A funeral service wouldn't be complete without music that celebrates the life of the deceased loved one.
In order to determine the best funeral songs, we asked funeral directors from across the country for their thoughts, and we've compiled the results.
If you're looking for something a little different than the typical bag pipes you might hear at a funeral, look no further. These top 25 funeral songs will help your families bid their farewells in the most unique and perfect way.
If you need some inspiration for your next celebration of life, give some of these songs a listen. You can find them all below, or on our FREE Spotify playlist with nearly 100 songs
The classic, most touching funeral songs
To get started, let’s take a look at some songs that are typically played at funerals. These songs can be either beautiful commemorations of someone’s life or well-known classics:
1. “You Can Close Your Eyes” – James Taylor
This song has everything you could ever want from a funeral song – soft, acoustic, uplifting and thoughtful. James Taylor could sing this song at my funeral any day, and I would be perfectly happy with that. It's sad, but not so sad that it would make you want to curl up in a ball and cry.
2. “Tears in Heaven” – Eric Clapton
I will never forget the first funeral I ever attended. It was for my grandfather, and my mom requested that they play this song in honor of him. I had never heard it before, but it was so special and moving to me that it instantly became one of my top picks.
3. “Hallelujah” – Jeff Buckley
Jeff Buckley's rendition of “Hallelujah” earns him a spot on this list yet again. A funeral service just wouldn't be the same without this song, and the words seem to practically ooze out of his mouth. It's simply amazing.
4. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” – Israel Kamakawiwo’Ole
This song is so beautiful. The ukeleighleigh, his comforting voice, the beautiful lyrics, and I can just imagine doves being released to this song on the day I leave this world. “And I think to myself, what a wonderful world it is…”.
Funeral songs that will open the floodgates
These songs are designed to help get all the tears out, which is very important. You need to be able to feel your feelings at a service, and these songs will help you do that:
5. “Feels Like Home” – Chantal Kreviazuk
In the movie "My Sister's Keeper" there's a scene where this song plays and I cried the first time I heard it. Truly classic.
6. “Asleep” – The Smith’s
It could be argued that the Smith’s are one of the most talented bands of all time. Even though this song is a little “dark”, the lullaby-like melody makes it a great choice to play at a funeral. The lyrics are very comforting, with the words “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 undeniably one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. I feel that it truly embodies the essence of the song that every living soul is in love with. Not only does it help you reflect the life lived, but it also inspires you to fix your mistakes in life.
8. “Blower’s Daughter” – Damien Rice
Although the lyrics cut me deep, there is something about this song that is quite romantic. I can imagine that playing at a funeral will make for a very solemn and beautiful experience.
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:
9.“Halo (Acoustic)” – Beyonce
This version of the famously known song by the Queen of pop. She was performed for a child who was terminally ill in the hospital, and it really touched our hearts. Her lyrics, the way she sings them, and her love for you are magical.
10.“Only For You” – Heartless Bastards
Although this song is a great expression of love without being all big and ballad-y, it is a great song that will take you into a love trance.
11.“I’ll Be Seeing You” – Billie Holiday
As it was so infamously played in the cry-festival of a movie, we are in love with a movie that is classic for long time lovers. We love a good romantic story. Why? Because it's the story of love, and love is magical.
Funeral songs that are inspiring and uplifting
Once all the tears have been shed, there is a beauty that is joy and bold and powerful, and these songs truly embody that:
12.“Follow the Sun” by Xavier Rudd
This is a song I wrote that really represents life as we are living it, and the circle of life that we are living these beautiful moments of coming together to celebrate life.
13.“Everywhere” – Michelle Branch
"Cause you’re everywhere to me and when I close my eyes it’s you I see.You’re everything I know. With the verses that are so perfectly suited for days when you are feeling down, the drops of inspiration seem to provide you with a bit of that inner confidence you’ll need. Even if you lose a loved one, they’re always with us, and this song says it beautifully so!
14.“Wherever You Will Go” – The Calling
Like Michelle Branch says, this song really reminds us that we can always keep our loved ones close with us. This song is really great for the times of mourning when you are looking at pictures, memories, and remembering in an uplifting kind of way.
15.“Spirit In The Sky” – Norman Greenbaum
This song is a crowd-pleaser and 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 someone is celebrating their life, or a beautiful outdoor event, these songs will get them up out of their chairs and dancing even if the mood strikes:
16.“Drops of Jupiter” – Train
This song is a really great song for a promotional sort of release – whether it’s some sort of balloon, confetti, or a dove.It reminds us of the great open sky that shows us where heaven is. Plus, it is a classic that everyone loves.
17.“I’ve Had The Time Of My Life” – Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes
Who do you know who doesn’t love the film Dirty Dancing? It’s a classic! If you have dancing at your celebration of life. This is the perfect last dance song!
18.“Forever Young” – Rod Stewart
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
There is nothing to do with death at all, but there is something about this song that reminds me of a New Orleans jazz funeral procession that I quite enjoy. Give it a listen.
Funeral songs that will make you laugh…
Now that we’ve got the important stuff out of the way, let’s bring the fun back by listening to some songs that truly define “celebration of life”. These songs are perfect for those who are not looking for a traditional funeral, and perhaps 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 strangely singing and soft, sweet and reassuring… 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 song. And 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 bit of perspective, even during the most dire of times.
23. “Prop Me Up Beside The Jukebox (If I Die)” – Joe Diffie
This is a song that will get everyone talking about the good times at a funeral. It is uplifting, comforting, and you definitely can’t beat Joe Diffie's vocals. My favorite part of the song? “Fix me up with a mannequin, just remember, I like blondes...I will 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 that his most popular request is to play songs to a funeral. Something about this song makes me want to dance like a way to celebrate someone who has a sense of humor.
25. “Highway to Hell” – ACDC
Perhaps the most edgy of the songs on this album, this song is a perfect compliment to the theme of the song entitled “edgy”.
The official “Top Funeral Songs to Celebrate Life” playlist
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If your funeral service seems like the place where you're constantly arguing with people, this infographic can give you a heads up on best way to handle these proceedings.