Top 10 funeral songs

by Richard on October 2, 2006

A survey of 5000 Britons carried out on behalf of The Bereavements Register has revealed the top 10 songs requested at funerals. And a strange list it is

1. Goodbye My Lover - James Blunt
2. Angels - Robbie Williams
3. I’ve Had the Time of My Life - Jennifer Warnes and Bill Medley
4. Wind Beneath My Wings - Bette Midler
5. Pie Jesu - Requiem
6. Candle in the Wind - Elton John
7. With or Without You - U2
8. Tears in Heaven - Eric Clapton
9. Every Breath You Take - The Police
10. Unchained Melody - Righteous Brothers

I wouldn’t say that any of these are always inappropriate to a funeral, but the notion that of all the music that has been produced over the centuries this represents the best choice for the occasion is frankly ludicrous. “Every breath you take”, for example, is a song about obsession, not love. And I’ve always thought that “Wind beneath my wings” is just plain offensive. “Candle in the wind” was a decent enough song until it was torpedoed by ‘Diana mania’. I could go on, but I won’t.

The serious point here is that there is a real danger that our society is losing the vocabulary to express grief in a meaningful, realistic way and at the same time retain hope and joy in the face of death. My experience is that Christians are often no better at this than those of no faith, sometimes attempting to make the funeral an occasions for an enforced jollity that leaves no room for sorrow to be articulated.

My worst experience in this respect was of having been told that there would be some music from a CD at the close of a service in the crematorium, only to discover after I had said the Benediction that what was played was Monty Python’s ‘Always look on the bright side of life’. There can be few who are bigger fans of Monty Python than I am, and for my money ‘The Life of Brian’ is their best work. But whilst it might be funny at the close of a film, it isn’t a song which has any place in what had been a service of Christian worship.

I’m sure that it is the right thing for the bereaved to have as much input into planning a funeral service as they feel they need. But it is surely the case that there have to be limits of acceptability and appropriateness. Drawing those limits is getting more and more difficult.

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Top 10 funeral songs | geilsupergeil
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Paul 10.02.06 at 1:59 pm

I agree with you about “Every Breath You Take”. Most people don’t realise it’s about stalking. “Tears in Heaven” is a bit odd too although it is at least about meeting again after death.

I have asked for “Stairway to Heaven” at my funeral. It is after all, as Robert Plant memorably said, “a song of hope”. I have also toyed with “Wish You Were Here” but the sentiment expressed actually belies the title.


Beth 10.02.06 at 2:18 pm

Whose Pie Jesu do they mean? I assume either Faure (okay) or Lloyd Webber (yuk!)

I’m not having “the bereaved” planning my funeral - bugger that! I shall be writing detailed instructions as to music, readings etc. After all, otherwise it will be left down to the likes of Kim ;)


Eugene McKinnon 10.02.06 at 2:45 pm

I have seen some horrible things done at funerals and I understand that the bereaved are not necessarily in control of their emotions. The worse thing I heard done was at the funeral of a fallen Canadian soldier. His brother told about how the two of them would have a beer at the end of the day. He then opened a bottle of beer, toasted his brother, and consumed it in the middle of an Anglican service.

As a future pastor in the Presbyterian Church in Canada I have a question for Richard and Kim. How do you help the bereaved through this, but not have funerals become so campy?


Eugene McKinnon


Kim 10.02.06 at 3:58 pm

Great post! A demonstration that we are a culture in denial of the inevitability of (suffering and) death, whose priests are the medical professionals and Levites the nascent cult of genetic engineers. Behind the denial lies the god of sentimentality whom we pray will rescue us from what Barth called the “shadow-side” of embodied life. Such false hopes flourish in societies which lack a shared meta-narrative, so that everyone must face his own death alone.

What funeral? Your mother and I are going to sneak down to the tip and chuck your corpse into the container for garden rubbish (”earth to earth”) - and then sing the most banal contemporary worship song we can think of! Then, on the way out, we will throw your “detailed instructions” into the recycling bin for paper products. :)


David Faulkner 10.02.06 at 4:20 pm

And one of the pastoral difficulties is getting the initial phone call from the funeral director (NB, definitely not undertaker - they like to direct) after the bereaved have already chosen the music. I was told by one funeral director that his duty was to provide whatever the bereaved relatives asked for, because they were the consumers of his product, and by implication he expected me to do so also. I explained that I was a Christian minister offering a Christian funeral, and that there would have to be some limits.

I once conducted the funeral of a woman who had danced with the Beatles at The Cavern. Her daughter had asked for John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’. I gently explained I would have a problem with that, due to the ‘no religion’ line (although there is plenty of religion I don’t want to see in the kingdom of God, of course!). She responded positively and we changed the music. We went out to their cover of ‘Twist And Shout’. :)

Oh, and there is one redeeming feature of this sappy Top Ten: no room at last for ‘My Heart Will Go On’. I have another story about that, but maybe another time.


Malc 10.02.06 at 4:48 pm

Apart from ‘Tears in Heaven’ which was the only song that I couldn’t bring to mind I see no problem with any of these songs being played at a funeral. I’m going to guess that the Bereavement Register didn’t limit their questions to services that were religious, otherwise I suspect that there would be more religious songs in the top 10.

Afterall, are the funerals for the deceased or for the relatives and friends of the deceased?? The Dead will have moved on to thier resting place long before their body has even gotton to the undertakers, so if the ceremony is for them, it is only for their bodies, and that is only flesh and bone in a box by this stage.

Or it is for the relatives, to help them remember the person that used to be, and in these modern times people do not make connections to hymns. They don’t, it’s a harsh truth, but there are more complementary songs out there that can move than there are hymns, at least hymns that I’ve come across in churches. And that includes four in the above top 10.

Personally, I’m trying to decide between Monty Pythons’ “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life” and “All Things Dull And Ugly” for my funeral…..


Ian McKenzie 10.02.06 at 5:08 pm

I’d like to see the list cross referenced to the list of top requested wedding songs. I’ve heard at least four of those on the above list used to “celebrate” marriage.


