Tom Petty, the frontman of the Heartbreakers, is one of the most enduring rockers of all time. Even without any of the drama of Freddie Mercury, or the flashiness of Michael Jackson, his career persisted. Petty wrote about despair and hope, and his roots as a wild child. With such a lengthy, full career, it makes sense that many people are diehard Petty fans.
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Tom Petty had a strong fanbase and a wide emotional range for his songs. Putting his songs on your funeral soundtrack is a great option. Some of his songs are tragic and wistful, mourning lost loves or people who have walked out of your life. Others are a wild time, perfect for celebrating an adventurous life well lived.
Whether you're trying to craft a soundtrack for a celebration of life or a funeral, we've got you covered.
COVID-19 tip: If you're hosting a Zoom funeral using a service like GatheringUs, ask your online guests to request songs them remind you of your deceased loved one, then play them during the virtual reception. Make a digital playlist of the requested songs and send the playlist's link out with your funeral thank you cards.
Best Sad Tom Petty Songs for a Funeral
Taking the time to mourn and feel grief is important. Equally important, though, is seeing the light of hope at the end of a tunnel. Many of Tom Petty's songs reflect this balance between hope and outright despair. Petty's work gets praise for being realistic, rather than glamorized rock 'n' roll fare.
1. “Something Good Coming” from Mojo
What do you do when it feels like nothing good will ever happen in your life again? Tom Petty says that you should hang on to hope that something good is already on its way.
2. “You and I Will Meet Again” from Into the Great Wide Open
This song is a refusal to say goodbye and a promise of reunion. If you believe in heaven, this is a firm vow to reunite with your loved one again.
3. “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” from Bella Donna
This song is famous as a featured entry on a Stevie Nicks album. As a collaboration between Nicks and Petty, it became an American classic.
4. “Alright for Now” from Full Moon Fever
This song is about weathering the trials of life through love. Petty sings about how he “could not repay all you’ve done for me.”
5. “Wake Up Time” from Wildflowers
Sometimes, overcoming pain seems impossible. You're alone and have no one at your side. This entire album insists that you wake up and see there's hope in the middle of despair.
6. “No Reason to Cry” from Mojo
After a tragic loss, sometimes all you want is to see someone again. Petty sings about his memories overcoming his sadness and wishing them well.
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7. “Learning to Fly” from Into the Great Wide Open
Many of Petty’s songs straddled a line between despair and hope. While he admits how he feels, Petty also insists that this too will pass. He’ll learn to fly again.
8. “Out in the Cold” from Into the Great Wide Open
Sometimes, it feels like there’s nowhere to go. You can’t escape your feelings, and it’s like you’re locked outside in the cold.
9. “The Waiting” from Hard Promises
Waiting to heal and recover from loss, is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. Tom Petty, true to his band’s name, sings about heartbreak and how it won’t last forever.
10. “Time to Move On” from Wildflowers
It’s easy to become trapped in a vicious cycle of grief. If you lost the center of your universe, what else can you do? Tom Petty literally offers the helping words, “time to move on.”
11. “It’ll All Work Out” from Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough)
This is a wistful song about letting someone go before you’re ready. Even if it’s too early, Petty hopes that they’ll be happy elsewhere.
12. “Somewhere Under Heaven” from Wildflowers
If you don’t have anything, holding on to what you’ve got is challenging. If you’ve got one person left to love, though, Petty insists you hold on to them.
Best Happy Tom Petty Songs for a Funeral
As a champion of the rock ‘n’ roll genre, Tom Petty produced many upbeat tracks. Since Petty never wrote with funerals in mind, you'll have to be creative. Consider someone's life, personality, and values.
If they could choose their own legacy, what would they want people to remember? They might want to showcase their own sense of adventure, or their ability to laugh off troubles. No matter what you choose, Tom Petty's diverse portfolio of work has an option for you. If you need more joyful recommendations, read out picks for the best uplifting funeral songs.
13. “End of the Line” from The Traveling Wilburys Volume 1
Throughout his iconic career, Tom Petty collaborated with many artists. This production insists that it’s alright, especially since you’re “doing the best you can.”
14. “Lonesome Sundown” from Echo
This song is about moving on by admitting how much you’re hurt. Surrounding yourself with the love you have left is key.
15. “Hometown Blues” from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
This song is about the excitement of meeting someone new and special. They can help you make the best of your life while it lasts.
16. “Love Is A Long Road” from Full Moon Fever
No matter how much you love someone, life is still challenging. Letting them go and living without them is even harder.
17. “Rebels” from Southern Accents
Was your loved one a wild child? Were they interested in breaking the rules and pushing their limits? This song celebrates that aspect of their personality.
18. “Square One” from Highway Companion
This song is a candid acknowledgment of the struggle it takes to stand up again after being knocked down.
19. “A Higher Place” from Wildflowers
If your loved one was a huge part of your life, you weathered many of life’s storms together. This song celebrates the resilience it took to do that.
20. “The Best of Everything” from Southern Accents
Sometimes, people leave your life without ever knowing the great impact they had. Petty sends a wish to those people, that they experience the best of everything.
21. “It’ll All Work Out” from Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough)
No matter how tangled life gets, it all works out in the end. This is the tale of a complicated romance, even as Petty was “pledged to her for worse or better.”
22. “American Girl” from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Was your loved one an adventurer, convinced that there was a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? Petty celebrates those traits in this iconic song.
23. “Free Fallin’” from Full Moon Fever
This song is a staple of the classic rock genre. It’s the story of a man who fell in love with a girl he left behind. It’s a reminder of how indelibly someone can imprint themselves on your heart.
24. “I Won’t Back Down” from Full Moon Fever
Some of the best people have a backbone of steel. They refuse to give up or give in and this song celebrates that personality trait.
26. “You Got Lucky” from Long After Dark
People who discover true love are the lucky ones.
Creating a Soundtrack
Crafting the perfect playlist for a service is challenging. You want to strike the right mood, of course. When you’re selecting the perfect Tom Petty songs, consider these soundtrack tips. First, consider the occasion. Is this a funeral, or a celebration of life? If it’s a funeral, making a soundtrack with a somber mood is appropriate. If it’s a celebration of life, combining the two will reflect the bittersweet mood.
Choosing songs that reflect someone’s personality is crucial, too. If they believed in never giving up and in pursuing adventure, many of Tom Petty’s songs are great choices. Making a mournful soundtrack would never work for them. Commemorating their personality in songs is one of the most special gifts you can give.
Consider the timing of the service, too. You might play some songs between prayers and eulogies. Others might play while people talk and mingle. Choose your soundtrack placement appropriately. If you're looking for more rock, check out our selections for the best rock funeral songs.