The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Baker's Dozen

Mercurial Rev: Richard Coles' Favourite Music
Alex Burrows , April 14th, 2021 08:57

Vicar, musician, broadcaster and ex-Communard, The Reverend Richard Coles tells Alex Burrows how music is still important to belief and why parish choirs are the new punk. Portrait by Tim Anderson.


Thomas Newman – Six Feet Under Theme
I love Thomas Newman’s music. I love film music anyway and I think he’s one of its absolute pre-eminent composers. A great musical family – he’s related to Randy Newman. The theme tune is just so good. Thomas Newman has got such impeccable judgement and taste. He conjures worlds out of very, very economical resources. It’s a simple little tune but it works so well. You have this lovely pizzicato and then these strange little bars with odd little noises that sound like sweepings-up from the studio floor. It’s such a great piece. If I was thinking of a theme tune to The Madness of Grief, I would very happily borrow this theme tune. A cover of it on the accordion!

I spend a lot of my time with death, like undertakers, which the show is about. That’s my professional world. I love the show. It’s very clever, very funny and very insightful. It’s a black comedy and if you talk to undertakers and vicars, there’s endless stories about the black comedy of death. You have to laugh in the face of such things because otherwise they overwhelm you. But also, people get very solemn around death – and understandably so. Whenever we get solemn, it opens up rich comic potential because people fall over and get things wrong and drop things – so comedy’s never very far away from when we’re in those solemn moments.

Bereavement and grief is a constant. It’s just that we export it to the edges of our concerns and consciousness. But what’s happened with Covid is that because of necessity, all of a sudden, it’s back near the centre of the agenda again and people are thinking about it because they have to.