Beth 10.02.06 at 9:19 pm

Malc - you really don’t see the problem with some of these? “Wind Beneath My Wings” basically says “you were shit and no-one noticed you, and I had a great time using that to my own advantage all your life.”
“With Or Without You”? Gorgeous song, yes, but listen to the lyrics:

My hands are tied
My body bruised, she’s got me with
Nothing to win and
Nothing left to lose.

And, as has already been pointed out, “Every Breath You Take” is about divorce and obsession - “Oh, can’t you see you belong to me?”

Personally, I’d like to give a nod to all the mawkish “not dead but sleeping” stuff and have The Beatles “I’m Only Sleeping” for mine!

Kimmy - the day you get my mother singing a contemporary worship song is the day pigs fly. Give her methodist hymns, or give her death. (Or perhaps both, given the context of this post…)


malc 10.02.06 at 10:55 pm

Are we talking about the same ‘wind beneath my wings’ here…??

It must have been cold there in my shadow,
to never have sunlight on your face.
You were content to let me shine, that’s your way.
You always walked a step behind.

So I was the one with all the glory,
while you were the one with all the strain.
A beautiful face without a name for so long.
A beautiful smile to hide the pain.

Did you ever know that you’re my hero,
and everything I would like to be?
I can fly higher than an eagle,
for you are the wind beneath my wings.

It’s a song saying that without them, the singer would have been nothing. ‘So I was the one with all the glory, while you were the one with all the strain,’ yes, the singer is saying that they got all the rewards, but look at the verse before; ‘You were content to let me shine, that’s your way. You always walked a step behind.’

Yes, ‘Every Breath You Take’ by The Police is about stalking and obsession, but it can be taken other ways, it is ambigous enough. Remember, we’re talking about loosing someone through death;

“Since you’ve gone I’ve been lost without a trace
I dream at night, I can only see your face
I look around but it’s you I can’t replace
I feel so cold and I long for your embrace
I keep crying baby, baby please.”

And the same can be said with U2’s ‘With or Without You’. Someone who has lost someone might well feel that their hands are tied and their body is bruised.

In a secular time these are secular songs that work. How about from ‘Love Actually’ the Bay City Rollers - Bye, Bye, Baby (Baby Goodbye)


Kim 10.02.06 at 11:01 pm

Hey Ian.

What politically incorrect conclusion might one draw from the fact that funerals and weddings have many hymns in common? :) (And not only the ones you mention, but, e.g., “Love divine” and “The Lord’s my Shepherd”.)


Joel 10.03.06 at 12:34 pm

I love the Grateful Dead’s “Truckin’” — but at my funeral, er no.


tortoise 10.03.06 at 2:13 pm

The local radio station where I live carried this news item yesterday; someone rang in to say they’d been to a funeral that ended with The Jam “Goin’ Underground”.

And I daresay you’ve all come across the apocryphal story of a cremation where “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” was used.

But a really nice funeral music story that I heard once: the deceased had enjoyed a sideline as a crooner at pubs, working men’s clubs etc. To close the service, a tape was played of him singing some ballad or other… at the end of which his voice was heard saying “Thank you very much - goodnight.” There was not a dry eye in the church.


Dan 10.03.06 at 10:12 pm

Well, I haven’t given a whole lot of thought to the music that is played at my funeral (i.e. I don’t really care… I’ll be dead so play whatever the heck you want) but a good friend of mine has requested Janis Joplin’s “Mercedes-Benz” and I think that that’s not half bad. So without further ado:

Oh lord, won’t you buy me a mercedes benz?
My friends all drive porsches, I must make amends.
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends,
So lord, won’t you buy me a mercedes benz?

Oh lord, won’t you buy me a color tv?
Dialing for dollars is trying to find me.
I wait for delivery each day until three,
So oh lord, won’t you buy me a color tv?

Oh lord, won’t you buy me a night on the town?
Im counting on you, lord, please dont let me down.
Prove that you love me and buy the next round,
Oh lord, won’t you buy me a night on the town?

Oh lord, won’t you buy me a mercedes benz?
My friends all drive porsches, I must make amends,
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends,
So oh lord, won’t you buy me a mercedes benz?

That’s it!

Amen, sista.


Kimber 01.19.07 at 7:05 pm

I think Vince Gill’s song ” Go rest high on the mountain” is an appropriate song. After all he did write it for his brother that passed away. I always told my husband that I was gonna play “whiskey Lullaby” at his funeral. LOL.


demmi 03.13.07 at 6:39 pm

Good choices-i think mariah carey and boys 2 men ‘one sweet day” is a best type of loss song due to the fact its strong with the meaning it brings out


zach 08.29.07 at 7:05 am

i think i might have Fade To Black by Metallica


Isaac 09.22.07 at 4:29 pm

Isn’t the meaning of a song up the interpretors? Similar to poetry, the author may have one meaning and the reader another.


Tyler 09.26.07 at 1:18 am

Don’t Cry - Guns N’ Roses


ree 10.04.07 at 7:07 am

i feel, if the person wishes to pick the song they want for their funeral it would be serverly disrespectfull not to use that said song, the song reflects who they are as a person, isnt this what a funeral is all about, it is about a celebration of their life. i went to a funeral for a younge freind of mine, an her favourite song waws played, dolphines cry by live, i felt completely touched by this song, they also played eric claptons tears from heaven, this song brought about feelings they i had never experienced before in my life. but in ending, funerals are a celebration of a live, celebrate with whatever song the deceased would heve sang right along with you too.


lulu 11.15.07 at 11:04 pm

I’m in the process of choosing a song for my mothers funeral and am torn between ‘tears in heaven’ which represents my feelings towards her death, or ‘crazy’ by julio iglesias which she loved…she never had a song picked so i’m unsure of which to go for…


Laura x 01.29.08 at 11:20 pm

How many songs can you have?
I have alot of choices and music plays a big part of my life…so having alot of my favourite songs would be good..

