-Mormon father’s viewing I put together a Jack Johnson and John Prine Medley (though we left off “Please Don’t Bury Me” at my aunt’s request) during the viewing and no one thought it was weird. Then again the bluegrass band that showed to pay a tribute played “The Hokey Pokey” so perhaps this wasn’t a typical memorial crowd.

  18. I love the idea of “Another One Bites the Dust”.

    Given your work right now, I suggest “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” by Avenue Q.

    Fro a serious suggestion, “I’ll Follow You Into the Dark” by Death Cab for Cutie

  19. “Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox When I Die”

  20. I’ve Seen Better Days – Citizen King

  21. Lindsay says:

    “Don’t Feat the Reaper” or “Another One Bites the Dust,” please. Very appropriate for the occasion.

  22. “Should I Stay or Should I Go” Clash
    “Wanted Dead or Alive” Bon Jovi
    “Just a Song Before I Go” Crosby Stills and Nash
    “Already Gone” Eagles
    “Knockin on Heaven’s Door” Eric Clapton

    and especially for you Margaret:
    “Lookin Good and Feeling Georgeous” RuPaul

  23. Excellent post, Margaret. I like the idea of a cell phone going off. My suggestions:


    And, if you’re in the mood for a really sad one:

    iguacu: I think you mean: Do not go gentle into that good night. See here:

  24. Margaret, getting buried with electronic gadgets is one of the newest trends. I found this article to be fascinating.


  25. amandamae says:

    When my grandfather passed away (a temple sealer) he gave the closing remarks at his own funeral – he recorded a tape some time in the 80’s that we played. It was absolutely wonderful. At the end he requested his daughters play Bette Midler’s “The Rose.”

  26. Kevin Barney says:

    I’m with Ann. I like the older style of Mormon funerals, and I disagree with the idea that funerals should be all about doctrinal exposition and not about the deceased.

  27. I agree Ann and Kevin. I am going have a graveside service when the time comes. Short n’ sweet all about me.

  28. Left Field says:

    I say if bagpipes are good enough for the funeral of David Oman McKay, prophet, seer, and revelator, they’re good enough for anybody.

  29. My son recommended the following:

    “Celebration” – Kool and the Gang

    “Died In Your Arms Tonight” – Cutting Crew

    “You’re As Cold As Ice” – Foreigner

    “Goodbye Earl” – Dixie Chicks

  30. Patrick says:

    Left Field: …and Gordon Bitner Hinckley, too (bagpipes, that is).

  31. Flight of the Bumblebee, on the ACCORDIAN.
    Followed up with Dark Side of the Moon…
    Then Knocking on Heaven’s Door, Dylan and The Dead version.

    Then, for good measure, bagpipes. Just because I like ’em.

  32. Free Bird.

  33. Tracy M: Accordian music, what an idea! My in-law plays a Hie to Kolob on the accordian. That song is never the same after hearing it poka style.

  34. Floyd the Wonderdog says:

    Somebody’s cell went off during a recent disciplinary council. Awkward.

    If ya got um, shut’um off.

  35. You could open with Girlfriend in a Coma from the Smiths

  36. Being the jokester that I am, I plan to make a recording of myself yelling, “LET ME OUTTA HERE!!” On the enf of a 30 minute cassette and having on of my brothers slip it in the casket and pressing play as they close the casket so that I’ll start telling that part way through the service. My poor wife.

  37. Antonio Parr says:

    No choice other than “The Place I am Bound” by Bob Bennett:

    As my father before me and so now I
    Give pause to reflect on the day I will die
    As they lay me down in the cold of the ground
    Remember I am closer
    To the place I am bound

    A few final words will be spoken, I trust
    Be as kind as you can and lie if you must
    And remember me when I was at my best
    Instead of used up, lying with flowers on my chest

    Sometimes death is like a thief in the night
    It steals every treasure that is hidden in plain sight
    But I do not flatter my own memory
    For I will miss you every bit as much as you’ll be missing me

    I wish I could be there to brighten the mood
    With friends and family and mountains of food
    And stories and memories and tales all around
    But it’s late and I must travel
    To the place I am bound

    And I hope that the spirit of the Lord will not mind
    If you toast me with spirits of the Irish kind
    And raise your glasses as the blessing is said
    “May you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows your dead!”

