What do the gangsta rap devotee, the grizzled blues fanatic, the bearded folk fan, the goth and the indie kid have in common? Ask and they will all say the same thing: death and popular music have forever danced hand-in-hand in funereal waltz time. Music charts and the majority of radio playlists may conspire to convince anyone listening that the world spins on its axis to the tune of I love you, you love me and traditional matters of the heart. The rest of us know that we live in a world where red roses will one day become lilies and that death is the motor that drives the greatest and most exhilarating music of all. But death music is not merely a byword for bookish solemnity, or the glorification of murder, drugs and guns. Over the course of the last hundred years it has also been about teenage girls weeping over their high school boyfriends fatal car wreck; natural disasters sweeping whole communities away; the ever-evolving threat of disease; changing attitudes to old age; exhortations to suicide; remembering the dead; compiling the perfect playlist for a funeral; and the thorny question of what happens after the fat lady ceases to sing. So for every Black Angels Death Song there is a Candle in the Wind; for every Cop Killer there is The Living Years. Death, like music, is a unifying force. There is something for every taste and inclination, from murderous vengeance to camp sentimentality and everything in between. Drawing upon original and unique interviews with artists such as Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, Richard Thompson, Ice-T, Neil Finn, Ron Sexsmith, Mike Scott and Will Oldham, the book explores how popular music deals with death, and how it documents the changing reality of what death means as both artists and audiences grow older. Its as transfixing as a train wreck, and you wont be able to put it down. As an epilogue, I Shot a Man in Reno presents the reader with the 40 greatest death songs of all time complete with a brief rationale for each. The perfect starting point for the morbidly curious listener.

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