Calling all old-time country (?) music fans (C. Atkins, J. Cash, ?) for advice

(Hmm, seeking opinions on music: Cafe Society or IMHO? I flipped a virtual coin.)

As I’ve reported elsewhere on these boards, my father recently died, an event that is not particularly upsetting to me because he was not really much of a father.

Anyway, I’ve shared the fact of his passing with a few friends. One of them, a professional musician, has very kindly offered to provide music at the memorial service, anything we might like her to play as long as we give her enough time to learn it. I passed this offer on to my mother and she said she would definitely consider it. (The service, which will be fairly short and simple, will be held sometime next spring.)

Here’s the rub: My friend sings and plays guitar and Celtic harp, and quite beautifully too. It’s just the sort of music my dad would have scoffed at, but I’m quite sure that my mom and other people attending the service would enjoy it. My mom suggested that perhaps my friend could simply play background music either before or after the service, as people are entering or leaving. That would be fine, and easy for my friend, as obviously she already has a repertoire of just that sort of thing.

But another idea, which my mom suggested, would be maybe to play a bit of something along my dad’s musical tastes. Ho-kaaayyyy . . . He was not an active audiophile, but his tastes ran (as she described them) to Chet Atkins, Johnny Cash, and the like.

That would be interesting . . . but I’m having a hard time coming up with songs from that genre that would (1) mesh with my friend’s style and instrumentation and (2) be appropriate for a memorial service. My dad was an atheist, so anything overtly religious would be out. I’d think that these guys, over their long careers, would have written/recorded something that might be appropriate for this occasion.

My friend is usually game for anything musically, but whatever she plays almost always has her unique stamp on it.

Should we stick with just mellow background music, or can someone here with a bit more musical knowledge suggest something appropriate in the Atkins/Cash arena?

TIA for any ideas . . .

Chet Atkins recorded a lot of material, much of it covers. His style is very distinctive, involves a very particular guitar technique, and IMHO is extremely boring.
I know this because my father loves Atkins, and taught himself to play in the same style. One appreciates the difficulty of the technique, but after 10 minutes it gets repetitive. However, I’ve always thought it would be suitable for background music at a funeral.

You would need to find someone adept at the Atkins guitar technique. I’d say ask around at a local music store.

The Johnny Cash repertoire is considerably easier to play. Unlike Atkins, he kept it simple. Many guitar musicians would probably know a Cash song or two, or could work them up fairly easily.

Sorry for your loss, Scarlett (even tho, IIRC, you’re a bit lukewarm on it).

I am no country expert, but when my uncle died it was a hillbilly reunion. My aunt had this song, “Why Me, Lord” playing and all of the hillbillies sang along and cried. It was, actually, touching.

I do realize that it’s a religious song but…well, funerals are for the living. If his friends have similar musical tastes, they will appreciate it.

How about some Hank Williams: “I’ll never get out this world alive”:

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Seems like a good one for a funeral.

Johnny Cash- Peace in the Valley (dirgy)
Johnny Cash- I’ll Fly Away (uplifting-most recorded gospel song by record, as well)

She could play the saddest song in country: George Jones’ He Stopped Loving Her Today. As an instrumental, it would probably be very appropriate.

My parents listened to old country music, too - Johnny Cash, Hank Snow, Hank Williams, Wilf Carter, Marty Robbins, Loretta Lynn, Stompin’ Tom Connors, Gene Autry, Don Williams, Jim Reeves, George Jones, Connie Francis, etc. I know far too many old country songs as a result of this. Pretty much all of these old country songs are plaintive and sad, suitable for funeral music.

Can your friend yodel? :smiley:

The roots of American Country Music are in the British Isles &Africa.

Have you ever heard of the Chieftains? I’m sure your friend has; they are Ireland’s premier traditional group. In their long history, they’ve collaborated with musicians playing many other styles.

In Another Country, they visited Nashville. They revisited in Down the Old Plank Road & Further Down the Old Plank Road; these are not online, but sells the CD’s.

You & your friend might get some ideas from these wonderful musicians–collaborating with other wonderful musicians.

Johnny Cash’s Flesh and Blood is incredibly lovely and perfectly suitable. Other (non-religious) country standards that would work might include The Streets of Laredo, Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie, Keep on the Sunny Side.

Another one of Cash’s songs that would be appropriate for instrumental background music is Give my Love to Rose.

Someone else’s guitar style that is well suited to funeral/memorial service music is Randy Scruggs. He tends to cover some pop, country, bluegrass and gospel in a soft, soothing, simple style. Amazon has several of his CDs available if you’re interested in getting one for your friend to listen to.

Your family is in my thoughts.

ABSOLUTELY! Except at a funeral. You want to go more generically “sweet.” ETA: That one’ll turn people who are ambivalent to him into sobbing piles of mush, including them what stopped loving HIM some time ago, like your mom.

Not Johnny; Roseanne Cash – September When It Comes. Roseanne did another version of this song with her dad just before he dies. That one had a slightly more religious tone – they changed the lyric “and crawl into your arms and touch your face and dream” to “and crawl into the hearts and arms of those who wait for me.” Beautiful song either way and very appropriate for a funeral.

Thanks, everyone, lots of great ideas. I’ll take them to my mom and my friend and we’ll toss them around.

We’re not so wedded to the idea of the “Chet Atkins style” that we would forgo my friend’s offer to hire some dude from a music store. The idea is that she would play as a favor to me. The Chet Atkins thing was just one suggestion.

Anything with a “love song” air to it would be, well, creepy and out of place. That wasn’t really a concept anyone associated with him, I don’t think.

We may end up going with just the background music, if at all.