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Top Funeral Songs

Updated on December 18, 2015

Top Funeral Songs


Top Funeral Songs

It may sound strange at first, and it is not up to par with getting your financial, emotional, personal, spiritual affairs in order, but having a funeral song list would perhaps be the lasting memory people have of you. Or maybe you are searching for special songs for a newly departed loved one.

Using memories of their/your life is of course, a good starting point. A little nostalgia, a little emotion, a little humor - all of these are valid considerations.

Although we started with the idea this would be a Top 10 list, it has grown way beyond that. We will attempt to incorporate the appropriate suggestions we receive. So, our Top 10 list is now at 15 and counting ...

How Great Tho Art - Elvis

Perhaps the best voice the world has ever heard - Elvis Presley. If you have never heard Elvis' version of this great hymn, do yourself a favor and listen! This was a staple during his live shows and shows what a great gospel voice he had. His early gospel recordings showed the passion he had for his music in the beginning years. Unfortunately, his fame and fans caught up with him as he spiraled out of control in his last years. At least we can still enjoy these powerful pre-fame recordings.

How Great Thou Art - Elvis

Go Rest High on That Mountain - Vince Gill

It seems like this song has been around for many decades, but it is much newer than people realize. Vince Gill first started writing this song after the death of fellow country superstar, Keith Whitley, in 1989. The song was not completed, however, until after the death of Gill's older brother Bob, in 1993. "Go Rest High on That Mountain" was finally released on August, 28, 1995, and went on to win CMA's song of the year in 1996. Some people believe this is Gill's best performance.

My Way - Frank Sinatra

If the dearly departed was anything but a piece of paper floating in the ocean, this song would be appropriate. An anthem for innovation, individuality, fighting the system, it is also a Blue Eye's top 3 (New York New York and Strangers in the Night).

My Way - Elvis Presley

Alright, most of you probably did not even know that Elvis did a cover version of this song. Obviously, it does not have the same feel as the classic Frank Sinatra version. It is Elvis, after all. He may have had some bad live performances during the end years, but his recordings were always world class. You may actually like this version, as a different song.

Unforgettable - Nat King Cole & Natalie Cole

Similar to My Way, without the edginess and with a little sweetness, this song also concentrates on the character and legacy aspects of ones life. Although some purists would prefer Nat King Cole's classic original version, the posthumous mixing with his namesake daughter is my preference.It combines the incredible technology of being able to even pull this off with the predictable seamless melting together of the two DNA-linked voices. Your ears will be happy you took them on this journey.

Tears in Heaven - Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton wrote this song to help deal with the untimely and sudden death of his four-year-old son in 1991. Although it fits in much better when a child has tragically passed away, it should be considered in other situations as well. You can feel the emotion going through Eric's hear, fingers, and then the guitar. His cracking voice really adds the velvety touch to this song.

Friends - Michael W. Smith

This 1983 classic is become an anthem for youth whose lives have been tragically shortened. It speaks of the brothers/sisters in Christ transcending our earthly bodies, carrying to our Heavenly Homes. A tear or two may be produced during this one.

Knocking on Heaven's Door - Guns & Roses

Some people prefer this version to the classic original by Bob Dylan. The falsetto of Axel Rose could be a double-edged sword in the voting for this song.

When We All Get To Heaven

What funeral song list would be complete without acknowledging the destination of the decedent, as long as they were a Christian, of course. Not only is this s comforting song as far as knowing the rest of us Christians will see this person in Heaven, it is also a pleasing song to the ears. It is hard to go wrong with Alan Jackson's powerful vocals.

Knocking on Heaven's Door - Bob Dylan

The original, but the opinions are probably close to 50/50. There is no controversy with the predictable Bob Dylan vocals for this one. Most people are not aware that this song is from the 1973 movie, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid.

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life - Eric Idle

We did promise you humor in the beginning of this journey. Well, some may remember this song from the 1979 film, Monty Python's Life of Brian. Some may remember the version with an added verse for the London 2012 Olympics or a different added version for England's - albeit short - appearance in the 2014 World Cup. It is apparently popular at soccer matches in England as well as, of course, funerals worldwide.

Turn Turn Turn - The Byrds

Since Chapter 3 of the Book of Ecclesiastes is quoted in this song, some people have always believed that the Byrds were a religious group. The song is more of an anti-war, world peace song. Obviously, the call for distinct seasons of life, and the pleasant harmonies make it a natural for this type of celebration.

Hallelujah - Bon Jovi

For us Bon Jovi fans, there has to be at least one song on the list from Jon and Richie. Some may prefer versions by Leonard Cohen or Jeff Buckley or Rufus Wainwright or Bob Dylan or one of the other over 300 cover versions. Well, you get the idea. Certainly a classic song enjoyed by many singers and listeners. Just pick your favorite or any of the top 25 versions.

Let it Be - The Beatles

This song might make it on most people's top 10 of all time. It is hard to not have "Let it Be" on this list. The incredible piano, Paul's vocals, the harpsichord, the guitar/piano interplay. Peaceful is normally the word I think of with this song.

There are a few obscure Beatles songs that you may also want to consider for this memories event:

--- Across the Universe

--- Because

--- Golden Slumbers

--- I'm Only Sleeping

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace certainly has to be on your list. Although a song of faith, it seems to transcend religious boundaries. We have several options for you below. Elvis, a bagpipe version, Chris Tomlin's Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone). There are literally hundreds of versions from a dozen different genres.

You Raise Me Up - Selah

If you have ever listened to "You Raise Me Up" by Selah, it has such a peaceful and majestic sound. It is a great song of encouragement yet seems like it fits quite well in a celebration of life context. There are also versions by Westlife and Josh Groban, which are both excellent.

With a Little Help from My Friends - Joe Cocker

Not really sure if this was played at Ole Joe's own funeral, but his cover of the classic Beatles song seems appropriate at the memorial of others. We are currently working on a Top 10 Joe Cocker Hub that should be out soon. Obviously, this song will be there.

What A Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong

This 1967 song by the one and only Louis Armstrong was inspired by a perceived hopeless world of the 1960's. Looking back at that world today, who would not want those "problems?" Actually, the song is full of hope for a future with some suggestions. Armstrong is credited with helping ease racial tension with this song.

This song was actually used as the theme song for the first five episodes of "Family Matters."


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    • kevin murphy-87 profile image

      kevin murphy 3 years ago from Ireland

      Interesting subject. Ill agree with kotobukijake and say that amazing grace is a must, preferably on the bagpipes.

      a song that always reminds me of funerals is Run by Snow Patrol.

    • kotobukijake profile image

      kotobukijake 3 years ago

      Interesting list, and perhaps more freakishly timely than I'd like. When my cousin died, they played "Go Rest High on that Mountain" for him, and so the song's always had a special place in my heart. I'll likely ask them to play "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" when the time comes for my own sendoff, as well as "This Side" by Nickel Creek (not a clean fit in general, but for many...). Also, one might consider "What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong, maybe the old gospel tune "Keep on the Sunny Side." Also, no "Amazing Grace?" Nice hub, and thanks for the distraction.