Humans are animals, of course; but unlike other animals, humans know they’re going to die. And a lot of them are not happy about it. Various ways of achieving immortality have been tried. These include:
- freezing your head
- falling in love with an immortal (eg Cupid) and then getting one of the other gods to give you some ambrosia to drink
- murdering somebody really famous that lots of people like
- asking your lover to paint you, or write a poem or a song about you.
Not all of these are very good ideas. Here are some others that are addressed in this week’s playlist.
1. Reincarnation: this features in several world religions, but the good thing about the highwaymen’s approach, in Highwayman, is that you don’t need to have lived a particularly virtuous life in order to qualify. Even highwaymen can do it.
2. Your artform goes on without you: in spite of saying, “it’s better to burn out than it is to rust”, Neil Young still thinks that "rock’n’roll is here to stay". (Although it could be that rhyming with My My Hey Hey has something to do with it.)
3. Consolation prize: Karine Polwart tells her daughter that the planet will survive, and Rivers Run, even though humans may die out. I’m not sure this would be very comforting to a small child, though I certainly hope she’s right.
4. Just be eternal, archaeologically speaking. That way, like Julian Cope, you can have a whole second career. I Have Always Been Here Before? Of course you have, Julian.
5. Decide you’re going to live for ever, and then do it, whether that’s with heaven (We’re Going To Live For A Very Long Time) or without (No End To Me).
6. The Judaeo-Christian tradition: here, so long as you live a good life, you can go to heaven and be Leaning On The Everlasting Arms in a place Where The Soul Never Dies. Added bonus: your loved ones will be there too, as long as they’ve lived as good a life as you have.
7. Promises: this generally takes the form of promising your love will last for ever. Not to be entered into without careful thought, unless you are a very good clairvoyant (or have access to one). Retribution, if/when the promised Eternal Love doesn’t materialise, can get very nasty indeed.
8. Hopes: this is a lot safer. When Bob Dylan says “May you stay Forever Young” he is not implying there will be input from himself, and can therefore not be blamed if it doesn’t happen.
9. Becoming a vampire: this is an interesting idea, though you would of course have to be careful to avoid sunlight and pointy sticks. Plus, If We Were Vampires, where would the blood come from for us to drink? Would we have to go round killing humans? That would be rather unfair.
10. Scientific advances: a cure for death has been found and everybody now lives for ever. Sounds good, but listen to the words to Still Life before you make up your mind. And be careful what you wish for.
Everlasting A-list Playlist:
1. Highwayman – The Highwaymen
2. My My, Hey Hey – Neil Young
3. Rivers Run – Karine Polwart
4. I Have Always Been Here Before – Julian Cope
5. We’re Going To Live For A Very Long Time – Heaven 17
6. No End To Me – Cadaver Club
7. Leaning On The Everlasting Arms – Mahalia Jackson
8. Where The Soul Never Dies – Hank Williams
9. Eternal Love – Delano Stewart
10. Forever Young – Bob Dylan
11. If We Were Vampires – Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
12. Still Life – Van Der Graaf Generator
Gone But Never Forgotten B-list Playlist:
1. Blackstar – David Bowie
2. The Man Who Lives Forever – Lord Huron
3. Dixie Drug Store – Grant Lee Buffalo
4. Troy – Sinead O’Connor
5. Halfway There – Slapp Happy
6. Playing In The Band – The Grateful Dead
7. Older Than My Old Man Now – Loudon Wainwright III
8. Eternal Flame – The Bangles
9. Live Forever – The Dirty Guv’nahs
10. Eternally – Sarah Vaughan
11. Nosferatu Man – Slint
12. I Have The Moon – The Magnetic Fields
Guru's Wildcard Pick:
John The Gun by Sandy Denny. He’s immortal, you know.
These playlists were inspired by readers' song nominations from last week's topic: Float this idea: songs about immortality and longevity. The next topic will launch on Thursday at 1pm UK time.
New to comment? It is quick and easy. You just need to login to Disqus once. All is explained in About/FAQs ...
Fancy a turn behind the pumps at The Song Bar? Care to choose a playlist from songs nominated and write something about it? Then feel free to contact The Song Bar here, or try the usual email address.