37 Country Songs About Death

Music about death might not be as fun to listen to as songs about love, dancing, or other cheerful topics. But music has unique healing abilities that help people through difficult times. So let’s explore some of the best country songs about death that might aid your grieving.

Contents

“Over You” by Miranda Lambert

Song Year: 2012

Miranda Lambert released the track “Over You” on her 2012 album Four the Record. Co-written with Blake Shelton, the lyrics tell a story from Shelton’s youth about his younger brother dying in a car accident.

Shelton asked Lambert to collaborate because he did not think he could often handle the emotions of singing this track. The Academy of Country Music Awards (ACM) made this track Song of the Year in 2013.

“Drink a Beer” by Luke Bryan

Song Year: 2013

Chris Stapleton and Jim Beavers wrote the song “Drink a Beer,” and Luke Bryan recorded and released it on his 2013 album Crash My Party.

This country ballad captures the complicated emotions of unexpectedly losing someone close to you, something Bryan relates to from losing two brothers. The track hit number one on Billboard's Country Airplay chart in 2014.

“Cryin’ For Me (Wayman’s Song)” by Toby Keith

Song Year: 2009

Released on the 2009 album American Ride, Toby Keith’s “Cryin’ For Me (Wayman’s Song)” is a slow ballad that captures the sadness of death in the musical texture and the lyrics.

The track is an acoustic setting with interluding saxophone lines, and the lyrics are about the moment you learn of a death. The song reached the number 6 spot on Billboard’s chart Hot Country Songs.

“If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away” by Justin Moore

Song Year: 2011

Dallas Davidson, Rob Hatch, and Brett Jones wrote the song “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away,” and Rhett Akins made the original recording. But this cover by Justin Moore, released as a single for his 2011 album Outlaws Like Me, captures a unique sadness of missing dead loved ones.

The lyrics center around wishing that you could visit those who passed in heaven.

“One More Day” by Diamond Rio

Song Year: 2000

Released in 2000 as the single title track from an album of the same name, Diamond Rio’s “One More Day” is a touching song dealing with the specific grief of losing your lover.

As the title suggests, the lyrics center around the narrator not wanting shallow/materialistic things. He instead wants extra time with those who died.

“I Drive Your Truck” by Lee Brice

Song Year: 2012

Connie Harrington, Jessi Alexander, and Jimmy Yeary wrote the track “I Drive Your Truck”, and country artist Lee Brice recorded it for his 2012 album Hard 2 Love.

Musically, the relaxed verses build to a passionate chorus about the narrator driving his brother’s truck to grieve his loss. The brother died in combat with the United States Army.

“Go Rest High on That Mountain” by Vince Gill

Song Year: 1995

Vince Gill released the track “Go Rest High on That Mountain” on his 1995 album When Love Finds You. You can consider this song a sentimental ballad that might make you cry.

The passionate singing and lyrics about losing a loved one capture sorrowful and reflective energy.

“If You’re Reading This” by Tim McGraw

Song Year: 2007

Tim McGraw’s “If You’re Reading This,” released on his 2007 album Let It Go, is a touching song meant to be a tribute to families who lost loved ones from military service.

The track performed well on many charts, hitting number 35 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs and number 41 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

“You Should Be Here” by Cole Swindell

Song Year: 2015

Cole Swindell’s “You Should Be Here” was first released as a radio single in 2015 and later on his 2016 album of the same name.

Ashley Gorley co-wrote the song with Swindell, and the lyrics are about Swindell’s father unexpectedly dying while Swindell was on tour performing. The track topped Billboard’s Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay charts.

“The Dance” by Garth Brooks

Song Year: 1990

Garth Brooks released “The Dance” on his 1990 album Garth Brooks. Written by the well-known country music songwriter Anthony Arata, you can consider this track to be Brooks’ signature song.

The music captures a sad mood, and the lyrics are about loss, both in terms of death and of a romantic relationship ending.

“Sissy’s Song” by Alan Jackson

Song Year: 2009

Released in 2009 as a single from the album Good Time, Alan Jackson’s “Sissy’s Song” is about the death of his housekeeper.

This slow acoustic ballad captures the mysterious emotions surrounding death and loss, and the lyrics center around saying goodbye and wishing someone well in the next life.

“Who You’d Be Today” by Kenny Chesney

Song Year: 2005

Aimee Mayo and Bill Luther wrote the track “Who You’d Be Today”, and Kenny Chesney released it on his 2005 album The Road and the Radio.

The song captures the difficult circumstance of a young person dying, and the lyrics question what life would be like without this death. It peaked at number 2 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart.

“Holes in the Floor of Heaven” by Steve Wariner

Song Year: 1998

Steve Wariner released the track “Holes in the Floor of Heaven” on his 1998 album Burnin' the Roadhouse Down. The song is an emotional recollection of the narrator losing multiple loved ones, specifically his grandmother and wife.

The title and lyrics suggest that loved ones who pass away can still watch over you from above. The track reached the number 2 spot on charts in the US and Canada.

