A funeral can be the most trying time in a person’s life, and there are many variations of grief. Those emotions need processing time, and music has the unique ability to help humans process their difficult emotions. Let’s examine the most popular funeral songs of all time.
“Wind Beneath My Wings” by Bette Midler
Song Year: 1988
Larry Henley and Jeff Silbar wrote the track “Wind Beneath My Wings” in 1982, and you might be familiar with another common name for the song “Hero.” Despite recordings by other artists like Kamahl and Lee Greenwood, the most successful version was Bette Midler’s 1988 recording for the film beaches. Her singing is powerful and emotional, well-fitting for a funeral.
“If Tomorrow Never Comes” by Garth Brooks
Song Year: 1989
Garth Brooks released the track “If Tomorrow Never Comes” on his 1989 self-titled album. Kent Blazy wrote the song, and this Brooks recording was so successful that it became his signature track. Reaching the top of Billboard’s Hot Country Singles chart, the music will put you into a gentle and reflective mood.
“Lay Me Down” by Sam Smith
Song Year: 2013
With contributions from Jimmy Napes and Elviin, Sam Smith wrote the track “Lay Me Down” for the 2013 album In the Lonely Hour. The lyrics and gentle piano accompaniment beautifully express the painful emotions and deep reflections one feels at a funeral. The track hit number eight on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.
“One More Day” by Diamond Rio
Song Year: 2000
“One More Day” by Diamond Rio came out on a 2000 album by the same name. The title refers to the narrator wishing to have another day with the lover they recently lost, something they want more than anything else. Despite the painful lyrics, the musical accompaniment brings a touch of positivity to the overall emotional feel.
“Lord of All Hopefulness” by Jan Struther
Song Year: 1931
Assuming such a song fits in with your traditions, this Christian hymn by Jan Struther is a sad yet beautiful way to grieve. With expressive musical accompaniment mimicking the sound of Irish and Scottish folk songs, the lyrics ask for the feeling of peace during a difficult time.
“My Father’s Eyes” by Eric Clapton
Song Year: 1998
Eric Clapton released the track “My Father’s Eyes” on the 1998 album Pilgrim, and the lyrics are personal to tragedies that Clapton suffered earlier in his life. After a reflective opening guitar solo, the music finds a faster tempo. But the lyrics are the sad expression of Clapton grieving his father and his son who died at the age of four.
“I Can’t Write That” by Jeff Bates
Song Year: 2005
“I Can’t Write That” is a slow country ballad by Jeff Bates, which he released on the 2005 album Good People. The title refers to the difficulty songwriters face as they try to write about personal deaths, no matter how healing and beautiful those tracks often turn out to be. The soft piano accompaniment and subtle lyrics will help you grieve during a difficult time.
“Hero” by Mariah Carey
Song Year: 1993
Walter Afanasieff helped Mariah Carey write the song “Hero,” and Gloria Estefan recorded the original version. But this recording, from Carey’s 1993 album Music Box, features Carey’s powerful and inspiring voice. Considering the lyrics center around finding your inner strength during difficult times, the track is fitting for funerals and other sad settings.
“Goodbye’s (the Saddest Word)” by Celine Dion
Song Year: 2002
Released on the 2002 album A New Day Has Come, Celine Dion’s “Goodbye’s (the Saddest Word)” is a touching track about the narrator’s love for her mother and the fear of losing her. Robert Lange wrote the song, and the lyrics fit perfectly with Dion’s powerful yet floating vocal technique. The track did not hit the top of the charts but found moderate success worldwide.
“Holes in the Floor of Heaven” by Steve Wariner
Song Year: 1998
Steve Wariner’s “Holes in the Floor of Heaven” is a sad song about a narrator losing his wife, and it appeared on the 1998 album Burnin' the Roadhouse Down. The title and lyrics suggest that even after you lose someone close, they still look down on you from heaven. Overall, this is a great track to help people find comfort during times of grief.
“Like a River” by Carly Simon
Song Year: 1994
Carly Simon released the track “Like a River” on her 1994 album Letters Never Sent. The content is all about the love between mothers and daughters and the painful emotions of grief and acceptance one must face at a funeral. After a slow opening segment with reflective piano accompaniment, the music finds a faster tempo that provides a sense of hope during hard times.