Choosing music for life's significant events is difficult for many. After all, you need to find a song with appropriate words that sets the right tone for the event. This can be especially hard when picking songs for a funeral. While you may want to use pieces that your loved one enjoyed, you may hesitate before choosing a song that seems too upbeat for the occasion.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Sad or Sorrowful Roy Orbison Songs for a Funeral
- Uplifting Roy Orbison Songs for a Funeral
- Roy Orbison Songs for a Parent's Funeral
What follows is a list of Roy Orbison songs that you might consider for your loved one's funeral, visitation, or as background music for a photo presentation playing at the funeral.
Sad or Sorrowful Roy Orbison Songs for a Funeral
Most of Roy Orbison's sad songs have to do with the heartbreak that occurs from a broken relationship. Some of the songs have a stanza that may sound like a death occurred. However, read all the lyrics before selecting the piece for such an important event.
1. "Only the Lonely" from Black and White Night
This song isn't necessarily about the death of a loved one. Instead, it's implied that the speaker's loneliness in this song is caused by a breakup with his girlfriend.
However, some of the lyrics poignantly speak about the heartbreak that comes from separation of any type, such as these lines:
"There goes my baby
There goes my heart
They're gone forever
So far apart."
Be aware that at the end of the song, the speaker contemplates a new romance.
2. "(All I Can Do Is) Dream You" from Black and White Night
Here's another Roy Orbison song about someone missing a lover who left. It includes the lines:
"Everyday I pray
That somewhere down the line
We will meet again
I'll find a way
To get you back somehow
But baby, until then
All I can do is dream you."
3. "Crying" from Crying
While this song is about a relationship that ended with a breakup, it could be a poignant choice to play at the funeral of a loved one. The song has a melancholy, heartbreaking tone.
Even though the song may describe how you feel following the loss of your loved one, it is not typical of the style that you often hear at a funeral.
4. "Pretty Paper" from More of Roy Orbison's Greatest Hits
"Pretty Paper" was written by Willie Nelson, who later recorded a version of it himself. According to the song's Wikipedia page, the inspiration for the lyrics came from a disabled man who sat on the sidewalk selling paper and pencils. To attract attention, the man yelled, "Pretty paper!" to passersby.
5. "In Dreams" from In Dreams
This would undoubtedly be a heart-wrenching song for a funeral. While it is about a relationship that ends, it is also about missing someone and looking forward to seeing them in your dreams.
"In dreams I walk with you
In dreams I talk to you
In dreams you're mine all of the time
We're together in dreams, in dreams."
6. "Blue Bayou" from Black and White Night
People pick funeral songs for many different reasons. For example, you might select this song if your loved one had ties to the bayou.
7. "California Blue" from Mystery Girl
The chorus from this song, "California Blue," reads:
Dreaming all alone
Nothing else to do
Everyday I pray
I'll be on my way
Saving love for you
8. "In the Real World" from Mystery Girl
This song has a somber tone. But, again, while this song is about the heartbreak caused by a broken relationship, some of the lyrics may remind you of other types of loss.
"In the real world
There are things that we can't change
And endings come to us
In ways that we can't rearrange."
9. "Blue Angel" from Lonely and Blue
"Blue Angel" is one of Roy Orbison's early pieces. It was released in 1960.
10. "Windsurfer" from Mystery Girl
If the deceased enjoyed surfing, this might be a song you would consider for their funeral. However, read the lyrics before making your decision.
11. "I Can't Stop Loving You" from The Big O: Roy Orbison
Many artists have recorded a version of this song.
12. "My Prayer" from The Big O: Roy Orbison
You might not be familiar with this Roy Orbison song, but it speaks of hope for long-lasting love. The lyrics to the chorus read:
"My prayer is to linger with you
At the end of the day, in a dream that's divine
My prayer is a rapture in blue
With the world far away and your lips close to mine."
Uplifting Roy Orbison Songs for a Funeral
There could be many different reasons that you are looking for an uplifting song for an end-of-life service. For example, some people choose to have a "celebration of life" for the deceased and may select only uplifting songs for the occasion. Others may pick pieces that were beloved by their loved ones or remind them of a happy experience.
Here are some Roy Orbison songs to consider. And, yes, "Pretty Woman" is on our list.
13. "Oh, Pretty Woman" from The Ultimate Collection: Roy Orbison
Probably the most popular Roy Orbison song of all time, "Oh, Pretty Woman" might be a perfect choice as background music for a photo presentation at a visitation.
You might pick the song because you would like to highlight that your loved one was a beautiful woman. You might also want to use the music because it is reminiscent of the 1960s.
14. "You Got It" from Mystery Girl
Similar in theme to "Oh, Pretty Woman," "You Got It" is another ode to a beautiful woman. The song begins:
"Every time I look into your lovely eyes,
I see a love that money just can't buy.
One look from you, I drift away.
I pray that you are here to stay."
15. "Candy Man" from Black and White Night
"Candy Man" is another song of Roy Orbison's about wooing a beautiful woman. It was released in 1961 as the B side to the song "Crying."
16. "Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream?)" from Roy Orbison's Greatest Hits
A person is thinking about (and dreaming about) their lover in this song released in 1962.
17. "Uptown" from Crying
A bellhop dreams of pursuing a woman who lives in a penthouse – as soon as he makes enough money for fine clothes and a fancy lifestyle.
This isn't the typical-sounding funeral song, but there might be a reason it's the perfect choice for your situation.
Roy Orbison Songs for a Parent's Funeral
If your parents' formative years were in the 1950s and 1960s, you might consider using a Roy Orbison song at their funeral. Here are some pieces to consider – especially if your family member was named "Claudette" or "Leah."
18. "Claudette" from Black and White Night
Did your mom happen to be named "Claudette"? If so, you might have grown up listening to this Roy Orbison song. So, of course, regardless of the song's upbeat tone, you might consider playing this at your mom's funeral.
19. "Ooby Dooby" from Black and White Night
As you can guess from the title, there's not much depth to the lyrics of "Ooby Dooby." Consider using this song as background music to pictures of your parents dancing and having a good time in the late 1950s or early 1960s.
20. "Leah" from Black and White Night
You might consider this song if the deceased was named "Leah." However, read the lyrics before you commit to the choice. Like many performed by Orbison, this song is about broken hearts and lost love.
Picking Songs Is Harder Than You Might Think
Choosing popular music for a funeral is more challenging than you would think. After all, most people consider the tone of the song and the impression that it would give to the guests at the event.
If you select a popular song for a loved one's funeral, consider the event's location. For example, some pieces may be appropriate at a celebration of life held in your loved one's honor at a restaurant or bar. However, many people would not consider these songs suitable for a funeral at a church or other religious setting.
Consider talking with the officiant leading the service for advice. You might also use popular songs beloved by you and your loved one during a photo presentation.