songs to play at your funeral

I was talking to my business partner the other day, bantering on like we do sometimes and he came out of the blue with a statement that made me think, which is a rarity.  Not… he making a statement to make me think, but me thinking in general. 

“I want that song played at my funeral.”  He said it seriously.

I was only half listening before, you know how you do.  Your mind on something else and you’re giving token lip service and a few head nods just to keep yourself in the conversation then all of a sudden something serious makes your ears perk up and you say…  

“What song?”

“Walking on the Moon.”

“By the Police?”


“You mean… la la la, ‘I hope my legs don’t break… walkin’ on the moon…’ that song?”

“Yeah, have you ever listened to the words… it’s great.”

“For your funeral?”

“Yeah.” and he commenced singing the song until I said, “I could come up with a better song than that!”

“Let’s hear it.” 

So I thought for a moment.  “‘My Way” by Sinatra?”

“Naw, everybody chooses that one.”

“Yeah, and if I had ‘my way’ I probably wouldn’t be dead.”


“How ’bout, “Lord Have Mercy on My Soul” by Black Oak Arkansas?”

“Mmm… might be okay.”

“How about, ‘”Long As I Can See the Light”‘ by Creedence?”

So I started, “Put a candle in the window… ’cause I feeeeeel I got to mooooove…”

He said, “Yeah, that’s a good one.” 

I said, “I’m sure there are others better than ‘Walkin’ on the Moon’, that’s just silly.” 

He said, “I like that song.” 

“For your funeral?”


I said, “I’m going to write about this.” 

He said, “Cool.”

Perhaps this conversation would have just faded into the gray, foreboding topics of morbidity that one would sooner forget about but my mind (and you know how my mind works) just wouldn’t let it be.  Especially when my own true love had just mentioned a day or two before (when I was only half listening, giving token lip service and a few head nods to keep me in the conversation) that SHE wanted that song played at her funeral.  No, not ‘Walking on the Moon’.  But a song I hadn’t heard of before called, “Time to Say Goodbye” by Sarah Brightman.

“Is it sad?”  I asked.

“Of course it’s sad, silly.”  She replied. (I marvel at her wisdom)

“Why would you want to play a sad song at your funeral?  Isn’t the funeral sad enough?”  I asked, rather proud of my logic.

“Because it is a beautiful song.”  She assured me.  ( I am so taken by her sentiment)

So I seriously started to think of songs that might be appropriate for MY funeral, which… by the way… is a LONG ways from now, a long… long ways… like hardly worth mentioning now because it is like… way far away from this very moment here that we are talking about.  Like years, decades from now…

Anyway, I thought of Tina Turner’s song, “Unlucky Creature” which I thought would be very self serving and make everybody feel guilty and wish they had treated me better.


“Just call me an unlucky creature….

and when I die, dig no hole for my grave. 

Just cremate my body… and throw the ashes to the sea,

’cause nobody ever cared about me.”

Oh… boo hoo, but you get the idea.  Beautifully sung with a lot of emotion as only Tina could do.

Then I thought of an old, obscure Roger Miller song called, “One Dyin’ and a Buryin'” which is about a suicide… a man that has lost his love and can’t face the world without her.


“One dyin’ and a buryin’

one dyin’ and a buryin’.

Some cryin’

six carryin’ me…

I wanna be free.”


But again, that is another “make the attendees feel bad song” and funerals should be about remembering the good times with/and the good traits of that person who has just kicked the bucket.  I thought of that song, “Whiskey Lullabye.”  (I have a copy of that on iTunes by Allison Krause and Brad Paisely) but there again… tearjerker.  “He Stopped Lovin’ Her Today” by George Jones would no doubt bring the house down.

I listened to my lover’s choice on Youtube.  While I didn’t understand most of it, the sentiment is very strong and she is right (I love it when she is right, which is most of the time… well, ALL the time) it is a very beautiful song.

So… what to play, what to play… I don’t know if I could choose one song to fit the mood of my being dead, because I’ve never actually been dead before.  “Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag” by Country Joe and the Fish might be appropo except I’d all ready be dead.  I can just hear the people in attendance thinking, “Why did he pick that song?  He’s all ready dead!”  (When you’re dead you can hear people’s thoughts)  Besides, he doesn’t actually sing, “feel like I’m fixin’ to die” it’s just the title of the song.  

I like “Sweet Chile O’ Mine” (the Sheryl Crow version) but that’s not really a funeral song, is it?  I mean, “Where do we go now?” is something I should have been thinking of long before my funeral.  I wondered about some song by Elvis but couldn’t think of anything except, “Hunka hunka Burnin’ Love” and for some reason I didn’t think “burnin'” would go over too well.  I love Roy Orbison’s song, “In Dreams” but then thought better of it because of the line, “But just before the dawn, I awake to find you gone…”  which doesn’t leave enough finality in it because it might lead the listener to believe I might pop back up at any minute.  I’d been leaning towards “Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again” by Bod Dylan because of the refrain, “oh… momma, could this really be the end?”  Besides, it’s about 10 minutes long and if I am limited to one song to sum up my entire existence I want it to be a marathon.