So here goes…
Robbie williams Angels
Oaisis stop crying your heart out, champagne supernova, half the world away, wonderwall & live forever (as you can probably tell, i’m a huge fan of oasis.!)
Coldplay Yellow & The scientist.
Boyzone picture of you
Lighthouse family high
Evanescence my immortal
the calling wherever you will go
sarah mclachlan angel
Boyz ii Men; It’s the same old song/Reach out i’ll be there
Janet jackson together again
R kelly & celine dion i’m your angel
faith hill there you’ll be
ronan keating when you say nothing at all

well there’s my list..long i know..and i’m sure there’s plenty more i would like…


Robbo 02.19.08 at 12:38 pm

My personal plans for my funeral are very simple :-

My friend Jim will stand up and sing an unaccompanied sea shanty

Then they will play “Stairway to Heaven” very, very loud - the whole thing from beginning to end, staying quiet until the last note fades away.

Then everybody will leave, go back to my place and get raging drunk.

That’s it!


James Gallagher 03.08.08 at 3:36 pm

I think postcards from heven by the lighthouse family is a great farewell song. ANY THOUGHTS OR IDEAS?


Heather 03.08.08 at 10:51 pm

I’m a nurse & one of our poor souls died last year & he requested Monty Python’s ‘Always look on the bright side of life’
His family loved it & it gave them great joy, what’s wrong with that? For those that make requests it is about how they want others to remember them.
Someone wanting to be remembered for something happy rather than the crap in their lives is no bad thing.
A funeral should be about celebrating someones life. Where is the Christian value in knocking someone elses beliefs or choices! Doesn’t god come in many forms?


Richard 03.08.08 at 11:19 pm

There’s nothing wrong with it, Heather — except that it doesn’t fit into the context of a *Christian* funeral. You can’t proclaim “the sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life” and then “Life is quite absurd, and death’s the final word” with any integrity. At least, I don’t think so.


Beth 03.09.08 at 2:09 am

My mum wants “I don’t believe in miracles”, sung by Roy Bailey (sorry, can’t find a link to the lyrics). She’s not a Christian, but I’m intending for her to have a Christian funeral. Not that she’s ever going to die, of course, so it’s all hypothetical… still, I can imagine it causing some difficulties.

I want “Spirit in the Sky” by Doctor and the Medics at mine.


Hizzle 04.02.08 at 8:21 am

You people all are just looking into this waaaaay too much. Most of the people who chose songs at funerals do so because they feel they would be unable to maintain composure to speek.
And HONESTLY who cares what song they pick, obviously that song has some deeper meaning to them then anyone else could understand, so instead of imposing your beliefs on other people why don’t you let them be. Not everyone is the same, not everyone has a problem “imagine no religion”… what is the problem with that?? Imagine is a great song that reminds people to be thankful for what they have. but seriously Imagine there was no religion??… the world would probably be a better place!! All wars are started over religion! DUH! What ever. How about YOU play twist and shout at your funeral, and let other people pay their respects how they choose.


Josef Davis 05.10.08 at 2:38 pm

How about “Are you dead yet by Chilren of Bodom” ?


Allan Heaton 05.10.08 at 6:52 pm

maybe : Another one bites the dust- Queen?


Tim 05.13.08 at 11:53 am

All I can say is that I’m glad none of you are my pastor. A funeral is for grieving and, frankly, for the family. The way in which they choose to grieve is not yours to decide or judge. If they choose to grieve with sad songs, so be it. If they choose to celebrate and laugh over the stories of their loved one, so be it. If their loved one was a sports fan and they decide that he should go out to “take me out to the ball game”, so freaking be it. I once attended a funeral in which the loved one was a star trek fan. When his coffin was rolled into the chapel, his mother stood and saluted him with the Vulkin hand sign. Weird? Yeah, a little. Touching and absolutely appropriate? For sure.

Reading through the gospels, I’m pretty happy to say that Jesus wasn’t nearly the stick in the mud that many of you are. Enjoy your very structured and very appropriate grieving processes!


dancingapril 06.01.08 at 7:02 am

“A Whiter Shade of Pale”…

Irony, reality, mystery that describes how we all feel loved and alone at the same time…


dh 06.03.08 at 9:44 pm

Well, what would one say about Mr. Mister’s “Take these broken wings” as a funeral song? Okay that really is “bad” on my part.
Okay the “baby” lyric in the song is a little much in reference to God but one really needs to “stretch” the lyrics a “few thousand miles” to get to even the possibility as this being a lyric in a funeral let alone some (I’m cringing as strong as I know) “theological aspect” (again a “thousand mile stretch”).

Humorous nonetheless. :)


Stefan 06.05.08 at 10:56 pm

I’ll definitely go for Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon album.
Yes, the whole album.


harvey 06.15.08 at 12:25 pm

Christian funeral = hope because death is not the end. Jesus resurrection enables us to sing with conviction all the stuff about “we’ll meet again etc…” If we are wrong, its okay, we still get to have hope and a sense of the eternal which is something to look forward to, despite being mistaken. But what if we are right? I’d want to be pretty sure about Jesus conquering death by rising from the dead or not before I just wrote Him off and dreamed up whatever I liked in its place!


dh 06.16.08 at 3:49 pm

Well Harvey, isn’t it great to know that you/we are not wrong and that there WILL be the resurrection from the dead? Not is it great to know that Jesus is alive today but that we as Believers will “meet Him in the air and so shall we ever be for Eternity.” in light of the Epistle’s “encourage each other with these words.”


ACS 06.30.08 at 4:46 pm

“To Where You Are” by Josh Groban was played at my uncles funeral and was absolutely beautiful.


Beth 07.01.08 at 11:04 am

I’m going to have something utterly sublime at mine, like Tallis’s Sancte Deus, preferably sung live by a really, really good choir. Luckily most of my friends are classical singers, so shouldn’t be a problem (unless they’re all too old and defunct by then, in which case their children will have to do it!)

But as for non-classical music, I guess I’d go for “She’s an Angel” by They Might Be Giants.

“When you’re following an angel
Does it mean you have to throw your body off a building?
Somewhere they’re meeting on a pinhead
Calling you an angel, calling you the nicest things
I heard they had a space program
When they sing you can’t hear, there’s no air
Sometimes I think I kind of like that and
Other times I think I’m already there.”

Best band ever.


