As the curtain slowly closed around the coffin in a small and rather bleak crematorium in Slough last week, I didnt know whether to laugh or cry when the first bars of Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run suddenly broke the silence in the room. As it happens I did both. I cried for the loss of my oldest and dearest friend, but chuckled inside at the bemused look on the elderly priest’s face, as Springsteen’s lyrics filled the room. I could imagine the smile on my friend’s face if he had been there, and couldn’t help but conjure up an image of him leaping out of the coffin to entertain the assembled group of friends and relatives with a dance that would have shaken the building to its foundations. Earlier, when arriving, I had seen the families from the previous funeral service leave, and as I left, yet another group of mourners were gathering for the next service. I wondered what pieces of music had been chosen to help drown their tears. Down the road a colourful group of West Indians carrying steel drums were gathering around a hearse at another church, no doubt about to go through a similar series of emotions. It was a striking reminder of just how much music has played its role in marking some of the emotional moments of our lives. Whether it is the crooning strains of Frank Sinatra singing As Time Goes By, in the film Casablanca, or the haunting lyrics of Dame Vera Lynn’s, We’ll Meet Again, or the powerful march of Blake’s Jerusalem, or even the burst of energy as Bruce Springsteen races across a stage belting out his home spun philosophy—music has the ability to lift spirits and leave fervour, anger, despair and joy in its wake. Isn’t it good to know that, as we look toward 2012, with a song in our hearts and a shimmy in our feet, the X-Factor will be there again next year to help guide us.