20 Best James Taylor Songs for a Funeral


James Taylor’s musical career got started in the late ‘60s and took off. Known for his soul-stirring, moving lyrics, his songs came to define much of the rock and roll movement of the ‘70s, and his music continues to shape the American musicscape today.

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Much of Taylor’s discography covers the emotions experienced during the highs and lows of life. Because of this, they are perfect for capturing the feeling associated with sorrow and loss as well as the joy of having lived. Whether your loved one is a James Taylor fan or not, you might find that one of these songs can be played in tribute to their life.

Sad or Sorrowful James Taylor Songs for a Funeral

Many of James Taylor’s songs are slow, moving, heartfelt, and sentimental. This combination makes many of them some of the best funeral songs to play in tribute to a loved one. Though many songs talk about life, he does have a fair share of songs about death. Here are some of his best thought-provoking songs to play for a funeral.

1. “You Can Close Your Eyes” from Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon

This melodic song almost comes across like a lullaby being sung to someone who is ready to pass away from life on earth. In it, the singer comforts their loved one by telling them that they can close their eyes and he will sing a song for them. 

2. “Carry Me on My Way” from October Road

The lyrics of this song attest to how quickly time can fly. When we’re young, it feels like we have all the time in the world. When we get older, it feels like our lives have passed us by. It also serves as a warning to use the time we have the best we can.

3. “You’ve Got a Friend” from Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon

If you need a song to play in tribute to someone who was an amazing friend, this is probably the best you’ll find. In the song, Taylor sings about a friend who is always there, never gives up on others, and promises to be around through the ups and downs of life.

4. “Baby Boom Baby” from Never Die Young

This soft tribute to a spouse or partner asks the question, “How come I miss what I never knew?” The question is one you might ask when you find yourself missing future events with your loved one and processing through the fact that they won’t be there to experience them with you.

5. “Believe It or Not” from Dad Loves His Work

The lyrics of this song speak of wishing for more time with the one you love. The opening lines evoke emotion when Taylor sings, “And though the hour grew later and later, I would hold on for one more heartbeat.” There is also a challenge in the song to make the most of every moment you have with those you love.

6. “There We Are” from JT

Listen to the review of someone’s life story when you listen to this song. Whether you play it on its own or place it as a backing track for a slideshow, the lyrics are sure to resonate with everyone gathered to celebrate the life of your loved one.

7. “That Lonesome Road” from Dad Loves His Work

Sometimes, life can be a long and lonely journey. If your loved one was a pioneer, had to plow their way ahead, and fought through opposition, this song would be more than fitting to play at their funeral.

8. “Something in the Way She Moves” from James Taylor

This is another track that stands as a testament to the love shared between two people. In this song, Taylor talks about the way his troubles melt away with just one look from the love of his life. If this is how you feel about your spouse, consider playing this in their honor.

9. “Riding on a Railroad” from Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon

This song is a tribute to walking the road of life and deciding to break out and do something different than what is expected. If your loved one broke the mold or didn’t fit stereotypes others tried to put on them, this could be a fitting song to play.

10. “Fire and Rain” from Sweet Baby James

Everyone experiences the highs and lows of life or “fire and rain” as James Taylor puts it. This is an excellent tribute song for someone who has been through much in their life but has become stronger because of their experiences.

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Uplifting or Joyful James Taylor Songs for a Funeral

Taylor certainly has a fair share of uplifting songs that are perfect when planning a memorial service or putting together a funeral slideshow. These songs are a tribute to the life we all share and beautiful moments that turn into memories we can keep with us forever.

11. “Blossom” from Sweet Baby James

This is a short song that reminisces about the sweet moments of life, such as sitting by the love of your life while driving down a dirt road or soaking in the sunshine during a difficult day.

12. “Circle Around the Sun” from James Taylor

This simple yet sweet song talks about the love shared between husband and wife. Through the sun-filled days or the dark nights, love wraps around him like a “circle around the sun” and love’s breeze blows all his blues away. This is a perfect tribute song to play for a spouse.

13. “Ain’t No Song” from Walking Man

Play this song for someone who means the world to you. Taylor’s lyrics will resonate with lines such as, “There ain't no song in the whole wide world could hardly sing without you. There ain't no song in the whole wide world to tell you the way that I feel.” Your loved one may be gone, but your love for them doesn’t have to fade away.

14. “Golden Moments” from In the Pocket

This song reminisces about all the good moments lived. While the sorrowful times are mentioned, Taylor insists that the good would far outweigh the bad if the good moments were the only things remembered. The song opens with this optimistic outlook on reviewing one’s life:

“Now if all my golden moments could be rolled into one
They would shine just like the sun for a summer day.”

15. “Copperline” from New Moon Shine

If your loved one had a special place they enjoyed returning year after year, this song might hold special significance. In it, Taylor talks about the beauty, romance, and memories held in a childhood home called “Copperline.” 

16. “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” from Gorilla

Play this song in tribute to a spouse or partner who made your world a better place because they loved you so well. They may no longer be physically present, but you can pay them tribute with this song.

17. “September Grass” from October Road

If you’re looking for an uplifting song that talks about the sweet memories of life, this might be it. The lyrics speak for themselves as they talk about young love, the turning of the seasons, and taking time to slow down and enjoy the life we’ve been given.

18. “On the Fourth of July” from October Road

This is a testament to the power one day can have in the course of someone’s life. One day has the power to change our lives as we graduate, fall in love, get married, have children, reach a major milestone, achieve something great, or finally cross off an item from our bucket list.

19. “Don’t Be Sad ‘Cause Your Sun is Down” from In the Pocket

If Taylor ever created a mantra for life, this is it. The song is vibrant and victorious with lyrics that encourage the listener to seize every moment of the day. If your loved one lived with this type of attitude, play this at their funeral. 

20. “Carolina In My Mind” from James Taylor

Was your loved one a fan of country roads, small towns, moonshine, and slowing down to take life in? If so, this song might be just the song to play in tribute to their way of life. “Carolina In My Mind” might be one of Taylor’s greatest songs, and it certainly resonates with many who love the country way of life.

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A Tribute in Song

Songs are the perfect way to pay tribute to someone’s life. Whether you play a song because it was their favorite or choose a track to back a slideshow, the songs you choose for a funeral or memorial service will hold deep meaning for you and those who attend. These songs can even serve as a long-term reminder of your loved one long after the service is over. We hope this list has helped you narrow down your choices from the many songs in Taylor’s discography.

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