Ade 07.18.08 at 5:26 am

I’m going with the beautiful (and rather applicable to me) and heartwarming number by AC/DC - Highway to hell.

then during the wake I want foo fighters - i will com back


William Broad 08.11.08 at 1:01 am

Dear friends by Queen. Says it all really, only just over a minute long and should reduce you to tears. After all isn’t all these songs for the people left in the land of the living to cry over. I want everyone at my funeral to be bawling their eyes out, saying how wonderful a person i was. All three of them.


Omunene 08.13.08 at 1:46 am

Pre-service: Cantata BWV 140 (Wachet auf!) [Bach]
Processional: Dead March from Saul [Handel]
Ave Maria [Biebl]
Otche Nash [Kedrov]
Beim Schlafengehen [Strauss]
Hostias from Requiem [Verdi]
In Paradisum from Requiem [Faure]
Recessional: I’m Going Home from Rocky Horror Picture Show [O'Brien]

It will be a long funeral but then I’ve lived a long life :-)


Sue 08.18.08 at 4:36 pm

I’d highly recommend a humanist service which is what we arranged for my father last year. Everyone said it was one of the nicest ceremonies they’d attended as it truly celebrated his life. We had Cavatina and The Look of Love as my dad was a guitarist and they were two of his favourite pieces.


Keith 08.22.08 at 5:15 pm

The essay at the top - what a ****! My dad’s funeral coming up is to celebrate his life and who he was, including his sense of humour. He wants “Always look on the Bright Side of Life” and has done for years. I wouldn’t dream of letting some ***** tell me he couldn’t have that. Anyone who wouldn’t get my dad’s sense of humour doesn’t need to be there. I accept that it’s not appropriate all the time, but that’s dependant on the person, not the event. Why should we make funerals morbid. The time is morbid anyway, so if the person it is for wants it to be more upbeat surely we owe that to them. Limits of acceptability and appropriateness? Yes I’d like to put the limit on closed minded people!


Beth 08.24.08 at 11:10 pm

Keith, if you want to have a religious funeral, then you don’t ask to include anti-religious things in it. I’m sorry, but there it is. The Life of Brian is a genius film, and I love the song, but it’s wrong to ask Christians to incorporate it into a religious service.

We’ve come to see Christian sacred rites (weddings, baptisms, funerals) as the personal property of the main participant(s), but they’re not. They are first and foremost rites of the church, and the church (or its reprasentative) hsa the right not to allow a piece of music or text or anything else to be present at such services if they are directly contradictory to its teachings.

Why don’t you go and ask your local imam or rabbi to conduct the service for you instead? I guarantee you that there would be a lot more than your choice of music that they would object to - not because they’re “closed-minded” but because, unlike many Christians, they have not forgotten the supremacy of God’s commandments over personal whims.


Lynds 10.08.08 at 11:02 am

Just want to say how difficult it is to plan the funeral of my semi-religous Dad, with the service in church, when my brothers and I are not religious at all. He died suddenly and there isn’t time to organise a humanist service, and our Mum wouldn’t want it. Many of the readings and hymns suggested by the vicar make us uncomfortable, but we also appreciate thata his church is his domain. However it’s a dificult marriage to blend traditional religon with modern music and poetry. Dad was a great beleiver in humour, but so far we’ve not felt comfortable in introducing this aspect, and you should have seen the minister’s face when we proferred the theme tune to ‘Tom and Jerry’ as the opening tune… So I think we three will endure for the sake of his elderly family and friends that will be there. Anyway for us, celebrating his life at the reception afterwards by viewing his many photos and cine films (and downing a few glasses of good wine!), will be our way of showing that he still lives on in our minds and hearts.


Sylvia 11.02.08 at 3:55 pm

Try “To a dancer” by Jackson Browne.


Tony Buglass 11.03.08 at 12:09 am

Lynds: “you should have seen the minister’s face when we proferred the theme tune to ‘Tom and Jerry’ as the opening tune…”

I wish I had. I wish I’d been the vicar! I buried the moter of a colleague a few years ago, and the service was as you’d expect - and then ended with the brass band version of the Cornish Floral dance! Grins broke out everywhere, which was absolutely perfect.

The funeral should always celebrate the life, and refelct the character, of the perso who has died - otherwise it isn’t ‘their’ funeral, just another production-line ritual. If the person who has died is a clown, then laugh - because that is the way we loved them when they were alive. None of that is inconcgruous with Christian celebrations, and can make a funeral more accessible for those who are not so used to church.

Sorry I wasn’t your Vicar, Lynds.


Jack Heywood 11.09.08 at 12:07 am

I personally would use My Chemical Romance’s ‘Disenchanted’
Or ‘Into The West’ from Lord of the Rings, the one at the end of Return of the King that was sung by Annie Lennox =]


Rai 11.23.08 at 10:29 am

At my mum’s funeral a couple of years ago we played no traditional hymns even though my mother was a very devout Catholic. Our parish priest at the time actually suggested that they weren’t appropriate for my mum’s funeral given her personality or the young age of her children. He wanted us to be able to understand the funeral just as everyone else did and my dad agreed.The music played were songs my mother loved and we recognised them, even if we didn’t understand something so foreign as a funeral.

We -did- play “always look on the bright side of life” as the coffin was taken from the church and even now I have to giggle a little at the memory of a dear priest dancing and singing along with the rest of us. The song still makes me smile every time I see the movie.

My beloved Grandma actually requested (and got! Ding Dong the Witch is Dead from the Wizard of Oz) at her funeral. We laughed, as she would have wanted, and I’m glad that we took her wishes into consideration.

But for both, the services were short and the main part of the day really was the wake.