“If You Get There Before I Do” by Collin Raye

Song Year: 1993

Released on the 1993 album Extremes, Collin Raye’s “If you Get There Before I Do” is a touching reflection on love and death.

In this mid-tempo ballad, the narrator reflects on finding a love note written by his Grandpa, a note which he finds moments before his Grandpa passes. The lyrics are general enough, though, that this track can apply to any kind of emotional loss.

“Whiskey Lullaby” by Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss

Song Year: 2004

Bill Anderson and Jon Randall wrote the song “Whiskey Lullaby,” and Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss recorded the duet on the 2004 album Mud on the Tires.

This track is depressing on multiple levels, considering the lyrics are about a painful breakup and two lovers who drink themselves to death. But the touching harmonies will put you into an emotional and reflective mood.

“What Hurts the Most” by Rascal Flatts

Song Year: 2006

Jeffrey Steele and Steve Robson originally wrote the track “What Hurts the Most” for country singer Mark Willis in 2003. But this recording by the band Rascal Flatts, released on the 2006 album Me and My Gang, topped two charts in the US, including the adult contemporary chart.

The song is not slow, but the emotional singing and lyrics about lost love capture the sadness of death.

“He Stopped Loving Her Today” by George Jones

Song Year: 1980

Next is George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today”, a song that goes back a few decades from many of these country songs about death. Released in 1980 on the album I Am What I Am; this slow ballad performed well on the charts.

There was also a spike in its performance after Jones died in 2013. In 2021, Rolling Stone ranked it number 142 on their 500 Greatest Songs of All Time collection.

“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” by Glen Campbell

Song Year: 2014

Glen Campbell’s “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” is his last recorded song, and it is an emotional expression of his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Released in 2014 as part of the soundtrack to Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me, the track won the Grammy in 2015 for Best Country Song.

The title and lyrics stem from a comment Campbell made that the disease will prevent him from missing people.

“Why” by Rascal Flatts

Song Year: 2009

The country music band Rascal Flatts released the track “Why” on their 2009 album Unstoppable. Written by Rob Mathes and Allen Shamblin, the slow tempo, gentle piano, and painful lyrics about suicide make for an intensely emotional experience.

In the US, the song made it to the number 44 spot on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.

“The Funeral” by Hank Williams

“The Funeral” by Hank Williams

Song Year: 1950

Next is Hank Williams’ “The Funeral,” the earliest country song about death in this collection. Released in 1950 as a spoken poem with gentle music in the background, the lyrics are credited to the poet Will Carleton.

The lyrics center around the death of a child and the reflective thoughts one has while at the funeral. Williams occasionally borders on singing but mostly speaks the lyrics accompanied by guitar and church organ.

“I Can’t Write That” by Jeff Bates

Song Year: 2005

Jeff Bates released the track “I Can’t Write That” on the 2005 album Good People. The slow ballad uses gentle piano and light percussion as its accompaniment, with extra voices singing harmony during the choruses.

The lyrics are about the narrator reflecting on the loss of a loved one and the seeming impossibility of reliving those emotions to write and perform a song about that loss.

“Angels in Waiting” by Tammy Cochran

Song Year: 2001

Tammy Cochran released the track “Angels in Waiting” on her 2001 self-titled album. This touching ballad is a personal song for Cochran that she wrote as a tribute to her two brothers who died from cystic fibrosis.

It reached the number 9 spot on the Hot Country Songs chart and the number 73 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100.

“If Something Should Happen” by Darryl Worley

Song Year: 2005

Dave Turnbull, Dan Demay, and Jim Brown wrote the track “If Something Should Happen,” and country singer Darryl Worley recorded it in 2005 for his self-titled album.

The song is upbeat and energetic—compared to others in this collection—but the lyrics center around the anxiety that a father has about dying and leaving young children behind. The track reached the number 9 spot on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs.

“Angels Among Us” by Alabama

Song Year: 1993

Don Goodman and Becky Hobbs wrote the track “Angels Among Us,” and the band Alabama recorded and released it on their 1993 album Cheap Seats. If you are unfamiliar with this Alabama recording, you might also recognize this song’s many covers, including by Becky Hobbs.

The song made the Hot Country Songs chart, and it includes the extra-emotional sound of a children's choir during the choruses.

“If I Had Only Known” by Reba McEntire

Song Year: 1991

Reba McEntire released the song “If I Had Only Known” on her 1991 album For My Broken Heart. Musically, there is sparse electric piano to accompany McEntire’s passionate singing, with the occasional guitar riff bridging the verses together.

The sad music is complemented by lyrics that center on the regret of not cherishing someone while they were still alive.

“Go On Without Me” by Brett Eldredge

Song Year: 2013

Brett Eldredge released the song “Go On Without Me” on his 2013 album Bring You Back. Despite the lyrics’ emotional content—about the loss of a close friend—the music has a sense of positivity and light.

