When it comes to the oh-and-just-one-more-thing school of expiring onstage, you might assume that opera has cornered the market. You know: TB, or perhaps a cutlass, has finally done its dirty work, and the hero or heroine is fading—but very, very slowly indeed, slowly enough to serenade us with drawn-out laments, now pointless declarations of undying love, or melodic re-assessments of the life just lived. This can go on for quite some time when tenors and sopranos are involved.
But the collection here is from the non-operatic world, and while it includes a few accounts of a third party’s final thoughts, or of someone technically still on the way out, in most of these tracks the protagonist is already dead—yet, impressively, continues to carry a tune. (A hilarious one we weren’t able to include but is worth finding: Richard Thompson’s “Now That I Am Dead.”) So pull up a chair and listen to these tales of woe. No big hurry; no one’s going anywhere. Manon Lescaut has nothing on these babies!
George Kalogerakis is a Deputy Editor for AIR MAIL