Anonymous 01.17.09 at 10:29 pm

I want ‘These Are The Days Of Our Lives’ - Queen

Sometimes I get to feelin
I was back in the old days - long ago
When we were kids when we were young
Thing seemed so perfect - you know
The days were endless we were crazy we were young
The sun was always shinin - we just lived for fun
Sometimes it seems like lately - I just dont know
The rest of my lifes been just a show

Those were the days of our lives
The bad things in life were so few
Those days are all gone now but one thing is true
When I look and I find I still love you

You cant turn back the clock you cant turn back the tide
Aint that a shame
Id like to go back one time on a roller coaster ride
When life was just a game
No use in sitting and thinkin on what you did
When you can lay back and enjoy it through your kids
Sometimes it seems like lately - I just dont know
Better sit back and go with the flow

Cos these are the days of our lives
Theyve flown in the swiftness of time
These days are all gone now but some things remain
When I look and I find no change

Those were the days of our lives - yeah
The bad things in life were so few
Those days are all gone now but one things still true
When I look and I find
I still love you


Megan 01.28.09 at 10:10 pm

Yeah, but P. Diddy and Faith Evans have done a cover of ‘Every Breath You Take’ which is a more appropriate version for a funeral, i guess.
I mean im not saying its right, but, yeah, it goes along the line, of, im missng you. So yeah, just thought i’d add that.


Megan 01.28.09 at 10:22 pm

and also, i’d like to add.
that, ‘every breath you take’ doesn’t need to be taken quite so literal. i mean, sure, it’s about obsession, but it’s also got depth and i think it has a more deeper meaning than the fact he’s an obsessive stalker.


Chris 04.16.09 at 8:33 am

I would like Hot Hot Hot - the salsa song that Mark Ramprakash danced to - well I am being cremated :)


lizzy 04.16.09 at 11:19 pm

the long and winding road by the beatles i feel sums my journey up


Lisa 04.16.09 at 11:49 pm

We were’nt allowed to play the song my brother wanted at the service so when we went for the wake we played then and everyone had a ball. It was another one bites the dust.We celebrated him being here not the fact that we had lost him. He would have loved it.


sue 04.17.09 at 5:28 am

when i die i want “am i ever gonna see your face again” should get a few laughs


Cris 04.24.09 at 3:39 am

LOL I want don’t worry be happy now, paridise city, I did it my way, always look on the bright side of life, stairway to heaven, the joker, spirit in the sky, when I was 17, these were the days of our lives and highway to hell LOL


Cris 04.24.09 at 3:45 am

And lisa that’s the sorta way u should view funerals as a celebration of who the person was not as a mourning of the loss of someone your story sounds like they way it should all be


Cris 04.24.09 at 3:46 am

Ohhh and to top it all off Tears in heaven


Roburt 06.17.09 at 12:08 am

I believe that the late Warren Zevon’s Keep Me in Your Heart is the quintessential funeral song…it says it all!


Marcus 07.14.09 at 3:44 pm

I don’t see the “Highway to Hell” here… that’s the one for my funeral.


Marek 07.14.09 at 11:13 pm

I think new song from DIDI” The day before the DAY ,, will be nice to hear on my funeral I can see my friends telling He was living without regrets till the end … Lovely song not just for funerals : )


Cathy 09.11.09 at 9:22 am

My mum died 6 weeks ago and we played ‘My heart will go on’ by Celine Dion and ‘Time to say goodbye’ by Andrea bocelli and Sarah brightman. She absolutely loved those songs and chose them for her grandmas funeral years ago so she really picked her own songs.


Carol 09.13.09 at 8:09 pm

At my brother in laws funeral his favourite song was played
Last request by Paolo Nutini

Slow down, Lie down,
Remember it’s just you and me.
Don’t sell out, bow out,
Remember how this used to be.

I just want you closer,
Is that alright?
Baby let’s get closer tonight

Grant my last request,
And just let me hold you.
Don’t shrug your shoulders,
Lay down beside me.
Sure I can accept that we’re going nowhere,
But one last time let’s go there,
Lay down beside me

Oh, I’ve found, that I’m bound
To wander down that one way road.
And I realise all about your lies
But I’m no wiser than the fool I was before.

I just want you closer,
Is that alright?
Baby let’s get closer tonight


Oh, baby, baby, baby,
Tell me how can, how can this be wrong?

[chorus x2]

Yeah, lay down beside me.

One last time let’s go there,
Lay down beside me

It was very apt.


Anonymous 09.14.09 at 12:50 pm

you raise me you by westlife is a nice song for your mam dad or the person who brought you up


Pax Vobiscum 09.26.09 at 2:29 pm

For me it has got to be the Durufle Requiem followed by ‘The eternal’ by Joy Division.

Procession moves on, the shouting is over,
Praise to the glory of loved ones now gone.
Talking aloud as they sit round their tables,
Scattering flowers washed down by the rain.
Stood by the gate at the foot of the garden,
Watching them pass like clouds in the sky,
Try to cry out in the heat of the moment,
Possessed by a fury that burns from inside.

Cry like a child, though these years make me older,
With children my time is so wastefully spent,
A burden to keep, though their inner communion,
Accept like a curse an unlucky deal.
Played by the gate at the foot of the garden,
My view stretches out from the fence to the wall,
No words could explain, no actions determine,
Just watching the trees and the leaves as they fall.


Mrs A Axcell 10.03.09 at 8:32 pm

We had Monty Pythons “Always look on the bright side of life”for our 21 year old sons funeral, because he was a fan of Monty Python, and as for its not fitting for a Christian Service, we are none believers ,nor christians.


welby m.d 10.12.09 at 11:25 pm

them bones them bones dry bones conected the word of the lord


Valery Bogan 11.01.09 at 3:42 pm

I would prefer to hear at my own funeral Va, Pensiero by Zucchero. Although I’ll do not care.


Paul Thomann 12.19.09 at 5:20 pm

RE: Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler
Although I dearly love to listen Ms. Midler on most any occasion because of the association with “That chic flick” it works like nails on a blackboard.

So RE: my eventual funeral ==>
If anyone plays that during my funeral somebody take a flamethrower and do an instant cremation just in case the dead are able to hear.

Ms. Midler in case you’re hearing I still love you and think that your first album is truly incredible
Also let me say in a non-stalking way that spending the night with you has been a dream/outlandish hope of mine ever since I first heard songs from your ‘Bathhouse Betty’ stage. Just as long as I don’t have to tell my wife.


Biggy 01.14.10 at 4:37 pm

Oasis live forever brappppppppp tel l me what you think


O 02.11.10 at 2:17 am

I would like to have : “Requiem for a Soldier” a.k.a Band of Brothers Main Theme played at mine.


