Some performers are more than just good singers: they become iconic parts of pop culture. Artists like The Beatles and Elvis Presley didn’t just have good voices. They exemplified their particular genres.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Sad or Sorrowful Frank Sinatra Songs for a Funeral
- Uplifting or Happy Frank Sinatra Songs for a Funeral
Another iconic singer along these lines is Frank Sinatra. Sinatra was an actor, singer, and producer who first began to find fame in the 1940s and who would go on to become one of the best-selling musical artists of all time. He was largely known for performing swing music and jazz standards, including many staples from the Great American Songbook.
Virtual funeral tip: If you're hosting a Zoom funeral using a service like GatheringUs, test your audio before the ceremony, so you can anticipate any day-of-funeral issues.
Sinatra is frequently grouped in with the crooner style singers who had their heyday in the 1940s and 1950s. His timeless tunes are also often played at funerals. Here, we explore some of the Sinatra standards you might hear at a funeral.
Note: many of Sinatra’s songs were written by other people, so we’ve also included the songwriters.
Sad or Sorrowful Frank Sinatra Songs for a Funeral
Many Sinatra songs deal with deeply-felt emotion and heartbreak. That’s why there’s no shortage of them on lists that talk about the best funeral songs. The mournful and introspective lyrics in these songs make them a perfect fit for a funeral.
1. “All Alone” by Irving Berlin
This Irving Berlin song is actually written about a person with a broken heart. The protagonist sits by the phone waiting for a loved one to call and wondering where in the world they could be. But Sinatra’s rich voice is infused with melancholy and heartbreak. That pathos makes this sorrowful song right at home as a funeral track.
2. “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” by Roy Turk and Lou Handman
This song initially came out in 1927, but it wasn’t until 1960 that it really hit the big time. That’s the year that it was recorded by Elvis Presley. The success of that version inspired many other established artists to make their own cover versions. Frank Sinatra’s version came out in 1962. While it was never as well-known as Presley’s version, many people prefer Sinatra’s sober and mature take.
3. “Here’s That Rainy Day” by Johnny Burke
This melancholy tune tells the story of someone who squandered many chances only to find themselves alone in the rain. While it’s ostensibly a love song, this emotional track also captures the loneliness people feel after a loved one dies.
4. “All By Myself” by Eric Carmen
Most people know the tender original version of this ballad released by Eric Carmen. Celine Dion also released a bombastic interpretation of it in 1996. But Sinatra’s version elevated this far beyond its catchy pop origins. But few people know that Sinatra released a cover of it back in 1976 when Carmen’s original version was still a hit.
Sinatra infused his version with a world-weary rasp and break in his usually clear vocals. The singer was usually known for his confidence, but when he crooned about feeling “so insecure,” it was believable and heartbreaking.
5. “I’ll Never Smile Again” by Ruth Lowe
The end of a relationship can feel a lot like a death. This love song is one of them. It bemoans the final end of a relationship as the protagonist swears that they’ll never fall in love again. You can feel that way after someone you love dies - like life isn’t worth living without the love of that person in your life. Sinatra’s moody, low-key delivery makes this an achingly beautiful funeral selection.
6. “I’m Walking Behind You” by Billy Reid
In this song, a person promises to be there in a loved one’s life on important days. They assure their loved one, “I’m walking behind you on your wedding day/ And I’ll hear you promise to love and obey.” This can also serve as a message of comfort to people who are mourning.
7. “How Do You Keep the Music Playing?” by Alan Bergman, Mariln Bergman, and Michel Jean Legrand
This is yet another love song that can be experienced with new poignancy when it’s played at a funeral. The lyrics talk about people trying to cling desperately to a fading relationship, and they gain new significance when viewed through the prism of death. Words like this:
I know the way I feel for you is now or never/ The more I love, the more that I'm afraid/ That in your eyes I may not see forever, forever
have a different emotional heft in a funereal context.
