20 Best Funeral Songs of All Time to Honor Someone’s Life

Written by: Cody

Updated: Jun 21, 2022

Music can make or break the mood, regardless of the setting in which it is played. This is especially true for funerals where a sorrowful, gloomy atmosphere is commonplace.

What’s great about music as a whole is that it can reinforce the emotions or suppress them, as well as take them in a completely different direction. With a good playlist of funeral songs, you’ll be able to make the bereaved a bit more comfortable, elevate their mood, and let them know they are not alone.

To say proper farewells to the dearly departed, I’ve compiled a list of the top funeral songs for your convenience.

What Are the Best Funeral Songs of All Time?

These are the top 20 most popular funeral songs.

1. “Hallelujah” By Leonard Cohen

Hallelujah is among the handful of songs that would feel appropriate at any given point. Aside from the fact that it is so well-composed, performed, and lyrically powerful, Leonard’s voice makes it as strong as it is.

While many would argue that the original version is more fitting for funerals, I believe the newly remastered Hallelujah is not as dark and depressing. It’s truly a tune to celebrate life and to say the final goodbye with a hopeful, honest smile.

Hallelujah transcends music genres, but more importantly, it transcends generations. Having been written in 1984, it’s one of the most globally renowned songs more than three decades later.

2. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” By Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

This Hawaiian summer song was originally received as a tune to enjoy in over a few beers and a campfire. With the premature passing of Kamakawiwo’ole in 1997, it became his final, most beautiful artistic gift to the world and rose high among the ranks of the best funeral songs.

“Somewhere Over the Rainbow” is a simple, slow-paced tune that is ideal for situations when silence needs to be replaced by something that reminds us of hope.

3. “If You’re Reading This” By Tim McGraw

I genuinely don’t think there’s a sadder army funeral song than “If You’re Reading This”. It’s a song detailing the thought process of many fallen soldiers, reassuring their mothers not to worry, and saying goodbye to the loved ones they saw for the last time.

The orchestral element makes it truly special; the violin strings create such a heavenly atmosphere that it’s almost impossible not to immerse yourself in it.

From start to finish, “If You’re Reading This” is a masterpiece that could evoke a storm of emotions in an everyday situation, let alone a funeral. Sometimes, that’s exactly what is needed to vent all the sadness.

4. “When a Blind Man Cries” By Deep Purple

As the lyrics go, “When a blind man cries, there ain’t a sadder thing.” Although the lyrics of this tune may be gloomy, the blues-rock guitar paired with the iconic Deep Purple Hammond organ makes “When a Blind Man Cries” a perfect fit for a funeral.

The composition itself is an artistic masterpiece, and if the departed, or the bereaved family, were musicians, there is a good chance that this song will take their minds elsewhere, if for a moment.

5. “Weep You No More, Sad Fountains” By Sting

If classical and contemporary music were to ever blend, Sting would be their catalyst. “Weep You No More, Sad Fountains” is a beautiful aria that feels like it was specifically made for a funeral.

The angelic guitar sounds accompanied by Sting’s pitch-perfect voice are the main reasons why it’s widely regarded as one of the best funeral songs of all time.

6. “I’m No Stranger to the Rain” By Keith Whitley

There are hundreds of country songs that you can play at a funeral, but “I’m No Stranger to the Rain” is the one that can make the attendants forget the pain of losing an important person for a brief moment instead of drowning in it.

This is an upbeat country song that can serve as a gentle reminder that after the rain comes the sun, bringing rays of hope and a brand-new day to look forward to.

7. “The Sounds of Silence” By Simon & Garfunkel

At its core, “The Sounds of Silence” is a song that criticizes the poor communication between humans, and how deeply it can affect our emotional wellbeing. However, if you play it at a funeral, it can be interpreted in a completely different light.

Melancholic and slow-paced, “The Sounds of Silence” is embodied in the muteness of a funeral procession, only to be interrupted by the occasional weeping noises. It may not be the most pleasant funeral song, but it’s a song that certainly fits the atmosphere.

8. “Dust in the Wind” By Kansas

Probably one of Kansas’s most popular songs, “Dust in the Wind” reminds us that life is brief and should be embraced in all of its avenues.

Although some may be under the impression that this song is about the insignificance of the individual (as “dust in the wind”), it is actually about the importance of life, the ones we hold dear, and the irreplaceable moments that will live on forever.

This track is an essential part of every funeral song playlist, as it is among the most uplifting tunes ever to have been created.

9. “Tears in Heaven” By Eric Clapton

“Tears in Heaven” is a surprisingly simple song that follows a straightforward pattern. Eric’s soothing voice and guitar mastery are enough to declare it an amazing tune from the get-go, but the recurrence of the word “Heaven” is what makes it fit for a funeral.

Most people are in some degree of confusion while attending a funeral, and by repeating it, Eric evokes the notion that the departed was sent on to the right destination.

10. “The Show Must Go On” By Queen

Freddie Mercury and Queen are globally famous for their super-positive personalities, joy-filled songs, and larger-than-life personalities. “The Show Must Go On” is one of the few darker songs on their catalog (alongside All Dead, All Dead, and Love of my Life).

This tune is immeasurably sadder and colder for people that know that Freddie recorded it practically from his deathbed. The title says itself, “The Show Must Go On”, the life, the joy, and new generations need to overcome the painful burdens and emerge as stronger people.

