NPR logo
Death Sucks
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/128823601/128820494" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Mark Bates: Sing A Song Of Uncle Freddy's Funeral

Mark Bates: Sing A Song Of Uncle Freddy's Funeral

Death Sucks
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/128823601/128820494" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Mark Bates i

A death in the family inspires Mark Bates to come up with his own plan: "Skip all that, throw me off a hill." courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption courtesy of the artist
Mark Bates

A death in the family inspires Mark Bates to come up with his own plan: "Skip all that, throw me off a hill."

courtesy of the artist

Wednesday's Pick

  • Song: "Death Sucks"
  • Artist: Mark Bates
  • CD: Down the Narrow
  • Genre: Jazz/Soul

The story of the funeral in "Death Sucks" is true; only the name of the deceased has been changed. Singer Mark Bates opted for a fake name ("Uncle Freddy") to protect the privacy of the dearly departed, but otherwise, his composition offers an honest and darkly funny account of his day at a close relation's funeral. The air is hot, everything is heavy, he had "no idea what the hell I was doing," an aunt got drunk — "wish that I had thought of that," he sings. The funeral inspires Bates to come up with his own post-death plan: "Skip all that, throw me off a hill."

It's hard to argue with Bates' sentiment, or with his keen musicality. The drums conjure up a New Orleans death march, the strumming banjo brings to mind the sound of long ago and far away, and the horns alternate between mournful and joyous, all adding up to a mix of emotions familiar to many a funeral-goer. Bates plays the trumpet (his college major) and sings in his rough-and-tumble, 22-year-old voice, bewildered by the mortality of humans. Yet this isn't a sorrowful song: The music comes to a halt, but then the music kicks up again with a bouncy instrumental outro — a reminder that, while death sucks, life goes on.

Purchase Featured Music

Down the Narrow

Purchase Music

Buy Featured Music

Album
Down the Narrow
Artist
Mark Bates

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?

 

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.