Behind The Song

Funeral Dirge For A Dead Ex-Girlfriend

Joe Satriani Pays His Last Respects
Download     mp3 demo

When I was 15 I had a vivid dream that my recently ex’d ex-girlfriend died. Being a highly strung youth it upset me. But 5 years later when I wrote a depressing foot dragging instrumental I was over it (and her) and decided Funeral Dirge For A Dead Ex-Girlfriend would be a fun name.

In 1989, smack in the middle of the neoclassical virtuoso shredder boom (Flying In A Blue Dream had just come out), I was stuck in an extremely lightweight rock band, but listening to anyone with big hair and a floyd rose. Drummer Mark Nelson and I spent extra hours in a rehearsal room in Grimsby (where the band was based) jamming through ideas for this and another tune called Disney X.

Later, out of the band and back in my hometown of Sutton In Ashfield, I worked with virtuoso bassist Phill Danks on the tracks that would make up my solo guitar debut album (including the original instrumental version of Shang Ding Hong Song called Verbal Gerbils). And then, just like that, I put my prospective shredding career on indefinite hold.

Funeral Dirge finally got an airing in 2005 when I arranged it for the Advanced Guitar Group I taught on a Saturday morning at Brunts School in Mansfield. For the next two years various budding metalheads (including Sarah Kerry and Joel Peat, I think) wrestled with release bends and chromatic melodies. When I left the kids even performed it in my honour along with a medley of Tequila, Mr T‘s Mother, Treat Her Right and The A Team Theme that they shoehorned my name into. And it was as bizarre as it sounds.

So in 2016, looking backwards to go forward, I recorded the first demo, 11 years after the first public performance and 27 years after I wrote it.

I really do have to pull my finger out.

Musically I can definitely hear the influence of Joe Satriani on the main melody (it’s in the same ballpark as Hill Of The Skull) and solo (3:41 and 3:55), Randy Rhoads-era Ozzy (clean dissonant arpeggios 2:04), Cliff Burton-era Metallica (lead bass at 2:20), Steve Vai (wide intervals in the solo at 4:00) and maybe a bit of Stravinsky’s Rite Of Spring peeking through at 2:40.

The main point of interest is how many keys it goes through from Am and A harmonic minor to Cm and Ebm, Em and finally F#m. There are some interesting harmonies to parallel 2nds in the chromatic melody (2:50) and parallel 4ths shortly after (3:02). In the solo I play a lot of 7th (3:31) an idea I got from Izaak Wierman.

The inspiration for the pre chorus came when I realised in A harmonic minor you could have F major and F minor – but if you only heard the power chord you would assume it was major. I liked playing with that assumption.

The freak out right at the end (5:26) was from the guide track which I’d recorded before I dialled in the ritardando (slow down). It sounded so gnarly I flew a rough mix back into the finished session.


Rain – rain.mp3 by soundman9826
Bell – S: 111013 – Sirmione – Kirchenlaeuten.WAV by aarom
Snare drum roll – snare – Premier Artist Maple – loose – buzz roll x3.wav by bigjoedrummer
All from under a Creative Commons license
Laughter from Flight Of The Bumble Bee (Spike Jones), Sunday’s On The Way (Take 6) and Moonglow (Chet Atkins and Les Paul).

Meaning I got to jam with two legends of the guitar on this track!