Her heart it played

like well worn strings;

in her eyes

the sadness sings;

of one who was destined

for better things

Hana Walker-Brown's grandma was kept alive for seven hours in order for her family to rush to the hospital to say their goodbyes. One moment, alive like few 86 year olds; the next, parked in the one-way ward, a holding bay between this life and the next.

Swansong is a meditation on memory and loss, acceptance and death, with real life stories, imagined ones and the sounds and silences that weave our worlds together.

As Hana sat with her family waiting for the final moment, grief already upon them, her grandma lay in her own time and place - memories flooding in and around the reality of her situation, like a rolodex, flicking through years, moments, experiences in which she'd found happiness, sadness, weakness and strength. Content with death, after a life well-lived.

Comprising interviews with those who witnessed these final moments and audio captured by Hana with her grandma over the years, this feature blurs the lines between fact and fiction to take the listener through the precious final moments before passing to the other side.

Produced by Hana Walker-Brown

A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.


01Synchronicity By The Police20121023

A new series in which each week Stuart Maconie examines the final album by a major artist. This week, Synchronicity by The Police. Released in 1983, it was the band's fifth album and it hit the number one spot on both sides of the Atlantic. In America, it knocked the commercial juggernaut of Michael Jackson's Thriller from the top of the charts, selling over 8 million copies in the process. It also produced five international hit singles, including their most famous track Every Breath You Take. As Sting & co toured the world to promote their most successful release, each night playing 60,000 seater venues, at that point in their career they could genuinely lay claim to being the biggest band on planet Earth.

Although the split was never officially announced, Synchronicity was to be the last studio album they would ever record. Despite all of the success, the truth was the three members couldn't stand to be in the same room as each other. With archive interviews from Sting and Andy Summers and brand new contributions from Stewart Copeland, manager Miles Copeland, producer Hugh Padgham and journalist John Pidgeon, Stuart Maconie examines what went wrong.

02The Holy Bible, By Manic Street Preachers20121030

Stuart Maconie presents the story of The Holy Bible - the last album to feature full contributions from Richey James Edwards. Richey is credited with design and guitar for the album. In reality he gave no musical contribution to the record yet wrote 75% of the lyrics and fashioned the record's core subject material - namely a thesis on prostitution, capital punishment, American globalization and the Holocaust.

The album 'The Holy Bible' was released on 30 August 1994. Richey disappeared from the Embassy Hotel, Bayswater, London, at approximately 7am on 1 February 1995 and was never seen again. He was officially pronounced 'presumed dead' on 23 November 2008.

Swansong features new contributions from Manic Street Preachers - James Dean Bradfield and Nicky Wire, plus Manic's biographer Simon Price, and Keith Cameron - contributing Editor of Mojo magazine.

03Big Country's Driving To Damascus2012110620121110

Stuart Maconie looks at the final Big Country studio album to feature Stuart Adamson.

Stuart Maconie presents Swansong Ep 3 this week looking at Big Country's 1999 album Driving To Damascus.

Big Country were one of the most successful acts of the 1980's - with a dual guitar sound that's been likened to Thin Lizzy in Kilts- their epic Celtic anthems ontracks like 'Fields of Fire' and 'In A Big Country' sold millions both in the UK and the States. Singer and guitarist Stuart Adamson had previously tasted the limelight with his post-punk outfit The Skids - but it was the mainstream success of Big Country with their uniquely Scottish sound and lyrics emphasizing the plight of the working man that heralded their worldwide fame and to Adamson brought its associated troubles.

In summer 1999 the band entered Rockfield Studios in Monmouth to record Driving To Damascus - it would be their last full album with Adamson. Swansong Ep 3 features honest and revealing interviews with guitarist, Bruce Watson, drummer Mark Brzezicki, album's producer Rafe Mckenna, Eddi Reader and Stuart's daughter Kirsten Adamson who then aged 14 sang backing vocals on the album.

04 LASTThe Smiths' Strangeways, Here We Come2012111320121117

Stuart reveals the reasons behind one of the most famous break-ups in British pop history.

In the summer of 1987 Britain's best loved indie band abruptly came to end when guitarist Johnny Marr sensationally quit. The Morrissey/Marr partnership that had produced such a wealth of finely crafted pop tunes was over, just weeks after the group finished recording their fourth album, "Strangeways, Here We Come." Since then, all four band members have separately pronounced the LP as their best work. Bass player Andy Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce also claim that, at the time, they were blissfully unaware of any conflict. So what happened?

In this final part of the Swansong series, Stuart Maconie examines the circumstances surrounding the final recording by The Smiths, revealing the reasons behind one of the most famous breakups in British pop history. With new interviews from Mike Joyce, Andy Rourke and producer Stephen Street and contributions from music journalist Sian Pattenden and Morrissey biographer Simon Goddard.