  38. Matt W. says:

    mojo nixon:
    “You can’t kill me, I will not die”


  39. Michael says:

    I’ve made it clear to my wife that if I kick the bucket, she’d better hold the funeral at the City Museum in St. Louis. It’s an old shoe factory, the original home of Red Goose shoes. The current owner comes from family business of architectural concrete. Most of the museum has been decked out with caves, tunnels, crawl tubes, slides, ramps, and other stuff that’s been salvaged from various factories and other locations. There’s a jungle gym in front – it’s five stories high and incorporates two airplanes, a firetruck, a dodgeball cage-match pit, and an old church tower complete with gargoyles. After the funeral, everybody should go play with their kids.

    I was at a funeral here a while ago (non-LDS) and the ringtone that went off behind me was called “I Ain’t Got No Panties”. The funeral was for a 16 year-old boy, so I don’t think he would have minded much.

    At another funeral (8-year old daughter of a co-worker), an uncle played a jazz rendition of “Amazing Grace” on the trombone, complete with drum set, string bass, and piano. It had been the favorite of the little girl. There was a cell phone going off at that funeral too, but the song was the main theme from “Lord of the Rings”.

    Non-LDS funerals here in the midwest seem to be like testimony meeting – they have a few opening remarks, and then open the microphone. With the LDS funerals here, they seem to think they’ve wasted an opportunity unless they can get the first two missionary discussions in, complete with the full-time Elders passing out copies of the Book of Mormon on the way out. Not sure I like the trend.

  40. Thanks for these very cool ideas, all.
    Time for Conference.

  41. StillConfused says:

    My song will be “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone”. Then perhaps the lights go out. Or maybe that is pushing it.

  42. Great post! How’d I miss this?!?!

    Of course, I’d be happy to oblige!

    I think you should be something startling, like the Dies Irea (sp? I’m on my iPhone — I intend the Latin name for the second major part of the mass) from Verdi’s Requiem — like the Karajan version which is very heavy and intense sounding.

  43. My friend says he wants the “song” Popcorn played at his funeral. He’s considering writing it into his will.

  44. On a more purely humorous note (since the Dias irea from Verdi’s Requiem is funny because it’s really, really not humorous sounding), I think that the following would work in terms of being apropos:

    1. Lust for Life (Iggy Pop)
    2. Where Is My Mind? (The Pixies)
    3. I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead (Warren Zevon)
    4. Spirit in the Sky (Norman Greenbaum)
    5. Hell’s Bells (AC/DC)
    6. Happy Trails (Van Halen)

    And, good ones if you’re looking for a total non sequitur:

    7. I Touch Myself (diVynals)
    8. Good Girls Don’t (The Knack)
    9. Happiness Is a Warm Gun (The Beatles)
    10. Alabama Song (The Doors)

  45. – November Rain (Guns and Roses)
    – Come Back to Texas (Bowling for Soup)
    – Time of your Life (Green Day)
    – Small Things (Blink 182)

    My 11yo pro-environment daughter wants Rush’s “Trees” sung at hers.

  46. Elphaba says:

    Just for funny, when my BIL passed, I changed my ringtone to Stairway to Heaven. He would have loved it. Plenty of other people thought it was in poor taste, (They must have forgotten who we were burying because tasteless and seasonal ringtones were his speciality) so I changed it to O My Father. snicker.

  47. sharing a song says:

    ~”Give Me One More Night” (from the 80s) can ‘t think of who the singer is..lyrics: “give me one more night, just one more night..”

    They played that song over our hs loudspeaker on the eve of the graduation of the senior class. Would work here too.

    ~ Another idea might be “Memories” (from Cats)

    ~ another idea would be “So Long, Farewell” played during the time when the casket and the deceased are “leaving” the chapel.

    I’m not using my normal name here though I don’t participate a lot as someone in my ward recently passed away. So out of respect for this person’s family, just in the remote chance someone from my ward figured out who I was, will not use my usual name.

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