21 John Denver Songs for a Funeral Service or Viewing

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You won’t find any John Denver songs on our list of the best funeral songs of all-time, but that doesn’t mean that some shouldn’t have made the list. People of multiple generations love John Denver’s music, and his calm, sweet voice would provide the perfect background music at a viewing or photo slideshow. You may also want to play one of John Denver’s songs at your loved one’s funeral service.

Jump ahead to these sections: 

Here are some John Denver songs to consider. While we categorized our list into “sad” or “uplifting” pieces, you may also choose to use songs that your loved one simply liked. 

Whether you're planning an in-person funeral or creating a funeral slideshow for a virtual funeral service, you'll find a John Denver song that works for you below. 

Tip: If you're planning a virtual funeral and want to play music or a slideshow for your online guests, we recommend working with a professional service like GatheringUs

Sad John Denver Songs for a Funeral

Not all of these songs are necessarily “sad.” Instead, we think that “poignant” or “heartfelt” might be a better way to categorize them. Some of them reference death, but most of them are about the bittersweet passage of time. 

Here are songs that you may want to choose for your loved one’s funeral. You may also wish to tell your loved ones that you want a John Denver song to be played at your own funeral someday. 

1. “The Wings That Fly Us Home” by John Denver

This song may provide comfort to those attending the funeral. It speaks of the spirit that comforts us when we are mourning a loss. The ending lyrics are particularly comforting: 

“Take my hand now to remember when you find yourself alone
And the spirit fills the darkness of the heavens
It fills the endless yearning of the soul
It lives within a star too far to dream of
It lives within each part and is the whole
It’s the fire and the wings that fly us home.”

2. “On the Wings of a Dream”

“On the Wings of a Dream” is a philosophical view of life. It begins, “Yesterday I had a dream about dying.” One particular poignant line talks about those who have gone before:

“So I listen to the voices inside me
For I know they are there just to guide me
And my faith will proclaim it is so
We are never alone.”

You may find comfort listening to this song after the funeral as well.

3. “All This Joy” 

This song has somewhat repetitive lyrics, and it would be a poignant song to play at a loved one’s funeral. The first stanza reads:

“All this joy, all this sorrow
All this promise, all this pain
Such is life, such is being
Such is spirit, such is love.”

4. “Around”

The passage of time is the theme of “Around.” Its contemplative lyrics would make it appropriate for a funeral. 

5. “Follow Me”

This song is a love song, and it would work well as a song for a funeral as well. The lyrics are very simple and sweet. 

6. “For You” 

While you may associate John Denver’s music with songs about mountains and living in the country, many of his songs are sweet, simple love songs. This is a song about eternal love.

Uplifting John Denver Songs for a Funeral

John Denver’s music often had a positive, upbeat tone. He played songs about enjoying time in nature, eternal love, and the happiness associated with going home.

7. “Sunshine on My Shoulders” 

This bittersweet song will make you long for one more ordinary day with your loved one. The most poignant stanza reads: 

“If I had a day that I could give you
I’d give to you the day just like today
If I had a song that I could sing for you
I’d sing a song to make you feel this way.”

8. “Annie’s Song”

While many people use “Annie’s Song” at weddings, it could also be used at a loved one’s funeral. It is an extremely sweet and romantic song that speaks about everlasting love. 

9. “Take Me Home, Country Roads”

We didn’t think of “Take Me Home” as an appropriate funeral song until we relistened to the lyrics, but perhaps there isn’t a better end-of-life song anywhere. For those who believe in eternal life, the idea of going “home” is the same as “heaven.” Even the first line states, “Almost heaven . . . West Virginia.”

10. “All of My Memories”

This song’s actual lyrics are about a performer who is tired of life on the road and longs for a life in a more idyllic setting. Instead of reading the words literally, you may instead think of how the speaker in this song wishes for his heavenly home.

11. “Back Home Again”

This song is similar in theme to “All of My Memories.” It’s about someone who frequently travels and feels comforted when he gets home. This simple song would have a deeper meaning at a loved one’s funeral.

12. “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free”

Even though this song was written as an anthem for the Civil Rights movement, it might also be appropriate for your loved one’s funeral. There are many other recorded versions of this song to consider besides Denver’s. 

13. “It’s In Every One of Us” 

This song of inspiration is meant to encourage people to live a deliberate life helping others. It might be a good song to use in a funeral slideshow, especially if your loved one had a giving spirit.

14. “Poems, Prayers, and Promises” 

The lyrics of this song is someone reflecting on their life experiences. You may connect with some of the phrases, such as:

“And I have to say it now.
It’s been a good life all in all.
It’s really fine.”

15. Rocky Mountain High”

While this is a love song to the Rocky Mountains, it could also be a nostalgic song to include in a photo slideshow. You might also use “Thank God, I’m a Country Boy” for the same reason, especially if your loved one was from rural America.

16. “The Higher We Fly”

John Denver’s father was a pilot, but this song is about much more than flying in an airplane. It includes the line:

“The higher we fly, the farther we go.
The closer we are to each other.”

17. “This Old Guitar”

Did your loved one share a love of the guitar with John Denver? This may be something to play at their funeral.

18. “When the River Meets the Sea”

Although John Denver doesn’t have many songs that you might call religious, this one is very spiritual. It begins:

“When the mountain touches the valley
All the clouds are taught to fly
As our souls will leave this land most peacefully
Though our minds be filled with questions
In our hearts, we’ll understand
When the river meets the sea.”

If you are playing a recording of this song at the funeral, you may take care not to use the one he sang with the Muppets.

19. “Windsong”

This song is a tribute to the wind, but it has a contemplative sound that would make it appropriate for a funeral.

20. “Welcome to My Morning”

Did your loved one have a sunny disposition? This is a happy song. Here’s the stanza, as an example:

“To tell you that I love you
And all the songs I play
Are to thank you for allowing me
Inside this lovely day.”

Even though the tone of this song may not sound like one you would hear at a funeral, if it describes your loved one’s outlook on life—use it!

21. “Season Suite”

This is another “life is beautiful” song by John Denver. Perhaps more songs like this need to be played at funerals. 

Let Others Know Your Wishes

Maybe you pulled up this list to find a song for your mom’s or dad’s funeral, or perhaps you are in charge of finding music for a funeral for a friend.

If you are contemplating your own end-of-life choices, make sure you share your wishes with your close family members. Let them know if you wish to be buried or cremated. Tell them where you would like your remains to rest for eternity. Pick out your casket and the type of flowers for your funeral. Tell them who you think would be the best choices as pallbearers.

If music is important to you, give them a playlist of songs you would like at your visitation and funeral. If the list is long, you may suggest that the extra pieces be used as background music during an after-funeral luncheon.

Share your end-of-life plans so that your funeral will be just as you would wish it to be.

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