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Death Sucks

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

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

Death Sucks

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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

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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.

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Down the Narrow

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