Songs to Live by: Lord Dying’s Erik Olsen

Portland heavy-metal outfit Lord Dying is gearing up for the release their upcoming third LP, Mysterium Tremendum, which is due April 26th via eOne (you can pre-order it here). “We set out to write a record about life,” says guitarist-vocalist Erik Olsen of the album, “and it ended up being about death.” Considering the record’s theme, it should come as no surprise that when we asked Olsen to pick the song he’d want to be played at his funeral, he delivered not one song but 11! See the full list below, along with his commentary, plus the go-to cuts he turns when he’s feeling down, waking up and more.

WHEN I’M PISSED OFF:
BLACK FLAG – “MY WAR”

This song is so pissed and it made a big impact on me growing up. I think I bought this record when I was 13. I’d never heard anything like it before. I love the intro, too — it’s super unsettling and then right when it peaks, “Myyyyyy Waaaaaarr!!

WHEN I’M FEELING DEPRESSED:
THE BODY – “WANDERINGS”

I have many songs for this, but this one definitely sticks out. It’s amazing: super dark, beautiful, haunting and all-encompassing at the same time. These guys are great. They remind me of some of the experimental heavy bands I loved in the late Nineties like Thrones, Towel, Men’s Recovery Project, etc.  

WHEN I GET UP IN THE MORNING:
NEIL YOUNG – “DON’T LET IT BRING YOU DOWN”

Almost anything by Neil Young is a good way to start the day. He rules. Beautiful tunes with wisdom beyond his years. This album is flawless.

WHEN I GO TO BED:
TANGERINE DREAM – “CLOUDBURST DREAM”

This song is super relaxing and introspective. Perfect to wind down with. Most of their catalog is actually.

WHEN I’M GETTING IT ON:
PRINCE

Pretty much anything.  The man’s music is like sexual energy in musical form.

SONG I MOST WANT TO BE REMEMBERED FOR:
LORD DYING – “NEARING THE END OF THE CURLING WORM”

This is a track on our new album that hasn’t been released yet.  I’m super proud of this one. Sonically and lyrically, it turned out exactly how we envisioned it.  There will be a video for this one released in the coming weeks, as well.

SONG I WISH I WROTE:
LED ZEPPELIN – “NO QUARTER”

This song gave me the chills the first time I heard it and it still does. Every time. We toured with Crowbar a few years ago and got to see them cover it almost every night — their cover of it is incredible. Not an easy band to cover and do justice to.

SONGS I WANT PLAYED AT MY FUNERAL:

I’ve actually thought about this a few months ago and started compiling a DJ set. I made it through 11 songs before getting too bummed out and had to stop.  Anyway, these are all songs that give me the chills every time I hear them.

ABBA – “S.O.S”

There’s something haunting and sad at the same time about this one. It’s beautiful and kinda dark but also gets upbeat. Seems like a good one to start a funeral with.

ELLIOTT SMITH – “EVERYTHING MEANS NOTHING TO ME”

This song has a beautiful beginning section with lyrics that read like a poem. Existentially, it’s about how insignificant we truly are in the greater scheme of things. Done only in a beautiful and brilliant way that Elliott was capable of.

ELLIOTT SMITH – “A FOND FAREWELL”

Other than it being obvious as far as the chorus goes, I think there’s definitely another layer to what he’s singing about. This one’s an honest account of being strung out and depressed in the throes of addiction.

MOUNT EERIE – “REAL DEATH”

This album is quite possibly the saddest record ever made. It’s a true document of grief and loss. It’s hard to make it through the whole thing, but it also absolutely beautiful and a testament to the amount of grief a person can endure. I applaud Phil for being so brave to put this out.

BEATLES – “ELEANOR RIGBY”

This song gives me the chills, always. I love the piercing string section and storytelling lyrics. They make you feel bad for all the lonely people.

BOB SEGER – “SO I WROTE YOU A SONG”

This song rules. I love all the vocal harmonies. It feels super melancholy, but it’s also uplifting and catchy. Such an incredible resolving crescendo at the end, too.

BOB SEGER – “AGAINST THE WIND”

This song is played on the radio too much, but whatever — it’s a classic tune. I love his knack for storytelling. It makes me long for my formative years and the crew I used to hang with. Good times, indeed.

ELO – “WHEN I WAS A BOY”

This song is perfect. I love everything about it. It’s melancholy and catchy. It proves you can come back almost 29 years later and still put together an incredible album. Hats off to Jeff Lynne.

ELO – “TICKET TO THE MOON”

The song is another perfect one. It’s very encompassing and sad but beautiful at the same time like only Jeff could do. His vocals and compositions were unmatched. It also has this nerdy sci-fi thing going on that totally relate to, as well.

NINE INCH NAILS – “RIGHT WHERE IT BELONGS”

This one’s so good they put two versions on the album. It’s beautiful and dark with lyrics that make you think about your entire life. I’ve lost myself in this song so many times. It’s perfect for a funeral.  

NEIL YOUNG – “ONLY LOVE CAN BREAK YOUR HEART”

This is the track I want playing as everyone is walking out. The lyrics are perfect. Another song full of wisdom and sadness.