Music has always been known for its power to move hearts. For those of us who shared a close bond with the elders around us, playing songs that encapsulate what they meant could be your way of gaining some closure over their loss.
When choosing the funeral songs to include in the playlist for your loved one, it’s important to keep in mind that the song selections should be in accordance with your loved one’s tastes, rather than just playing popular songs.
But with the vast variety of songs that exist, coming up with a mere 10 or 20 songs can seem like a daunting task. Which songs to include? Which ones would be apt? Well luckily for you, we’ve made a list of the 21 best funeral songs to play at a funeral.
1) The Long and Winding Road (The Beatles)
It’s quite the cliche saying, but many a time, it’s not the destination, but the journey that actually matters. After all, it was the memories you made and the things you learned while arriving at the destination that truly made a difference. A song that was written in the aftermath of The Beatles’ split, Long and Winding Road is a song that offers a degree of closure to its listeners.
2) Remember Me (Miguel)
A song that made its appearance in the animated film Coco, this upbeat, yet tearful song that is about remembering your loved ones no matter how far away they are. Because despite the distance, they will always be by your side. This makes it one of the best modern funeral songs for your elderly loved one.
3) What A Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong)
Another classic and uplifting song, What A Wonderful World never fails to give you the hope that you would require following the death of a loved one. For all its flaws, humanity still has a way of redeeming itself. And that is the wonderful world that Armstrong is singing about.
4) Candle in the Wind (Elton John)
One of the most well-known funeral songs, especially when its context is taken into account. Candle In the Wind was written in memory of Marilyn Monroe, who had died 11 years prior. It was re-written and released 25 years later following the tragic death of Princess Diana.
5) Hallelujah (Jeff Buckley)
Originally sung by Leonard Cohen, it is Buckley’s melancholic rendition of the song that truly conveys the sadness buried in the lyrics. Accompanied by a single electric guitar, you can feel Buckley’s pain as he sings the song.
6) Somewhere Over The Rainbow (Israel Kamakawiwoʻole)
There’s a certain magical charm to this song that brings a smile to anyone’s face when they hear it. Perhaps it’s Israel’s singing, perhaps it’s the simple ukelele, or maybe it’s the beautiful lyrics. But what’s certain is that this song will remind you that it’s not all doom and gloom. It never is. Happy songs can also be included in a playlist of funeral songs.
7) November Rain (Guns ‘N’ Roses)
One of the longer entries on the list, November Rain is a rock ballad that offers a certain degree of closure. As Axl Rose sings ‘..nothing lasts forever..”, it’s a reminder to cherish what we had and be happy that it happened.
8) Clair de Lune (Debussy)
Classical music always has a way of tugging at heartstrings, and there aren’t many who does it better than Debussy. With each keystroke, you can feel the sadness that has been immortalized through this piece, making it a perfect funeral song for a memorial service.
9) Broken Halos (Chris Stapleton)
Just like us, the ones we lost should also move on. Because life goes on. Broken Halos is a funeral song about how your loved ones eventually become angels that guide others.
10) Don’t Worry, Be Happy (Bobby McFerrin)
The iconic whistle, the straightforward, almost too simplistic lyrics, McFerrin’s jovial voice. This song was meant to lift moods, and it does a very good job of doing that. No matter how bad things may get, just weather through it because good times will come. This song can also work for a celebration of life ceremony due to its hopeful nature.
11) Never Alone (Jim Brickman )
Never Alone is about how your loved ones are always with you, even in death. No matter how much time passes, those precious to us will never make us feel alone.
12) My Way (Frank Sinatra)
Being your own person is the central theme of the song, and that could exactly be the send-off that your loved one deserved and needs. A popular funeral song for older generations, this song’s relevance makes it a perfect song that is apt for an older loved one.
13) Stairway To Heaven (Led Zeppelin)
One of the most popular songs of all time, Stairway To Heaven starts off slow and keeps the pace until the guitar solo. From there on, it’s classic rock and roll. Due to its mystical lyrics and shifting tones, it has become a popular choice for upbeat funeral songs.
14) There'll Be You (Faith Hill)
Throughout our lives, there are some people that we grow to rely on. These people are with us throughout thick and thin and they could be your friend, parent, better half, or even your pet. This is one of the funeral songs that serves as a ‘Thank You Note’ to those who have always been there for you.
15) Troubadour (George Strait)
Growing old is something that everyone goes through. Although it’s a universal phenomenon, people treat it very differently. With many songs in country music focusing on pain, Troubadour is a refreshing song about how people can remain young at heart even if they age physically.
16) Drive [For Daddy Gene] (Alan Jackson)
A song for the dads who were all about their cars, Drive [For Daddy Gene] celebrates the motorhead that your loved ones once might’ve been.
17) Live Like You Were Dying (Tim McGraw)
A song that was inspired by McGraw’s relationship with his father, Live Like You Were Dying is about living life to its fullest by treating every day like it was your last.
18) A Song For Dad (Keith Urban)
Fathers are often the supporting pillar that silently takes on all the hardships for the sake of their families. Urban’s song is a tribute to all the fathers who always put family first.
19) Carrying Your Love With Me (George Strait)
A perfect song to express the love that you have for your loved ones, Carrying Your Love With Me encapsulates how we carry on the love that we receive from others.
20) Live Forever (Oasis)
This is a song that reminds us that our loved ones never truly leave us, for they live on through our memories of them. A funeral service is about remembering our loved ones, and this classic song reminds us that it’s never really over.
21) In My Life (The Beatles)
A song about introspection, In My Life talks of how everyone leads different lives that ultimately has some meaning.
22) Amazing Grace (Jennifer Hudson)
While Amazing Grace is an uplifting funeral hymn in and of itself, this rendition by Jeniffer Hudson takes the cake for her masterful technique in conveying the beauty of the song.
Funerals can be somber affairs, and it should be noted that creating a playlist and playing it is done in accordance with the deceased’s wishes from when they were alive. For a more comprehensive guide on creating a general playlist, check out the Top 30 Funeral Songs of All Time.