Songs not to sing on your next karaoke night

Do yall feel the breeze blowing? That’s not the change in weather from rainy, to warm, to a 3 snowflake Atlanta shutdown, to a brisk 65 degrees. No, that breeze is the result of my vigorous funeral home fanning. Thank you, Jesus! Pass the smelling salts, I might fall  out again,  November and December are over! I do my best to avoid most holiday-ish things. I don’t put up a tree, and I will throw your Beats Pill speaker into the lake if you try to play a Christmas song. I don’t even care how much I love Dr. Dre!  On the way home to Carrollton on Christmas Eve Eve, I hit shuffle on my phone to avoid the nauseating melodies of everyone’s joyful love of Rudolph and Bethlehem, and came across my MRG playlist. Instead of crying over Christmas music, I wept and wailed over songs that reminded me of Molly. By the time I reached the Carroll County line, I felt like I had done one of Dr. Oz’s cleanses. Gratitude abounds that some days, I don’t need Oprah’s other friend, Dr. Phil, because I can crank up the volume, roll the windows down, and speed (no more than 5 mph above the speed limit) into a different frame of mind. Musical tastes and the evoking emotions are as varied and individualized as the instructional strategies I am supposed to be listing on the lesson plans I still haven’t made for this week. However, I thought I would share a few of the songs from my MRG playlist in case you need a dose of Dr. Phil on a Dear Abby budget.


Not Even the Trees– Hootie and the Blowfish

I’m a stranger in my home…Now that everybody’s gone


Darius Rucker (Don’t call him Hootie) channeled his grief over his mother into some touching lyrical pieces. One night, I was in the middle of a dance floor in downtown Nashville, and some song made me cry at an inopportune time. A friend who I was with, hugged me, and sent me this song to listen to the next day, and got me another beer. If Hootie himself, I mean Darius, can make himself vulnerable, then I can too.


A Picture of Me (Without You)- George Jones

Imagine a world where no music was playing

Then think of a church where nobody’s praying

                           If you’ve ever looked up at a sky with no blue

Then you’ve seen a picture of me without you.


Our daddy raised us right. Somehow, through the years and years we had to pretend to hate George Jones just to satisfy our rebellious spirits, his whiny, post-nasal drip laced voice became as comforting as solid ground after a trip in the Pacific Ocean on a rowboat. When I hear this song, I cry for my Daddy, he’s stuck here with his second favorite daughter.


For Good– Idinia Menzel and Kristen Chenoweth

And just to clear the air

I ask forgiveness

For the things I’ve done, you blame me for

But then, I guess we know

There’s blame to share


I saw Wicked three times before Molly died. (Once after, and it was ugly.) The story of Elphaba and Galinda has so many parallels, and this song just cuts to my guts. If Molly and I could have had a duet in the ICU, this would have been it. I sing this and hope she’s forgiven me.  Also, Emily > John Travolta! (Ideeeeeeeenuh Menzell)


Drink a Beer- Luke Bryan

Funny how the good ones go

Too soon, but the good lord knows

The reasons why it gets

Sometimes the greater plan is kinda hard to understand

Right now it don’t make sense

I can’t make it all make sense


I can’t remember for sure, but I am almost positive that Molly would have held Luke Bryan’s dirty toenails in her mouth if he couldn’t find a place to dispose of them. She loved country music, and she loved a good looking man. She’d be jealous to know that I’m now in an exclusive club with Luke. This dead sibling club isn’t one I’d recommend, but this song speaks to how sometimes in grief you just have to stop. I’m thankful for my friends who continue to drink a beer with me, even if you don’t want to put my toenails in your mouth.