Ash 03.02.10 at 1:10 pm

For my funeral, i want Dont You Forget About Me by Simple Minds


Chelsea 03.06.10 at 2:39 pm

personally I think that the songs played at your funeral should be your choice, or people’s closest to you. I respect the belief that if the funeral is held in a church then there should be some Christian theme; But at the end of the day what would help somebody grieve better a funeral that truly reflects the person, or a funeral that upholds the priests Christian morals?
when i eventually loose my dad, he wants Queen-Barcelona because he’s a massive queen fan. so i will do my utmost to get that song for him. Also, although a little controversial I would love for P diddy & Faith Evans- i will be missing you to be played because it reminds me of times i spend sitting on the sofa watching films with him, this song was in so many films, and even though it does reference drugs i feel the lyrics would be appropriate for mine and my families mourning.

At my own funeral, which i hope is a long long way off, i would like I will be missing you also. Plus Lighthouse-Everything, Oasis-Dont look back in anger and Stop crying your heart out. And a lot of songs I would love to be played but probably wont.

I don’t think that it’s distasteful at all to play Always look on the bright side of life… afterall it’s the last piece of advice the dead can give the people they’ve left behind right?


Jennifer 03.19.10 at 5:07 pm

I would like “We’ll Meet Again” by Vera Lynn played at my funeral. I believe that Jesus is my Savior, so I am going to heaven and my family and friends will see me again.


Jordan 04.19.10 at 8:53 pm

I was thinking about maybe having “Everytime” britney spears, Or “Have you ever” by brandy, do you think these are appropriate? these 2 songs mean alot to me.


Kim 04.19.10 at 10:37 pm

Just be careful, guys. It is, of course, right and proper, indeed essential, at Christian funerals to pay tribute to Joe, but his funeral should not become The Joe Show. More is at stake in choosing songs than “It was Joe’s favourite”, or “It sums up Joe to a tee”, or “His family request it”, or even “Joe himself wanted it”. Granted, most ministers will find it hard pastorally to balk at Joe’s family’s, let alone Joe’s own choice. So Joe and his family should think very carefully here. Otherwise you get customised “celebrations” that begin with “Amazing Grace” and conclude with “I Did It My Way”. That is to say, you end up with a theological and liturgical maudlin mess. Above all, remember: in fact, Christians don’t have funerals, we have services of death and resurrection - in Christ.


Paul Martin 04.19.10 at 10:48 pm

Shine Jesus, shine!


Bridge 07.19.10 at 11:32 am

I’d like my funeral to be a celebration not a saddie so how about Zippety do da zippety day with a word sheet so everyone can sing along followed by Knocking on Heavens Door (Dylan version) Louis Armstrong with that great gravelly voice singing What a wonderful world and then Hendrix’s All along the Watchtower to see us out.
Perfect !


Kim 07.19.10 at 3:41 pm

I’m sure that will all be immensely helpful to the mourners, Bridge. You can bill it as “Top of the Popped Off”.


Julie 07.19.10 at 6:45 pm

Yeah, this list of choices is understandable, but nothing on it would I ever want at my funeral. I’d either go with “Who Wants to Live Forever” by Queen or Mozart’s Requiem Mass :)


Danny 08.15.10 at 2:45 pm

I think it really does depend on the person, if they had a favorite song then why not give it one last hurrah. I had a piper at my mums funeral last year and it was beautiful but also made things very sad. My fathers send off will be the “penny arcade” by Roy orbison as both he and my mum loved the song.

I have already picked 2 songs for mine.

The End one is “now we are free” by Lisa Gerrard - it was in the film Gladiator. it is entirely sung in Hebrew but is a beautiful song.

For entrance i have picked “Solitude Sometimes Is..” - a very poingant and thoughtful song by the Manic Street Preachers.
lyrics are as follows

Solitude Sometimes Is
The place that I would like to live
Solitude Sometimes Is
When nothing really seems to fit

If black were truly black not grey
It might provide some depth to pray
To black out all the worlds of men
And demons too but not even then
Solitude Sometimes Is

Solitude Sometimes Is
Life that no longer exists
Solitude Sometimes Is
When there’s nothing left to give

If black were truly black not grey
It might provide some depth to pray
To black out all the worlds of men
And demons too but not even then
Solitude Sometimes Is

Drop your bombs on all I see
Leave this world alone for me
The thing I need to hide behind
It reigns beneath my holy skies

If black were truly black not grey
It might provide some depth to pray
To black out all the worlds of men
And demons too but not even then
Solitude Sometimes Is


Carole 09.19.10 at 2:16 pm

I want Everybody hurts by R.E.M. and If tomorrow never comes by Ronan Keating


Sophiee Noaakes 10.02.10 at 10:27 pm

Wild Horses. Susan Boyle


Craig Bickerton 10.09.10 at 7:19 pm

As a christian who is about to bury my father I read the above comments with interest. We have decided 2 completely different songs for my fathers funeral. For the coffin coming in will be Keith Urban’s “Song for dad” which I only discovered this week. It says both thank you dad for everything you have done, even if when I was younger I didn’t agree or understand. And also celebrates that he lives on in my brother and I “When someone says I’d like to meet your dad, I just smile and say You already have”. The second song which I’m sure will offend the sensibilities of some here judging by your comments is “Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble, when you’re perfect in every way” by Mac Davis. This was my dad’s favourite song and his request for his funeral. To those who would say it’s not appropriate in a christian service I would have to disagree as it is a remembrance of my father and a celebration of his sense of humour and personality. A funeral service is about remembering and celebrating the life that has passed and let us not forget 2 things, God has both a sense of humour and a great compassion for those who are in need of comfort and understands that those do not always come from “conventional” music. I’m sure the smiles will not only be on the faces of those on earth when the song is played.


Kim 10.09.10 at 10:46 pm

Hi Craig,

It sounds like you’ve got the makings of a good funeral - or as I like more accurately to call it, a good “service of death and resurrection”. Personally, I don’t have any problems with your songs, assuming you’ll be singing some hymns. I trust they will enrich the worship. I would, however, add one thing, which I hope is superfluous.

