It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like music. From the way that it can influence your mood to the sharing of emotions through songs, music is perhaps our greatest creation. As such, you might wish to create a playlist of funeral songs to play at the memorial service for your loved one.
When creating a playlist of funeral songs for your loved one’s service, 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 the popular ones.
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 30 best funeral songs of all time.
1. Tears In Heaven (Eric Clapton)
This ballad by Clapton was written following the death of his 4-year-old son, Conor. Despite his loss, Clapton is hopeful about seeing his son again in heaven. A bittersweet funeral song that is sure to invoke some strong emotions.
2. 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.
3. Wake Me Up When September Ends (Greenday)
Frontman Billie Joe Armstrong displayed his songwriting credentials through this song as he talks of moving on following the death of a loved one. The inspiration for the song came from Armstrong’s experience following the death of his father when he was 10.
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. Lay Me Down (Sam Smith)
A sad funeral song about coming to terms with the loss of a loved one, this Sam Smith ballad mourns their death, wishing that he too could be laid down with his beloved.
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. Forever Young (Rod Stewart)
Stewart has said that Forever Young was one of his favorite songs due to the fact that it was a song about his children. For most parents, their children are a big part of their lives and are always on the back of their minds.
8. 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.
9. Satisfied Mind (Jeff Buckley)
Another Buckley song, this song was released in his posthumous album Sketches (for My Sweetheart the Drunk). This song serves as a reminder that it’s the ‘little things’ that truly matter in life.
10. Smile (Nat King Cole)
Your parents play a major role in shaping who you are as a person. Cole sings about how this influence is carried through by singing about the advice that would be given to your younger selves.
11. You Raise Me Up (Josh Groban)
Dedicated to all parents worldwide, this song serves as a Thank You to all the parents who kept striving to keep their children going through the tough times.
12. 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.
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. Goodbye’s the Saddest Word (Celine Dion)
A song for Mothers around the world, this song is about the importance of being there for the one person who has always been there for you no matter what. Your mom.
15. 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.
16. Amazing Grace (Jennifer Hudson)
While Amazing Grace is an uplifting song in and of itself, this rendition by Jeniffer Hudson takes the cake for her masterful technique in conveying the beauty of the song.
17. See You Again (Charlie Puth)
Released as a tribute to the late Paul Walker, See You Again is a song about hope. The hope of seeing each other again despite parting ways right now. This is a perfect funeral song for a friend that might have passed away.
18. There You’ll Be (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 song is a ‘Thank You Note’ to those who have always been there for you.
19.How Long Will I Love You (Ellie Goulding)
In this modern pop track, Goulding talks of how love extends beyond any boundaries; both physical as well as metaphysical. Words cannot describe her love or its eternal nature.
20. In My Life (The Beatles)
A song about introspection, In My Life talks of how everyone leads different lives that ultimately has some meaning.
21. I’ll Be Seeing You (Billie Holiday)
Popularized by its appearance in The Notebook, Holiday’s jazzy vocals serve the ultimate ending to the perfect love story. For your other half, this could be the sending-off that both of you wish for.
22. 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.
23. A Thousand Years (Christina Perri)
Originally appearing in the Twilight movie, this song is about an eternal love that will stand the test of time. Funerals can be tough, and reaffirming your love through funeral songs where the theme isn’t about death can help in conveying what your loved one meant to you.
24. 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.
25. If Tomorrow Never Comes (Garth Brooks)
Human beings are often victims of not living in the moment. They worry about what may be or what was rather than focusing on the present. If Tomorrow Never Comes is about not taking our lives for granted and living every day to the fullest.
26. Holes in the Floor of Heaven (Steve Wariner)
Sometimes, the ones who guided us through life might eventually leave us behind. A popular funeral song for an elderly loved one, Holes In The Floor Of Heaven is a sort of reassurance that even though they might’ve passed on, your loved ones are watching over you from the beyond.
27. Moonlight Sonata [1st Movement] (Beethoven)
While the 2nd and 3rd movements are well known for their unique and fast-paced melody, the 1st movement starts it off with an almost indescribable sadness. It is perhaps the perfect peaceful send-off for your loved one.
28. You’ll Never Walk Alone (Judy Garland)
A song about having your loved ones by your side, even when it might seem like they’re not, Garland sings that whatever happens in life, you’ll never walk alone.
29. You Are the Sunshine of My Life (Stevie Wonder)
For all the jazz lovers out there, this timeless Wonder song encapsulates what many parents considered their children to be. As such, this song could be the perfect reminder of the happy times you shared with your loved ones.
30. 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.
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. With that, we hope that these songs could give you an idea on what songs to play for a funeral.