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 top 25 funeral songs to play at a service will help your families bid their farewells in the most unique and perfect way.
Give them a listen below, que them up on your playlist, or use our FREE Spotify playlist with nearly 100 songs at the bottom of this blog to get your inspired for your next celebration of life!
The classic, most touching funeral songs
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 have stuck around for a while, for good reason:
1. “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.
2. “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.
3. “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.
4. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” – Israel Kamakawiwo’Ole
Ahhhh, this song. The ukeleighleigh, his comforting voice, the beautiful lyrics. I can just imagine the doves being released to this song on the day I leave this world. “And I think to myself, what a wonderful world…”.
Funeral songs that will open the floodgates
These songs could help you to get all of the tears out of the way, which is very important at a service. It’s good to feel your feelings, and these beautiful songs will take you there:
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”.
7. “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”.
8. “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.
Funeral songs for the hopeless romantics
If you really want a good cry, or there is a beautiful romance that has been affected by the loss that deserves an ode, these songs will certainly fit the situation:
This version of the famously known song by the Queen of pop, Beyonce, was performed for a child who was terminally ill in the hospital, and it really touched our hearts. The lyrics, the way it’s delivered, and the love you can feel emanating from Beyonce.
This acoustic, yet modern song is a great expression of love without being all big and ballad-y. Really great for Indie lovers and people of all ages. The melody will take you into a love trance.
As it was so infamously played in the cry-festival of a movie, The Notebook, this one is a classic for long time lovers. We love a good romance story, and this is the perfect song that embodies romance.
Funeral songs that are inspiring and uplifting
Once all the tears have been shed, it’s time to shake it up a little. After tears come, there is a beauty that is light and vulnerable, and these songs truly embody that:
This song isn’t about death or dying, but it really represents the circle of life that we find ourselves in these beautiful moments of coming together to celebrate life.
“’Cause you’re everywhere to me / And when I close my eyes it’s you I see / You’re everything I know / That makes me believe / I’m not alone.” How can you argue with the inspirational spark these lyrics have? Sure, we can lose a loved one. But they’re always with us, and this song says it beautifully so!
Just like Michelle Branch says, this song really reminds us that we can always keep our loved one’s with us. With a romantic tone to it, this song is really great for the times at a funeral where you are looking at photos, memories, and remembering in an uplifting kind of way.
- “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”.
Funeral songs for a beautiful celebration of life
If you’re hosting a celebration of life, or a beautiful outdoor event packed with people, these songs will get people up out of their chairs and even dancing, if the mood strikes:
This song is a really great song for a release of some sort – whether it’s balloons, confetti, or a dove. It really reminds us of the big open sky that shows us where heaven is. Plus, it’s a classic that everyone loves!
Who do you know who doesn’t love the movie Dirty Dancing? It’s a classic! And if you have dancing at your celebration of life, this is the perfect last dance song!
These lyrics say it all: “May good fortune be with you, may your guiding light be strong, / Build a stairway to heaven with a prince or a vagabond. / And may you never love in vain. / And in my heart you will remain. / Forever young.”
19. “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.
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:
20. “Keg On My Coffin” – The Push Stars
Despite its 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”.
21. “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 goalposts 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
22. “Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die” – Willie Nelson
Because everyone needs a little sense of humor, even during the saddest of times. This classic hit is perfect for a full-on fun family who can handle a little humor at a celebration of life.
23. “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 you 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.”
24. “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?
Perhaps the most “edgy” of the songs on here, this one is perfect for the funny father figure in the family who listened to rock music all day. A classic.
The official “Top Funeral Songs to Celebrate Life” playlist
Packed with tons of inspiration for your next celebration of life, give our free playlist a listen!
Feeling inspired by all these funeral songs, but still not sure what kind of music to play at your next funeral service? Use this infographic to help you get clear on the kind of funeral music to play at the service.
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Did you know Life Tributes’ tribute video software has the largest library of funeral music with more than 1,000 tracks? You can also import any track that’s meaningful to your families into your tribute videos. How awesome is that? To learn more about how you can get a 30-day FREE trial of Life Tributes Personalization Software, click here or call 800-798-2575, ext. 5.
What is your favorite funeral song of all time? Tell us in the comments below!