You are right that “A funeral service is about remembering and celebrating the life that has passed.” But it is about that only as the life celebrated is drawn into the story of the God from whom he comes and to whom he goes, and into the story of Jesus Christ. And there lies the biggest threat to a “good” Christian funeral, a threat that is becoming gargantuan in a post-Christian society. Thomas G. Long puts it like this (in Accompany Them with Singing - The Christian Funeral [2009], which is one of the best books I know on the subject):

“The funeral wants to proclaim the gospel. Ironically, the strongest rival to the gospel at a funeral is the life story of the deceased. Bob’s funeral can easily end up being a ‘monogrammed service,’ the ‘Bob Show.’ Properly framed, though, the story of the deceased need not be a threat to the gospel at all. The funeral invites the story of the deceased to be told and desires that the one who has died be remembered, fully and well. But the gospel reminds us that the story doesn’t end there; it ends with God. The funeral is not about some friends of Bob going to church to be with Bob’s memory, but about Bob going to be with God.”

I trust that you will have just such a servive for your dad. It’s the kind of service I tried to give my own dad who died five years ago on October 3rd, which I took, and which I have been pondering again this week.

Every blessing to you and yours,


Funeral Songs 11.19.10 at 12:48 pm

I agree about the difficulty in finding a suitable balance between the wishes of the deceased and those who attend the service. Ultimately, this has to be personal decision, but it as others have said, what ever music you choose, it pays dividends to thoroughly listen to it beforehand.


Julie 04.14.11 at 10:38 pm

How can anyone NOT realise that song is about stalking?????


chris 05.20.11 at 3:09 am

what about into the mystic van morrison thats what i would want played


Adele 07.01.11 at 7:53 pm

This is absolutely outrageous, it is up to the family members of the bereaved relative to choose which song most represents that individal person. not all people are christians and sadly not all people who die, die at the appropriate age to have a ‘church song’ for example. sometimes a ‘chart’ song is more appropriate, and represents happy memories for the family and as for the song ‘every breath you take’ being about stalking how wrong can you obnoxious people be? the song is about the loss of a loved one.. Puff daddy’s rapper friend who was shot dead, there really is not the need to disrespect how a family choose to send of there loved one, every person is different and there choices must be respected!


PamBG 07.01.11 at 9:08 pm

Actually, it’s not absolutely outrageous that if you’re going to have a Christian funeral in a Church that choices should not offend the Christian religion.

There are many options for non-religious funerals or non-Christian funerals and funeral directors are happy to point people in the right direction for resources. I was happy, as a clergyperson, to do non-religious or “spiritual but not religious” funerals but I never had anyone demand that these should be in Church.

My dad did not believe in God and we chose to have a memorial service in a restaurant and throw a big dinner afterwards, as per his wishes. Why should it be absolutely outrageous that services inside a church adhere to the tenants of that religion?


Earl 07.02.11 at 3:44 am

A funeral is a worship service. The funeral director is not in charge. The family is not in charge. The musicians and/or instrumentalists are not in charge. The minister is in charge. He/She does not not clear their funeral message with anyone. Neither do they clear the music. If someone wants to suggest music, it can be considered. But the minister makes the decisions about the elements of worship, etc. A clear policy for funerals as with weddings, etc. is helpful to allow people to decide how they want to proceed. On the part of all involved there needs to be understanding, kindness and compassion. But when decisions have to be made, the minister makes those decisions. If the family cannot accept the decisions of the minister, they have other options. If the minister cannot with integrity satisfy the expectations of the family, he/she can politely decline to participate.


PamBG 07.02.11 at 1:12 pm

A funeral doesn’t necessarily have to be a worship service and neither does a wedding, but then don’t have them in a church.

If you want to call the shots 100%, if you want no references to God, only references that you’re comfortable with or religious elements that are offensive to Christianity, then why not find a suitable venue and a suitable celebrant? (In the UK, it’s almost getting to the point that people want “non-religious” baptisms as well.)

Churches are always happy to welcome guests but the Church and her ministers are not there to provide a consumer service; they are there to worship God.


Richard 07.03.11 at 8:26 am

For once I’m agreeing with Earl. As Pam said, a funeral doesn’t have to be a Christian or religious occasion, but I was talking about funerals which are.

You’re wrong about “Every breath you take”. As it goes, I heard Sting being interviewed last night on this very thing. ‘Sinister’ was how he described this song. Here’s a little from the wikipedia entry: ‘Sting later said he was disconcerted by how many people think the song is more positive than it is. He insists it’s about the obsession with a lost lover, the jealousy and surveillance that follows. “One couple told me ‘Oh we love that song; it was the main song played at our wedding!’ I thought, ‘Well, good luck.’” When asked why he appears angry in the music video Sting told BBC Radio 2, “I think the song is very, very sinister and ugly and people have actually misinterpreted it as being a gentle, little love song.”‘


Tony Buglass 07.03.11 at 9:37 am

“…people have actually misinterpreted it as being a gentle, little love song.”‘

Is this what is now known as ‘reader response criticism’? It seems to say that the true meaning is in what it means to the reader, whatever he writer intended. I first met it decades ago in English Literature classes at school, where there were all sorts of meanings coming out of poems that I was fairly sure weren’t in the poet’s mind when he wrote it.

I have to say I’m still suspicious about it. I can’t ignore the original intent of a text, if I know what it is. Unfortunately, that does spoil things - I love singing “Thine be the glory”, but I discovered a while back that Handel wrote Judas Maccabaeus to celebrate the defeat of the Jacobite rebellion at Culloden. Well, I excuse him because he was in London and as frightened as everyone else down there, but I’ve been to Culloden, and I about ‘Butcher’ Cumberland, and my Scots ancestry finds that very difficult to swallow.


Richard 07.03.11 at 5:17 pm

‘Reader response’ exactly, Tony. In fairness, in the interview I saw last night Sting also said that he never contradicts anyone who tells him what they think the song means, saying something like “What you think it means is what it means.” I understand his diplomacy, but I don’t agree. To call this a ‘little love song’, you have to ignore the content of the lyrics. It’s the sort of thinking that makes Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” a patriotic anthem and SLF’s “White noise” a racist rant.


