What’s a great funeral service without music that celebrates the life of a loved one perfectly?
We asked funeral directors across the country what their favorite funeral songs are, and the votes are in. Say goodbye to the typical bag pipes you’d hear at a funeral, because these 16 songs will help your families bid their farewells in the most unique and perfect way:
Funeral songs that will help you reflect…
First, let’s start things off with songs you’d typically hear at a funeral. These songs are a nice mix of beautiful odes to someone’s life and ones that inspire you to just get all of the tears out of the way. Either way, we love them all:
1. “Satisfied Mind” – Jeff Buckley
This song is easily the most beautiful song I have ever heard. I dare you to listen to this rendition and not cry. Seriously, it takes my breath away every time I hear it. Not only does it help you reflect the life lived, but it also inspires you to live a life based on love and compassion, not material things: “Money can’t buy back all your youth when you’re old, a friend when you’re lonely, or peace to your soul”.
2. “Blower’s Daughter” – Damien Rice
Although the lyrics cut me deep, there’s something about this song that’s quite romantic. It’s one of those songs I could imagine playing at a funeral where someone’s life – and love – were cut short. Sad, yet beautiful.
3. “You Can Close Your Eyes” – James Taylor
James Taylor can sing this song at my funeral any day. It’s a mix of everything you’d ever want from a funeral song – soft, acoustic, uplifting and thoughtful. It’s sad, but not sad enough to make you want to curl up in a ball and cry.
4. “Tears in Heaven” – Eric Clapton
The first funeral I ever attended was for my grandfather, and my mom requested that they play this song in honor of him. I’ll never forget the feeling I felt when I first heard it. This will always be one of my top picks.
5. “Feels Like Home” – Chantal Kreviazuk
There’s a scene in the movie “My Sister’s Keeper” where this song plays and I absolutely lost it the first time I heard it. Truly a classic.
6. “Asleep” – The Smith’s
The Smith’s are arguably one of the most talented bands of all time. This song is a little “dark”, but the lullaby-like melody make it a beautiful song to play at a funeral. It’s comforting lyrics sing “Don’t feel bad for me, I want you to know, deep in the cell of my heart, I really want to go. There is another world, there is a better world”.
Funeral songs that will make you laugh…
Now that we’ve got the sad stuff out of the way, let’s pick up the pace and look at some songs that truly define “celebration of life”. These songs are perfect for those who want anything but a traditional funeral, and certainly for people with a great sense of humor. Let’s check them out:
7. “Keg On My Coffin” – The Push Stars
Despite it’s title, this song is oddly soft, sweet and soothing… and also my top light-hearted choice for a funeral song: “Drink up life like a river ’till the pizza man delivers/And smile and know I loved you ’til the end”.
8. “Dropkick Me Jesus” – Bobby Bare
This song truly speaks for itself. A true classic. Ant the only way you can appreciate it is if you listen to the lyrics, so here you go:
Dropkick me, Jesus, through the goal posts of life
Bring on the brothers who’ve gone on before
And all of the sisters who’ve knocked on your door
All the departed, dear, loved ones of mine
Stick ’em up front in the offensive line
9. Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die – Willie Nelson
Because everyone needs a little sense of humor from time to time…
10. “Prop Me Up Beside The Jukebox (If I Die)” – Joe Diffie
This is one of those songs that is guaranteed to get everyone talking about the good times at a funeral. It’s uplifting, comforting and ya can’t beat Joe Diffie’s voice. My favorite part of the song? “Fix me up with a mannequin, just remember, I like blondes/ I’ll be the life of the party, even when I’m dead and gone.”
11. “Ring of Fire” – Johnny Cash
A funeral director once told me this is one of his most popular off-beat requests for songs to play at a funeral. Something about this song makes me want to dance, and why not dance while celebrating someone who has a sense of humor?
Funeral songs that are somewhere in between…
These songs are somewhere in between sad and happy, yet they’re all quite uplifting. They’re perfect for outdoor funeral services, and are guaranteed to make you feel a sense of happiness near the end. Give them a listen:
12. “Come Away With Me” – Norah Jones
I’m pretty sure this song is playing on repeat somewhere up there in heaven.
13. “Spirit In The Sky” – Norman Greenbaum
Not only is this song a crowd-pleaser, but the lyrics are perfect for an uplifting celebration of life: “When I die and they lay me to rest/ Gonna go to the place that’s the best/ When I lay me down to die/ Goin’ up to the spirit in the sky”.
14. “Elephant Gun” – Beirut
The lyrics have nothing to do with death at all, but there’s something about this song that reminds me of a New Orleans jazz funeral procession, and I quite enjoy it. Give it a listen.
15. “Hallelujah” – Jeff Buckley
Jeff Buckley makes it on this list again with his rendition of “Hallelujah”. A funeral service isn’t complete without this song, plus the words practically ooze out of his mouth. Simply amazing.