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Saturday 17 December 2022

Isaac's Mix

This is Isaac's name on the Covid memorial in London, and his heart too, recently renovated by a friend. It was his funeral a year ago today. The recent anniversaries of his birthday and a week later the first anniversary of his death weighed very heavily on us for weeks before and there was quite a hangover after too. The anniversary of the funeral hasn't had the same effect. 

The day of the funeral itself, a year ago,was awful- the waiting for the hearse, the drive to the crematorium, the wait I had to stand up and read out the eulogy I'd written, the walk to the grave... all of it. It's not something I'd ever wish to live through again. 

The wake afterwards was a blur. I spoke to some people and barely to others. We found ourselves asking each other, 'was so- and- so at the wake? Did I speak to them?', for days and weeks afterwards. The number of people who attended either or both events was testament to Isaac and the effect he had on people. The friend who wrote the epitaph on his heart at the Covid memorial got it exactly right. 

These are the five songs we played at the funeral, sequenced into one mix in the order that they were played. They've all changed for me since that day, the songs and their meanings shifting in ways big and small. I guess that was inevitable. 

Isaac's Mix

  • The Charlatans: North Country Boy
  • Durutti Column: Sketch For Summer
  • The Wannadies: You & Me Song
  • The Flaming Lips: Race For The Prize
  • The Sabres Of Paradise: Smokeblech II (Beatless Mix)

Back in 1998 a friend, Neil, bought Isaac a copy of North Country Boy on 7" when he was born and it's a song I've associated with him ever since. Isaac was after all a north country boy. When we walked into the chapel as the drums and slide guitar kicked in I did briefly shudder and think to myself, 'Oh shit, what have we done, I'll never get through this song'. Some of the lines have an extra resonance now. You can probably work out which ones. In September this year I saw The Charlatans play it as part of their hits set at New Century Hall in Manchester. Quite a moment. 

Vini Reilly's music has been part of my life since about 1987 and I wanted some of it played at the funeral. There was a section in the service where a slideshow of photos of Isaac played and Sketch For Summer was the accompanying music, Vini's wonderful guitar and Martin Hannett's production and synths filling the room. Originally I wanted to use Otis but the sampled vocal, 'another sleepless night for me' was too much. 

You & Me Song was Eliza's choice and I can't hear the song now without crying. She has a print of the lyrics on her wall in her room. It's her song, and his, forever.

Race For The Prize tells of two scientists competing to find an un- named cure, with the pay off line, 'they're just human/ with wives and children'. The strings swoop and swell and it careers to its ending. It's a glorious song, emotional and inspiring. Back at the turn of the millennium my brother- in- law Harvey used to film everything. When we went on family holidays or met up he'd shoot loads of camcorder footage and he'd then edit it into short films with songs over the top. There's loads of footage of Isaac, his cousin Orlan and Eliza being children. In 2002 we went to the north east for a week in August and stayed in a cottage near Alnwick. Isaac had spent the period 1999- 2001 in and out of hospital, including in 2000 a long period of time undergoing two bone marrow transplants. Isaac's transplant was cutting edge, revolutionary stuff, only the second of its kind in the world. It saved his life and gave him the next two decades with us. Two scientists racing for the prize. Harvey's film of Isaac aged three and Orland aged two running around the garden in the sun with Race For The Prize playing, a beautiful coming together of images, music and words stuck with me, and it made sense to play the song at the graveside even if the meaning was unknown to almost everyone there.

Smokebelch II- Weatherall's moment of beauty from 1993. I've lost myself a few times to that song. I will do again I'm sure. 


Jake Sniper said...

A lovely selection of music Adam. Over the past couple of months I've attended two funerals of children I worked closely with. As a parent I've no idea how anybody gets up and talks about their children. As always sending love & strength to you and yours Adam.

Rickyotter said...

What a fitting five songs Adam, given great meaning by your personal reasons, but packing a pretty big emotional heft anyways. I think it's natural to get lost inside the funeral process, it's societies big event to start the healing, but the grieving know that you don't even start to plumb those horrible depths at this point, and the day seems like a nightmare that gives you nothing. Time is a great healer, but we hold onto pain, because it helps us remember. Hopefully things for you and your family will get better, sending much love and strength

Nick L said...

Terrific selection of music now made all the more poignant forever I suspect.

Rol said...

A far better soundtrack than any of the funerals I've attended.

I'm glad the anniversary of the funeral was slightly easier to deal with.

Take care.

Swiss Adam said...

Thanks all for your kind words and support. It means a lot.

AKickIndieNutz said...

My heart goes out to you and family. What a wonderful mix Sketch For Summer is the most beautiful piece of music. I must try to visit the wall in the New Year as I am in London and will look out for Isaac. My respects to you and family and wish you well over Christmas and New Year.

Dirk said...

I know I have been rather quiet recently, but I have thought quite often about Isaac, you and your family. Still I cannot really come to terms with it all - and most surely I cannot find the right words for you. That's if there are any at all ..

Take good care, your pal,


Swiss Adam said...

AKickIndieNutz- his name isn't difficult to find,near the Westminster Bridge end, to the left of the first plaque

Dirk- thank you pal.

JC said...

It was 'You and Me' that got me bubbling that day.....and anytime I now hear it, or 'North Country Boy', my thoughts turn to Isaac.

And thanks for sharing the story behind 'Race For The Prize.' It's quite incredible.

It's been a tough 12 months for you and the family. I really hope the healing process can now begin to take some effect.

PS : This should make you smile. When I had to tick the boxes at the verification page to show that I wasn't a robot, I had to click on the squares that had pictures of buses. Uncanny!

Khayem said...

I’ve been listening to this through the week, in between the Christmas playlists. The songs resonate even more greatly than they did before, with Isaac’s story intertwined with their own narrative. So beautifully written. Thanks for sharing, Adam.