Uplifting or Happy Frank Sinatra Songs for a Funeral
Traditional funerals tend to have a formal and somber tone. But many people are opting to have lighter end-of-life ceremonies, like a celebration of life service. These cheerful tracks are some of the most uplifting funeral songs you can find.
8. “My Way” by Paul Anka, Claude Francois, Jacques Revaux, and Gilles Thibaut
Sinatra recorded many songs, but perhaps no title is more closely associated with his legacy than “My Way.” The opening lines go: “And now the end is near/ And so I face the final curtain”, which can be read as an allusion to the finality of death. But it’s the defiant spirit of this song that makes it such a funeral standard.
Tongue-in-cheek lines like Regrets, I’ve had a few/ But then again, too few to mention ultimately make this a lighthearted choice for a funeral song. This is always a popular choice when people look for funeral songs for dad.
9. “I’m Gonna Live Till I Die” by Mann Curtis, Al Hoffman, and Walter Kent
Sometimes at the end of our lives, we look back with regret at all the things we never got to accomplish. Not the protagonist in this Sinatra song. He sings unabashedly about all the things he plans to do before his life ends.
The joyful opening lines: “I’m gonna live till I die/I’m gonna laugh stead of cry/I’m gonna take the town turn it upside down/I’m gonna live, live, live until I die” are a great tribute to someone who lived life on their own terms.
10. “Cheek to Cheek” by Irving Berlin
This song was originally written by Irving Berlin in 1935 for the film Top Hat. Fred Astaire famously sang it to Ginger Rogers on screen as they danced. But Frank Sinatra released an iconic cover of the track on his 1959 album Come Dance with Me!
It may be Sinatra’s best-loved song overall. The ecstatic opening lyrics:
“Heaven, I'm in heaven/ And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak/ And I seem to find the happiness I seek/ When we're out together dancing, cheek to cheek” make this a perfect choice for an uplifting funeral playlist.
11. “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive” by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer
Like “Cheek to Cheek”, this jazzy big band number was originally used in a movie. It was used in the 1944 movie Here Come the Waves. The lyrics, which were inspired by a sermon, encourage people to look on the bright side of life. This message is appropriate for an end-of-life service with a more uplifting feel.
12. “The Best is Yet to Come” by Carolyn Leigh and Cy Coleman
This optimistic little ditty captures how exciting life feels when you’re in love. Even the most prosaic things in life will seem exciting when you see them through fresh eyes. While this is a love song, its uplifting message would be perfect at a funeral for someone who believed in heaven or the afterlife. In fact, the words “The Best is Yet to Come” were even etched on Sinatra’s tombstone.
13. “I Could Have Danced All Night” by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe
This song is best known from the musical production My Fair Lady. In that version, Audrey Hepburn giddily recounts every spectacular moment of a single perfect night. The message of the song is that she enjoyed every moment so much, she doesn’t want it to end. The message of this song also makes a wry and wise metaphor for the end of a life. Play this at the funeral of someone who always lived every moment of life to the fullest.
14. “Last Night When We Were Young” by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg
Arlen was a prolific songwriter who penned over 500 songs including classics like “Over the Rainbow.” This uplifting song talks about how love can make everything feel fresh and new. It’s a great song to listen to when you need to gain some perspective.
Frank Sinatra Songs Lend Elegance to a Funeral Song Soundtrack
Whether you’re planning an in-person funeral service or looking into virtual funeral planning, music is an important thing to consider. It’s crucial to pick songs that suit the mood you’re trying to set. It’s also important to try and pick songs that will honor the deceased in some way.
Frank Sinatra’s emotional interpretations of classic songs are always right at home on a funeral playlist. Slow and sentimental ballads can be cathartic during a traditional service. And an uplifting inspirational track might lift people’s spirits during a celebration of life ceremony. No matter what mood you’re trying to convey, there’s a Frank Sinatra song to help set the tone.