Threaten Me With Heaven- Vince Gill

I hear angels through the window pane, calling my name

Someday when they carve my name in stone, I won’t be, I won’t be alone

If by chance a miracle appears, I’ll dry up your tears

What’s the worst thing that can happen,

If they say my time is through

Can they take away the love,

Or the years I’ve shared with you

What’s the worst thing that can happen,

What’s the worst that they can do


I know, I know. Every Southern Squallio (funeral video to the Garners) has Vince Gill’s, Go Rest High on that Mountain. Sure, Molly is resting high on some mountain (waiting on Luke Bryan to join her, no less), but this song is what I imagine played in her heart as we said our goodbyes. As much as I hate to admit it, being threatened with heaven is akin to being threated to be struck once with a wet angel hair noodle. If I know anything, I know she had the blessed assurance that heaven was the worst that could happen—for her.


Baby Blue- George Strait

She brought colors to my life that my eyes had never touched.

And when she taught me how to care, I never cared so much.

I try not to think of her, but I fall asleep and do,

And drift off where the grass is green and the sky is baby blue.


Molly can keep her contemporary country crooners with their skinny jeans and baseball hats. I’ve had a long-standing infatuation with King George. I’ve always known about his daughter being killed in a car accident, and admired how he put his family first. It’s not only admirable that he maintained his residence on his ranch in Texas, it’s the safest option for him. Had he lived in Nashville, I would never have finished grad school because I would have stalked him and possibly been on the news. Baby Blue is a tribute to his daughter, Jennifer. Molly also had piercing blue eyes, and I miss those most. (See George! We have something in common! P.S. Call me.)


Saturday in the Park- Chicago

People talking, really smiling

A man playing guitar

And singing for us all

Will you help him change the world

Can you dig it (yes, I can)

And I’ve been waiting such a long time

For today



If you know this ditty at all, you are questioning why this song made the list. Confession time: I love Chicago almost as much as Mr. Strait. As an older sister, I felt it was my duty to expose Molly to more music than the teeny bopper dumb stuff. (Well, I liked that stuff too. Ricky Martin, the Garner girls love you forever.) The only thing I loved more than belting out this chorus (and nailing the “Yes, I can” part) was how mad she would get at my enthusiasm for this song. When I hear this song, I want nothing more for her to tell me to shut up.


I’m Goin’ Home-  Hootie and the Blowfish

I guess it’s part of someone’s master plan

I see you laughing, you’re my best friend


As I said before, Darius gets it.


Sissy’s Song- Alan Jackson

Why did she have to go

So young I just don’t know why

Things happen half the time

Without reason without rhyme

Lovely, sweet young woman

Daughter, wife and mother

Makes no sense to me

I just have to believe


Molly loved country. Molly loved Georgia. Shout out to the West Georgia peeps who can make a song about their sister dying. Many props to you, Mr. Jackson.


Let it Be– The Beatles

And when the broken hearted people

Living in the world agree,

There will be an answer, let it be.

And though they may be parted there is

Still a chance that they will see

There will be an answer, let it be.


Please don’t hate me, but the Jennifer Hudson version brings me to tears every time. These British Boys did well with this song. Sometimes I want to punch them, because I don’t believe there will be an answer. However, they have the Monarchy on their side, so I will indeed let it be.


Chris Rice– Untitled Hymn

And with your final heartbeat

Kiss the world goodbye

Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory’s side, and

Fly to Jesus

Fly to Jesus

Fly to Jesus and live!


Molly loved this song. She made a CD of songs for my mom during a hard time, and this song was on it. When I hear this song, I know it’s what she believed. I know that’s what she’s done.


Light My Candle- Cast of Rent

Bah humbug, bah humbug


As a child of the 80s who was wrapped up in the events of the AIDS crisis, I felt it important to educate my sister on the events of decade that preceded her birth. What better way than with show tunes? I also taught her the important lesson of, “If you can’t sing good, sing loud.” My inner Mimi came bellowing through the hurricanes of life with that one line. Molly developed an aversion to A Christmas Carol, but the lyrics to Light My Candle enchanted (or haunted) her dreams.


Do you Realize?- The Flaming Lips

And instead of saying all of your goodbyes, let them know

You realize that life goes fast

It’s hard to make the good things last

You realize the sun doesn’t go down

It’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round


No, I’m not a hipster. Yes, this song makes me cry.