Anonymous 08.31.11 at 11:54 pm

Nothing Else Matters - Metallica
very soft
and i think The Day That Never Comes is good aswell


Patty 09.10.11 at 1:03 pm

I am planning the funeral of a work colleague who died with no living family - we believe she was an orphan and we know very little of her life from the time before she joined our workplace. Can anyone help with an appropriate reading and songs to paly.


Kim 09.11.11 at 9:45 am

Hi Patty,

First, my condolences to you and to friends of your colleague.

An appropriate Bible reading might be John 14:1-6, 18-19, 27. Verse 18 reads, literally, “I will not leave you orphaned” (as the New Revised Standard Version still translates), and the passage ends on a note of peace and comfort.

Best wishes for a helpful and hopeful funeral,


JON BARKER 09.11.11 at 9:16 pm

I have written & sung a song that is played at a lot of funerals.
It is called, ‘IN MY MOTHER’S EYES.’
It is on iTunes.
It may give you a small crumb of comfort in these difficult times.
Peace, JON


FeliciA 09.15.11 at 3:35 pm

I think a person should pick the music they want as their last departing wishes .. I have mine picked out already and I am only 45. … I don’t want some stupid sad song to make everyone cry, I want a song that has meaning for me and one that still has a mellow feel so that people (Christians) don’t get offended. I am not a Christian and do not chose my songs accordingly.
#1. Planet Caravan- Black Sabbath ( awesome lyrics)
#2. Nights in white Satin- Moody Blues ( my moms choosing also)
“My experience is that Christians are often no better at this than those of no faith” WHATEVER!


Kim 09.15.11 at 5:39 pm

Hey, what the hell: go the whole hog: consult a Funeral Planner and choreograph the event. And God forbid that anyone cry and disupt the mellowing. I guess the big chill shoud be a,er, big chill.


ANNE D 10.04.11 at 12:06 am

my cousin died young and had spirit in the sky sung at her cremation. the whole family danced as she went down the hole, because she didn’t want any crying at her funeral.


Bob Gilston 10.04.11 at 10:08 pm

People can dance, but those that cry wouldn’t be letting the deceased down, only doing what comes naturally.


Swee 10.14.11 at 4:33 am

Angel by Sarah McLachlan


john 10.23.11 at 10:05 pm

Monty pythons always look on the bright side of life great choice the words say it all to those pompous enough to believe that anyone who chooses such a song is somehow less worthy than someone who chooses some religious or deep meaningful verse. Bet they all started to whistle.


janine 12.29.11 at 8:41 am

I go to funerals to pay my respects to the person who died and lend what little support I can to their family. Why is it that some ministers seem to think that they should take the opportunity to convert all those present to their particular flavor of Christianity. Yes, it IS, and SHOULD BE the “Bob show”, and there is nothing wrong with that. But I digress, the songs that I have found are as follows:
I will remember you by Sarah McLauchlan;
Bridge over troubled waters by Simon and Garfunkel;
Dust in the wind by Kansas;
The dance by Garth Brooks;
O very young by Cat Stephens;
I hope you dance by Lee Ann Womack;
My immortal by Evenessance;
Spirit in the sky by Norman Greenbaum


Peter B 01.07.12 at 12:45 am

Personally i want Thomas Newman - Any Other Name. Such a beautiful song


Lisa Eds 01.16.12 at 10:23 am

I’m just planning my mothers funeral, it’s a grim business to be sure.
She didn’t want us to wallow too greatly, she’s now free of a body that didn’t work! she was only 61 so I feel robbed.
I need positive uplifting music that will do her and us justice, will reflect on who we all are and where we’ve been on life’s journey.
We’ve picked Melt - Leftfield as the entrance music (its instrumental, modern and yes, chilled, yet has some levity).
We are having a few hymns and prayers and poems etc then leaving the crematorium to Three Little Birds - Bob Marley.
I think she’d approve ;)


Anonymous 01.28.12 at 10:56 pm

While I agree that the songs have meaning that may be unrelated to grief or death you are forgetting the most important factor here which is that different songs mean different things to different people! People may pick “every breath you take” knowing that it was written about a stalker but this factor may be irrelevant to them because the song is particularly personal to the individual that died. “Appropriate” is defined by each individual e.g. I had a friend that had “jump around” by House of pain at his funeral which may seem riduculous to some but for him it was completely appropriate


Kat 02.03.12 at 7:09 pm

I am at such a loss for a handful of good songs for my mom. She is in the final stages of liver cancer, and we are trying to get things as planned out as possible, to make it easier when she departs this world. I cannot even begin to express the amount of despair & heartache my entire family is experiencing as we try to navigate this horrible turn in our lives. I am trying to find songs that represent her as the amazing wife, mother, grandmother, and overall woman that she is. Everything I find just doesn’t seem good enough (totally realizing that it is me, not the music).


Mike 03.09.12 at 12:12 am

My mother passed away Tuesday 6th of this month beleive me music is the last thing on your mind but i know something has to be decided . When dad passed away we played Will young leave right now. I have 2 sisters and the eldest wants tom jones played singing the green grass of home as we were all once from Wales im not sure


Bea 03.09.12 at 8:16 pm

I think the whole point of a funeral should be to celebrate the wonderful memories one has of the person/loved one who has died. If Monty Python’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” meant a lot to the person who passed, who is it for anyone else (you or I included) to judge?

I mean honestly, critiquing the choice of funeral song?


San 03.18.12 at 9:54 am

Here is two great songs which I have not found mentioned anywhere.
“Living Without You” by Steve Alex & Peter Nunn and “I’ll Be There” by Escape Club.


Anonymous 04.16.12 at 4:12 pm

forever autumn - moody blues
the end - the doors
stairway to heaven - led zep


Richard 04.16.12 at 5:39 pm

My inner pedant is yelling that ‘Forever Autumn’ was a solo effort by Justin Hayward, but they’re three very pleasant songs certainly.


Kim 04.16.12 at 11:04 pm

“Pleasant” might not be the word I’d use, but great R&R. On the other hand, hardly “on message”, are they? “Whatever works for you” religion.


Natasha 01.14.15 at 11:21 pm

Ever heard Bob Marley’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” played at a funeral? I have, and it was awesome.

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