The Top 10 Most Popular Songs Played at Funerals

Posted by Nathan Lloyd | 09/06/2014 | Category: Funerals

We all have to leave this earth at some point.  And when that time comes, you may have a piece of music in mind that you would like to have played at your funeral.

The piece you choose may be melancholy and reflective or perhaps you want music played that will uplift the congregation and bring a smile to their face as they remember their time spent with you.

I’m not sure what I would choose.  A potential one is a track called ‘Empty’ by Ray Lamontagne which contains the wonderfully thought provoking lyric, ‘And I never learned to count my blessings, I choose instead to dwell in my disasters’.  I think many of us spend too much time focusing on the negatives of life rather than remembering everything that’s good.

As you would probably expect, my peculiar pick doesn’t feature in the top ten most popular songs played at funerals, compiled from a Co-op Funeralcare survey in 2012.

The top ten is below, with a few interesting facts about each track.  Perhaps you have your own thoughts about what track you would like played at your funeral?  If you do and you would like to share your thoughts, please pop your details in at the foot of this artice.

10. Nat King Cole – Unforgettable

One of the greatest ever voices in music, with one of his greatest recordings from 1951 that lives up to its title.  Contains the ‘unforgettable’ lyrics, “That’s why darling it’s incredible, that someone so unforgettable, thinks that I am unforgettable too”.

9. Celine Dion – My Heart Will Go On

Fondly remembered as the theme song from the 1997 film Titanic and chosen by many because the lyrics poetically convey how a loved one will be forever remembered.

8. Vera Lynn – We'll Meet Again

The joint oldest song on the list; this ballad from 1939 will always be intrinsically linked with the Second World War and to this day, resonates passion and defiance in the face of uncertainty.  In 2009 Vera, at the age of 92, also became the oldest living artist to rank at no. 1 on the British album chart.

7. Gerry & the Pacemakers – You'll Never Walk Alone

Originally a song from the musical Carousel, this memorable track went on to become a Merseyside terrace anthem from the early Sixties.  The song finishes with the touching lyrics, ‘Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone….”

6.  Westlife – You Raise Me Up

This is a song originally released by Secret Garden in 2002 but popularized by those Irish hit makers a few years later.  The heart-tugging lyrics build to a crescendo to finish with, ‘You raise me up to more than I can be’.

5. Robbie Williams – Angels

The track that kick-started Robbie’s floundering solo career, the ubiquitous Angels is incredibly popular and is sure to race up this chart over the coming years.  The distinctive religious connotations of the lyrics have seen a growing number of people find solace with this track at funerals.

4. Eva Cassidy – Over the Rainbow

A posthumous hit from the silky voiced soprano who tragically left us at the age of just 33.  It was originally sung by Judy Garland for the 1939 feature film Wizard of Oz, but it’s the fragility and vulnerability in Eva’s version that makes it the popular pick at funerals.

3. Bette Midler – Wind Beneath My Wings

Did you ever know that you're my hero?  Poignant lyrics that are guaranteed to pull at the heart strings.  Originally released by Roger Whittaker, who is more famous for his whistling than his melancholy ballads and became a hit a few years later when sang by the iconic Bette Midler for the 1988 film Beaches.

2. Sarah Brightman/Andrea Bocelli – Time To Say Goodbye

Selling more copies in Germany than any other record, this timeless classic, originally sang in Italian, takes you on a journey of discovering new places with a lost loved one who is still in your heart.

1. Frank Sinatra – My Way

My Way has long been funeral’s top dog.  Written by Paul Anka in the late Sixties, the lyrics of "My Way" tell the story of a man who, having grown old is able to take a reflective approach on his life as death approaches. He takes responsibility for how he dealt with all the challenges of life whilst still maintaining a respectable degree of integrity.

And that is the top ten.  There are some people who may prefer to have a tradition hymn played at their funeral such as Abide with me or a classical piece such as the stirring Nimrod by Elgar.

And although it may feel a little lugubrious to choose the song played at your own funeral, it is perhaps better for you to choose than for someone to pick a One Direction track and have everybody think that they were your favourite band!

Thanks for reading and if you are planning a funeral or would just like some advice, please don’t hesitate to get in touch here.

About The Author: Rob Smyth

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