It Doesn’t Get Any Lonelier Than This- Steve Earle

And there’s no place I can go

Just the dusty corners that the shadows know

Maybe this is as good as it’s gonna get

And I’ll always be this way

I’ll just wander this world callin’ out your name

It doesn’t get any lonelier than this


Steve Earle and I have had different struggles in life. But, I know those dusty corners that he and the shadows know. Life isn’t as lonely when you know someone else is too. I think he wrote this before Molly died. If not, I’m sorry. I have a strong diaphragm.


Walk On- U2

And I know it aches

How your heart it breaks

You can only take so much

Walk on

Walk on


If you do not like Bono, then I don’t like you. No, seriously, bye Felicia! Bono’s lyrics are steeped in scripture, and this man walks his talk. To be honest, I don’t even know where Burma is. This song was penned for the woman who fought for Burmese democracy, but some days I think the man with the rose colored glasses knew that I needed this reminder too. It makes me cry when he tells me, but he says, “Walk on,” so many times in the song, I have to follow his command.


Just Breathe- Pearl Jam

Nothing you would take

Everything you gave

Hold me till I die

Meet you on the other side


This song was released the year that Molly died. The title seems simple; but, if you have experienced traumatic loss, you know that there are days you need this tattooed on your shoulder. If it was tattooed on your forehead, you would die because you sure don’t want to look in the mirror.


Rainbow Connection- Kermit the Frog

Have you been half asleep and have you heard voices?

I’ve heard them calling my name.

Is this the sweet sound that calls the young sailors.

The voice might be one and the same.

I’ve heard it too many times to ignore it.

It’s something that I’m supposed to be.

Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers and me.


My dear friend Jon Allmett re-introduced me to this song in 2000. I thought it was beautiful and poetic then. After Jon died and his brother Justin took over full time song leading at camp, I began to tear up hearing Justin’s soulful voice ease those lyrics out. Now, it’s an all out snotfest when my Justin sings this song. He and I are the only two members in our support group, so I hereby declare this our theme song. Rainbows are meaningful to my family (not even because of the ark, but that’s cool too.) When I dream of Molly, I feel half awake. That stupid green frog makes me feel more emotions than the Sarah McLachlan ASPCA commercials!


The Words I Would Say- Sidewalk Prophets

Three in the morning,

And I’m still awake,

So I picked up a pen and a page,

And I started writing,

Just what I’d say,

If we were face to face,

I’d tell you just what you mean to me,

I’d tell you these simple truths,

Be strong in the Lord and,

Never give up hope,

You’re going to do great things,

I already know,

God’s got His hand on you so,

Don’t live life in fear,

Forgive and forget,

But don’t forget why you’re here,

Take your time and pray,

These are the words I would say,

Last time we spoke,

You said you were hurting,

And I felt your pain in my heart,

I want to tell you,

That I keep on praying,

Love will find you where you are,

I know cause I’ve already been there,

So please hear these simple truths,

Be strong in the Lord and,

Never give up hope,

You’re going to do great things,

I already know,

God’s got His hand on you so,

Don’t live life in fear,

Forgive and forget,

But don’t forget why you’re here,

Take your time and pray,

These are the words I would say,

From one simple life to another,

I will say,

Come find peace in the Father,

Be strong in the Lord and,

Never give up hope,

You’re going to do great things,

I already know,

God’s got His hand on you so,

Don’t live life in fear,

Forgive and forget,

But don’t forget why you’re here,

Take your time and pray,

Thank God for each day,

His love will find a way,

These are the words I would say


I can’t capture the meaning of this song in one lyric. Molly’s last Facebook post was the chorus to this song. Although I think that post was a cry for help, now this song has become the anthem of how I navigate this world without her. I live life in fear, I have no clue why I’m here, and I find peace in Diet Coke and the Kardashians. I fail to live up to her example and forget her advice many times each day, but I will keep playing the song. I’ll keep playing it. I’ll keep crying. I’ll find a way to be her voice, even if that voice is singing off key to every Chicago song ever made.


More than meat love salt,



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