11. “Farewell My Friend” By Dennis Wilson

An honest goodbye put into a song with minimal instrumentation and effects to hinder the track’s message would be the best way to describe “Farewell My Friend.”

This is one of the tunes that should ideally close the playlist of funeral songs, as it is both quite short and rather direct.

12. “If Tomorrow Never Comes” By Garth Brooks

This is a classic funeral song that can’t be any more honest and heartfelt than it already is. It reminds us that the power of love transcends life and death and that living true to its ideals means a life well spent, even “If Tomorrow Never Comes.”

More importantly, Garth sends a very powerful message with this track. So many people never used the opportunity to speak their hearts and minds to the people they care about, and “If Tomorrow Never Comes” wants us to live our lives without regret.

Read Next: The 34 Saddest Songs of All Time

13. “Hurt” By Johnny Cash

One of Johnny Cash’s most popular songs is actually about his degrading health. It could be interpreted in a number of ways, but both the lyrics and the melodies fit the atmosphere of a funeral.

Although it may be one of the most depressing songs he ever released, “Hurt” ends on a positive note. It tells a story to value life, avoid the many temptations it may throw your way, and persevere in trying times.

14. “This I Love” By Guns N’ Roses

Most people know GNR for Slash’s amazing solos and Axl’s robust vocals. The band has a much gentler side which is embodied in “This I Love” through and through.

This song may have been originally designed as a break-up song, but the lyrics, the melancholic piano, and Axl’s singing can fit the scenery of an emotional funeral easily. “This I Love” is among the best funeral songs to play for the ones that have lost their significant others prematurely.

In my opinion, “This I Love” reinforces the notion that love is eternal and that saying “goodbye” does not have to mean parting with the person entirely. It sends a message that the spirit and love live on, alongside the beautiful memories and all the wonders the departed person has graced the world with.

15. “Roadside” By Rise Against

The shock of losing an important person in your life is often followed by a notion of uncertainty coupled with doubts, regrets, and a state of all-around confusion. It is also perfectly normal to feel this way, and that’s precisely what “Roadside” is about.

It is certainly not easy finding the answers to all the “what now” questions, and even though “Roadside” doesn’t provide them, it tells the listener that they are not alone.

The sad acoustic guitar is almost background music; the vocals are enough to bring anyone to tears, but the overall purpose of this song is to remind all funeral attendants that they are bonded with their thoughts and prayers, sharing the painful burden so that those that suffer the most can feel at least an ounce lighter.

16. “Time After Time” By Cyndi Lauper

There are several reasons why a classic love song is a good fit for a funeral playlist. The upbeat nature of this song is not as “aggressively” positive as it can be in certain pop songs, but it’s the lyrics that set this song apart from the majority of the tunes on this list.

The refrain of “Time After Time” can be perceived as something the departed would say to their beloved family and friends. It’s quite common to think of the ones we’ve lost as spiritual guardians of sorts, and this song works like a charm in creating such an atmosphere.

17. “The Power of Love” By Celine Dion

The stronger the love is, the harder it hurts when the person we care for is taken from us. “The Power of Love” is here as a reminder that love’s strength remains. It’s a track that the bereaved can use to reminisce about the good times and nourish those pleasant memories each day.

Celine’s gorgeous voice accompanied by smooth melodies and beats should be more than strong enough to elevate the spirits of the listeners while the deep, heartfelt lyrics feel more than appropriate for a funeral of a partner.

18. “To Where You Are” By Josh Groban

When someone loses a dear friend, a parent, or their significant other, if there is something they could wish for, it would be to see and hold them one last time. The track “To Where You Are” puts such feelings into a melody, and an angelic one at that.

With the lyric “a breath away’s not far to where you are,” this song is more than qualified to be considered one of the best funeral songs of all time, although it possesses a plethora of other qualities, such as Josh’s soaring voice, impeccable orchestration, and hope-inspiring piano licks.

19. “Goodbye My Friend” By Linda Ronstadt

“Goodbye My Friend” has everything a funeral song should have. Lyrically, it evokes powerful emotions and is likely to trigger an avalanche of emotions; musically, the minimalistic piano and guitars pave the way for Linda’s sweet voice to reach the funeral attendants’ hearts.

It’s a simple song that you could open or close the playlist, or put in the middle to even out the pace after a string of the most intense tunes.

20. “Spirit In The Sky” By Norman Greenbaum

This song is perfect for a funeral because it’s so upbeat and happy, but also contains an undercurrent of seriousness.

It’s hopeful, cheerful, and full of lyrics like “Gotta have a friend in Jesus” and “When you die and they lay you to rest you’re gonna go to the place that’s the best”

It’s also really catchy and uplifting, which makes it a great choice for funerals where you want to lighten the mood with something fun but not too frivolous.

Wrap Up

Funerals tend to be heavy, no matter how great the catering or, how beautiful the day is. However, with the best funeral songs playing in the background, you can contribute to the atmosphere of the funeral service substantially.

The best funeral songs are the ones that can make a positive impact. What you define as ‘positive impact’ is up to you; that’s why I’ve included songs that could soothe the spirit, raise the mood, and inspire the living to endure and remember how beautiful life is, at the end of the day.

About Cody
Cody is the founder of Musician Tuts, a free tutorial hub for musicians. He has over 15 years of experience playing a variety of instruments and dabbling in audio engineering. He spends his days blogging, listening to Spotify, and playing music.

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