Funeral music: Ring-ding ding ding, Ted Heath is dead?


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The Independent Culture

Tomorrow, the music played at Margaret Thatcher’s funeral will be Elgar’s “Nimrod” and “I Vow To Thee My Country”. Given this week’s chart, er, ding-dong it was always unlikely that a tune from the Top 10 would soundtrack proceedings (Maggie never took to Duke Dumont). But what other inappropriate chart offerings have there been in the week of a former PM’s death?

Clement Attlee bowed out on 8 October 1967. That week’s No 1 was “The Last Waltz” by Engelbert Humperdinck. It was replaced a week later by the Bee Gees classic “Massachusetts”. Fortunately for Clem, the lights went out in Westminster Hospital rather than the north-east of the United States.

Attlee’s predecessor, Churchill, also had an apt choice. The Top 10 the week after he died in 1965 was topped by the Moody Blues’ “Go Now”. “Baby Please Don’t Go” by Them was at No 11. Harold Macmillan, meanwhile, could have been seen off this mortal coil by Europe’s “The Final Countdown”. Supermac died on 29 December 1986 and the next week’s charts had the Swedes’ undying hit at No 3. The other Harold, Wilson, could have chosen a genuinely popular funeral song – “Unchained Melody”. The only catch – it was the October 1995 version by Simon Cowell’s Robson and Jerome.

Ted Heath’s funeral march in July 2005 could well have been Crazy Frog’s “Axel F” (ring ding ding!) which was at No 8. While Jim Callaghan, who died earlier the same year, could have been returned to his sender via Elvis’s, sorry, “Return To Sender” at No 5 as Sony flogged his back catalogue to celebrate 50 years of The King.

Poor Alec Douglas-Home, though. His 1995 death was followed in the charts by “Fairground” by Simply Red and Shaggy’s “Boombastic” whose  “She call me Mr Boombastic, say me fantastic” refrain would certainly have been up the old Etonian’s street. More so, at least, than that week’s No 9, N-Trance’s cover of… “Stayin’ Alive”.