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(Credit: Stefan Bollmann)


Peter Hook lists the songs he wants played at his funeral

Bassist for not one but two of the most engaging British bands of the 1980s, Peter Hook redefined the lexicon of bass guitar in the realm of indie rock. Suffused with melody, the bass hooks were laced with angular energy that was brimming with possibility and passion. Echo and The Bunnymen guitarist Will Sergeant likened him to a lead bassist, much as Les Pattinson’s bass was performed with great reverence to the tune in question.

Hook’s first band, Joy Division, broke up in 1980, following the death of lead vocalist Ian Curtis, leading to the formation of New Order with keyboardists Stephen Morris and Bernard Sumner. New Order fused electronic beats and synthesisers in their music, but Hook was determined to let the bass rip through the dance flavours in an effort to bring rock back into the orbit. His work was muscular, metallic and brimmed with potential, feeling and ferocity, which likely explains why the work sounded so raw and ripe.

Sadly, he left New Order in 2007, and there doesn’t seem to be any hint of reconciliation in the process. But Hook is currently leading his own band, imbuing the band with a collection of rollicking bass riffs that propels the songs along with the charge of a frenzied force.

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Given the fact that he is getting older, and that he has experienced death through Curtis and other friends, death is a growing feature on the band’s mind. In an interview, Hook gave an example of songs he would like played at his funeral, and no, ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart‘ isn’t one of them. “I’ve actually got four written down,” Hook claimed. He then added, “Do you know when you go through a pandemic and you get a bit maudlin? The four songs are: Steppenwolf‘s ‘Born To Be Wild’, Jonathan Richman‘s ‘That Summer Feeling’, a wonderful song called ‘Poetry and Jazz’ by John Otway and ‘When I Get To Heaven’ by John Prine. That one is just my favourite song. I love the cigarette that’s nine miles long, and I love the fact that the first thing he does when he gets to heaven is form a band.”

It’s a diverse list, flitting from pop to jazz flavoured rock, culminating in a setlist that is bound to entertain those attending the funeral. What it boasts is another sense of purpose and presentation, showing that the presence of entertainment is pertinent in the mindset of the musician, even in death. Clearly, John Prine’s work holds a strong place in his heart, because he added the most amount of detail to the track, but he also singles out Steppenwolf, Richman and Otway in their resolve to create a moment in life, death and meditation.

Funerals signal a moment in time, whether it’s their adherence to the person in question, or whether it’s their attempt to reconcile with the person they are sending off on their voyage to a rest that is greater than any they have ever known. But it’s important to understand that every emotion – anger, joy, elation, fury, frenzy, grief – are all equally as valid as the one another person is feeling at that juncture in question.

With any luck, Hook won’t be leaving this planet for quite some time, and with any luck, he will have plenty of time to change his thoughts on the setlist for the funeral. Most importantly, it’s essential to focus on the here and now, in an effort to create a sense of priority in the world that details survival in every sense of the word. But as it’s a favourite of Hook’s, maybe we should all take a listen to ‘When I Get To Heaven.’

The four songs Peter Hook wants played at his funeral:

  • ‘Born To Be Wild’
  • ‘That Summer Feeling’
  • ‘Poetry and Jazz’
  • ‘When I Get To Heaven’

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