You can consider this a sad and yet touching song that will help you process grief in a positive way, relying on the positive memories of the person who died.

“Lead Me Home” by Jamey Johnson

Song Year: 2006

Unlike many of the songs about death in this collection, Jame Johnson’s “Lead Me Home” is a track about the narrator dying. Released on his 2006 album The Dollar, this slow ballad is minimally accompanied by piano, with a few interludes by organ, guitar, and percussion.

The lyrics, expressed with Johnson’s passionate singing, center around the narrator’s thoughts as he takes his last breath and prepares to die.

“I’m No Stranger to the Rain” by Keith Whitley

Song Year: 1989

Sonny Curtis and Ron Hellard wrote the track “I’m No Stranger to the Rain,” and Keith Whitley released it as the last single from his 1989 album Don’t Close Your Eyes.

The mid-tempo and bright tone of Whitley’s singing gives this song a positive musicality. But the lyrics center around dealing with tragedy. The track topped the relevant country charts in the US and Canada.

“He Didn’t Have to Be” by Brad Paisley

Song Year: 1999

Brad Paisley released the track “He Didn’t Have to Be” on his 1999 album Who Needs Pictures. The mid-tempo ballad features reflective singing and steel guitar for the musical accompaniment.

The lyrics tell a story of a single mom who reenters the dating scene after a death.The track held the number one spot in the US for a week on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, debuting at number 72.

“When a Hero Falls” by Stephen Cochran

Song Year: 2007

Stephen Cochran's “When a Hero Falls”, released on his self-titled album in 2007, is another song that captures the unique sadness of losing someone who was serving in the military.

The music captures the deep emotion of a soldier losing their friend at war, but it does so with a bright tempo that might help you view a heroic death in a more positive light. 

“Last Day of My Life” by Phil Vassar

Song Year: 2006

Tim Ryan and Phil Vassar co-wrote the track “Last Day of My Life,” and Vassar released it in 2006 on his album Greatest Hits, Vol. 1. The single reached the number 2 spot on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs.

The music is not obviously sad, but the lyrics capture the reflections of a man at a funeral, specifically realizing that he does not spend enough time with his family and friends.

“There You’ll Be” by Faith Hill

Song Year: 2001

If you do not recognize the track “There You’ll Be” from Faith Hill’s album of the same name, you likely recognize it from the soundtrack of the 2001 war movie Pearl Harbor.

This power country ballad features Hill’s impressively powerful voice, along with orchestrations by David Campbell. The lyrics express the pain of losing someone close but express the optimism that those lost always stay by your side.

“See You Again” by Carrie Underwood

Song Year: 2013

Carrie Underwood, Hillary Lindsey, and David Hodges collaborated on writing the track “See You Again,” and Underwood released it on her 2013 album Blown Away. The song made it to the top 10 of Billboard’s Hot Country Songs, and the Recording Industry Association of America certified it Gold and Platinum.

The hopeful music and lyrics about moving on make this track the perfect song for powering through grief and learning to move forward.

“Sweet Old World” by Lucinda Williams

Song Year: 1992

Lucinda Williams released the song “Sweet Old World” on her 1992 album of the same name. This alternative country track has a unique sound when compared with the standard country songs in the rest of this collection.

The mid-tempo energy and gentle guitar accompaniment, including some fiddle solos, produce a relaxed atmosphere. The lyrics reflect on a person’s death and what they leave behind.

“A Picture of Me” by George Jones

Song Year: 1972

Norro Wilson and George Richey wrote the track “A Picture of Me,” and George Jones released it on his 1972 album A Picture of Me (Without You). Jones’ recording reached the number 5 spot on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles chart, and other covers of the songs would later reach the charts as well. The lyrics center around imagining the world without certain crucial things that we need to live.

“Believe” by Brooks & Dunn

Song Year: 2005

Ronnie Dunn and Craig Wiseman wrote the song “Believe,” and the duo Brooks & Dunn released it as a single from their 2005 album Hillbilly Deluxe. This sad song features a speech-like telling of a story where an old man loses his wife and son, later dying himself.

The Country Music Association awarded this track Single of the Year in 2005, and Rolling Stone ranked it number 33 in its 40 Saddest Country Songs of All Time collection.

“How Can I Help You Say Goodbye” by Patty Loveless

Song Year: 1994

Karen Taylor-Good and Burton Banks Collins wrote the track “How Can I Help You Say Goodbye,” and country music singer Patty Loveless first recorded it for her 1994 album Only What I Feel.

The slow-tempo ballad has a gentle piano accompaniment, and the lyrics compare the feeling of loss from death to other losses such as divorce. American singer Laura Branigan also released a well-known version of this track.

Best Country Songs About Death, Final Thoughts

As you can see, a lot of country music deals with death. Whether you want a more upbeat song that captures your nostalgia or a slow song to help you cry and process your grief, country music has that variety of expression.

And if you want to venture outside of the country music world, check out this more general collection of songs about death that will help you grieve.

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