Do you ever feel like most of your best memories are tied to music? There’s a scientific explanation for that. Music creates strong emotions, and strong emotions enhance the processes that form memories. When we share a meaningful experience with music, we create significant connections.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Best Funeral Songs from a Son
- Best Funeral Songs from a Daughter
- Best Country Songs for Dad’s Funeral
- Best Rock Songs for Dad’s Funeral
- Best Traditional Songs for Dad’s Funeral
Funerals are an opportunity for us to gather and share memories about a loved one who has passed away. Sometimes it’s difficult for us to sum up how we feel about a person in words. This is where a song can be helpful.
We can explain why a song meant so much to the deceased. Or why the song was significant to our relationship with them. If you’re planning a memorial service or virtual funeral ceremony for your dad, here are some examples of funeral songs that might resonate with you.
COVID-19 tip: If you're hosting a Zoom funeral using a service like GatheringUs, ask your online guests to send songs that remind them of your dad in the chat window. Have a tech-savvy family member compile the playlist and stream it during the digital reception.
Dads and sons have a special bond. If you’re picking out funeral songs for dad, have a look at a few examples.
Tip: Creating a funeral playlist might be just a small part of your post-death responsibilities. If you need helping sorting it all out, check out our post-loss checklist.
1. “Dance with My Father” from Luther Vandross
Luther Vandross passed away two years after recording this deeply personal track about his late father, lending it extra poignancy.
2. “Wake Me Up When September Ends” by Green Day
Green Day burst onto the scene with brash and bratty pop-punk anthems. This ballad about the loss of frontman Billie Armstrong’s father is painful and poignant.
3. “Just the Two of Us” by Will Smith
Will Smith made a name for himself with brash and humorous rap tracks. This sensitive single showed that the Fresh Prince had matured into a true king.
4. “He Didn’t Have To Be” by Brad Paisley
Stepdads often come into a young person’s life and become a father figure. This song pays tribute to those men.
5. “You Will Always Be My Son” by Anthem Lights
The candid lyrics, simple acoustics, and gorgeous harmonies lend this Christian pop song a bittersweet resonance.
6. “Father and Son” by Cat Stevens
This melancholy folk tune about how hard it can be to break away on your own has been covered over a dozen times thanks to its universal message.
7. “Wind Beneath My Wings” by Gerald Levert and Eddie Levert
Most people are familiar with Bette Midler’s version of this song. This R&B version by the father-son soul duo centers on their relationship.
8. “A Song for Dad” from Keith Urban
The country singer celebrates how much his father did for his family and expresses his hope to emulate him.
9. “Forever Young” from Bob Dylan
The folk singer broke form with this clear and simple tune about his hopes and dreams for his son.
10. “Love Without End, Amen” from George Strait
This classic country song is about the unconditional and never-ending love between father and son.
A daughter who has a strong relationship with her father is more likely to grow up strong and confident. These songs honor that special relationship.
11. “Unforgettable” from Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole
Forty years after the crooner recorded this track, his daughter used technology to perform this duet. The rendition shows that love lingers even after death.
12. “Winter” by Tori Amos
This hauntingly beautiful piano ballad depicts a father-daughter relationship throughout the years. It captures the messages of childhood.
13. “My Girl” by The Temptations
While this soul hit is technically a love song, it’s become a treasured tune for fathers and daughters over the last 55 years.
14. “Your Joy” from Chrisette Michele
This artist’s aching voice is so well-served by the outstanding production, it takes the lilting melody and makes it soar.
15. “Right By You (For Luna)” from John Legend
Legend dedicated this jazzy tune to his daughter. He assures her with the comforting message that he will always be there no matter what.
16. “Daddy Lessons” by Beyonce and The Dixie Chicks
Old-school country and gospel combine in this unexpected collaboration. The result delivers a message that dads help their daughters grow into strong women.
17. “Cecilia and the Satellite” by Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness
McMahon, a seasoned lyricist, crafted this uplifting, uptempo pop gem for his daughter.
18. “Father and Daughter” from Paul Simon
Sometimes, good things come from strange places. This mellow, mid-tempo tune features harmonies from one of Simon’s children. He wrote it for the soundtrack to “The Wild Thornberrys Movie”.