But seriously, songs to play at your funeral might be the next compilation CD!  Think about it and let me know your selections.

Make mine, “And I Love Her” by the Beatles.


 (Sarah Brightman appears below)

20 Responses to “songs to play at your funeral”

  1. songs to play at your funeral | Info for Funeral Preparation Says:

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  2. Irish Eyes Says:

    Years ago I told a co-worker that I wanted Garth Brook’s “The River” sung at my funeral. And I wanted her to sing it (she has an AWESOME voice). And I’m not really a big country/western fan. Just loved the lyrics and the melody. Haven’t heard of another one yet to replace that thought, but you have come up with some most excellent alternatives. 🙂 Thanks for the suggestions. After all, like you, I have a long, long time to perhaps find a new favorite funeral song.

  3. Chantal Says:

    That was very funny…..I marvel at your wit and how you put all that together.
    Here’s another suggestion: Céline Dion’s “Fly” but the original French version (her voice is much better in French).

    When I was a kid, I would cry at Seasons in the Sun.

    Here’s to a lifetime of compiling our funeral CDs…..

  4. Karen Says:

    “Candle in the Wind” I think is the title, by Elton John would be a good one. Not the version he did at Diana’s funeral, but the original. Or, in a sick & twisted note, his “The Bitch is Back”.

    Isn’t it a little early in your marriage for you to be pulling the 1/2 listening thing? I realize it’s a husband thing, as mine does it all the time, but really!

    Now to get my mind off this & try to get it back to business. Challenge.

  5. marge Says:

    I don’t know about songs but I do have a few that are just music that I want played.
    OF course I’m not having a funeral but a “Celebration of Life” when I leave this world.
    My two that are a MUST are “Nadia’s Theme” and “Lara’s Theme” I also like the music from “Forrest Gump” you know the part at the end with the feather flying around?
    Also am very fond of “The Dance” by Garth Brooks but not sure if that is a song for one passing on in this life.
    I also like “You Decorated My Life” by Kenny Rogers because everyone I meet and know and love have decorated my life in some way or the other.
    Still it is something to think about.

  6. chrisfiore5 Says:

    Hi Irish Eyes… now I’m definitely smilin’! Some songs just cross over so well it is difficult to put a label on them. I’m like you and Marge in that respect, some of Garth’s songs just stand in a class by themselves… glad to see you back again!

    Now Karen! The Bitch is Back? can you imagine the fall out on that one? Candle in the Wind (Goodbye, Norma Jean … the original) would be a good selection… but while you are at it, why not Rocket Man?… “and I think it’s gonna be a long, long time…”

    I agree with you, Marge, a “Celebration of Life” is more what I would have in mind, too… I love those instrumentals! And that is a a great analogy of Kenny Roger’s song, “You Decorated My Life.” It got so much airplay that I got sick of it, but now reflecting back I like it’s message even better. Would you believe that my business partner claims that not only would he have “Walkin’ on the Moon” played but he’s thinking about female mud wrestlers and sponsoring a golf tournament! Talk about a send off!

    Hello fair Chantal… mmm… a long and happy lifetime of seasons in the sun. 🙂

  7. Karen Says:

    Oh but there’s a reason for it, really! I explained it in a post this morning. All true.

  8. Music to be played at funerals « Karen’s Rant Page Says:

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  9. babychaos Says:

    I can see it now! The best 100 songs to be played at a funeral EVER!

    Interesting question though… I think the saddest one I heard about was “Search for the Hero” by M People. It was chosen by an girl of about 12 who’d died of lukemia, it was what she listened to when the treatment was getting a bit crap and everything was getting on top of her. My brother told me about it, he said there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

    I’d stipulate no black to be worn and leave at least two grand to pay for a big party. There’d be no tears except when people couldn’t help it and I’d want them to celebrate my life and exchange funny stories about me, not wail and cry. The song would probably be All you need is love. Also by the Beatles because Love really is all you need.

    Great post.



  10. Cyndi Says:

    Wow, this is all very interesting. I’ve had my songs picked since I was a teenager (and you know that was LONG ago). I always thought of “I Believe” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” I may need to rethink them now that I think about it. I also really liked “Seasons in the Sun” but it wouldn’t be an appropriate song for me. Must think about this, but myself I don’t want a party when I go (hopefully decades from now) I don’t want there to be a dry eye in the house. I’d like to think I’ll be missed.

    On another note, Sarah Brightman is the female singer on a CD I have of some of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s songs. Great stuff!

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  12. jazmine9 Says:

    OK- This is a great post. Thought-provoking and funny, to boot! I have just recently been giving this topic some thought myself, as a young friend of mine just died from cancer at 38. I was sitting in the church and then in the car afterward thinking about what I would like to have. For me, I thinks it’s I’ll Fly Away, by Allison Kraus (I think, from the O Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack) and a few others that involve the word dancing. You know, so they can picture me up in heaven dancing around with the angels! Seemed nice at the time, and I had a lot of really good ideas. Thinking about that certainly has to be an “in the moment” kind of thing.
    Thanks for the laugh, and on a more serious note, the reality that someday, we’re outta here!!

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