19. “You Can Let Go Now Daddy” from Crystal Shawanda
This moving ballad concerns when parents and children need to let each other go. In life as well as death.
20. “Hero” from Mariah Carey
This ballad isn’t explicitly about father-daughter relationships. But the soaring vocals and emotional lyrics make it a perfect fit for the occasion.
More so than almost any other genre, country music is all about raw, unvarnished emotion. There is an unparalleled catharsis you can experience listening to country music.
21. “I’m Already There” by Lonestar
This powerful ballad is about a dad telling his kids that even when he’s gone, he’s with them in spirit. It's even more meaningful in the context of a funeral.
22. “The Dance” from Garth Brooks
This iconic country tune is all about how the joy of loving someone is well-worth the pain of losing them.
23. “Broken Halos” from Chris Stapleton
In this poignant track, the artist celebrates the angels on Earth who help us through difficult times. He reminds us that there’s a bigger plan to which we’re not meant to know the answers.
24. “Live Like You Were Dying” from Tim McGraw
This song urges you to do the things you’ve always wanted to but held back from doing. Mourners listening may feel implored as a way to honor those who can no longer do the same.
25. “Go Rest High on that Mountain” from Vince Gill
Vince Gill wrote this song about the untimely deaths of his friend and brother. It has since resonated with country fans and become a staple at funerals.
On the surface, rock music as a genre might not seem like the place to find the best songs about death for a funeral. But rock music can be just as expressive and emotional as any other genre.
26. “Tears in Heaven” from Eric Clapton
Clapton composed this soft rock ballad to process the grief of losing his young son. It is mournful and understated.
27. “Wish You Were Here” from Pink Floyd
While this is part of a longer concept album, this spacey experimental rock song stands on its own.
28. “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” from Guns N’ Roses
Bob Dylan wrote this song for a film in '73. This undeniable rock cover is more widely known.
29. “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” from Green Day
Despite the title, this punk rock ballad about a bittersweet parting of ways is well-suited for a funeral.
30. “Spirit in the Sky” from Norman Greenbaum
This is a rollicking, joyful tune about a man looking forward to meeting the spirit in the sky when he dies. It's one of the most requested songs at funeral homes.
Some songs become classics because a wide cross-section of people can relate. These traditional tunes resonate with so many for good reason.
31. “My Way” from Frank Sinatra
This song's popularity at funerals is well-deserved. The thought that a loved one lived their life on their own terms—unapologetically and with few regrets—is quite uplifting.
32. “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong
If you prefer your funeral songs to be hopeful, you can’t beat this jazz standard. It was written to carry a message of hope even in difficult times.
33. “Bridge Over Troubled Water” from Eva Cassidy
This is a classic gospel-tinged Simon and Garfunkel tune covered by the incomparable Cassidy. Her deft and soothing vocals give it a joyous lift.
34. “Time To Say Goodbye/Con Te Partiro” from Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman
The gorgeous, soaring vocals on this classic make it a funeral favorite in any language.
35. “Fire and Rain” from James Taylor
This folk anthem is aching and melancholy. Singer-songwriter Taylor endured a series of tragedies that inspired the song.
36. “Hallelujah” from Pentatonix
Countless artists have covered this Leonard Cohen song, including Jeff Buckley. The lush and layered arrangement by this a capella group is especially affecting.
37. “You Raise Me Up” from Josh Groban
The uplifting lyrics in this modern classic are a perfect tribute to a father who supported his children in their endeavors.
38. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World Medley” from Israel Kamakawiwo’Ole
The native Hawaiian musician laid down this mashup in just one take. The lilting melody and gentle ukulele make this medley an enduring classic.
39. “Smile” from Tony Bennett
This lovely, lyrical tune encourages mourners to smile through their heartbreak. The act of putting on a smile can give you the strength you need to move on through sad times.
40. “To Make You Feel My Love” from Adele
Most of us know the British songstress for penning her lyrics. In this rare cover, she spins a Bob Dylan classic into a haunting ballad that transcends time and genres.
Picking the Best for Your Dad
No two fathers are the same. Whoever your father was or what kind of relationship you had, there's a song to capture it. Hopefully, these funeral songs inspire you to find one.