Music is a crucial and important part of most modern ceremonies or rituals and because of the undeniably powerful emotions evoked this means that music can be more significant for its role within the funeral service than many other types of ceremony.
However, and here's the caveat, although the choice of music is purely a subjective decision based on many factors, and given the importance of the occasion, we would like to offer you this one simple line of guidance which is founded on our own experiences and would be useful for you to consider. "There is an extremely thin line between that which is considered by most people to be ‘appropriate' funeral music and ‘inappropriate' funeral music," for example: Meat Loaf and Bat Out Of Hell may be considered to be funeral music in extremely bad taste if played at the funeral of a person who has died due to a motorbike accident, but Steppenwolf and Born To Be Wild may be absolutely perfect.
Having said that, we still encourage you to explore all the possibilities because this is important and you will only have the one opportunity to get it right.
The tribute music which is the piece generally played after either the eulogy or the quite moment of reflection, is usually judged to be of the most significance. So with that in mind here are some questions you can ask yourself and take into account when considering your selection.
- Was it particularly requested by the deceased?
- Given the choice, would it be something the deceased might have chosen, or rejected?
- Would you have chosen this funeral music for yourself, and if so, is that your only motivation now?
- Is it a particular favourite of the deceased?
- Is it significant in any way to the deceased?
- Is it significant in any way that connects the deceased with yourself or anyone else who is likely to attend the service?
- Do you want a particular piece of funeral music to convey a certain sentiment or message to the deceased and/or the mourners?
- Do you want it to convey a certain sentiment or message from the deceased?
- Do you want it to reflect the personality or lifestyle of the deceased?
Clearly there are no right or wrong answers to the above because each individuals circumstances are entirely different and the questions are posed purely to help you with the decision making process, but if there is a special significance or connection to the deceased, ensure that this is mentioned prior to (not after) the piece being played, in order that the mourners can understand and appreciate that connection.
The compilations of funeral music suggestions presented here have come from various different sources, but mainly they are from our own funeral music lists that we have collected over the years, it would be impossible to catalogue all the funeral music that there is and we know there are many great tunes and songs that we may have missed, if you have a suggestion or a particular favourite that you think should be included in this collection of funeral music then do let us know.
If you have been browsing this collection of funeral music you may be wondering how some of the songs here could be classed as "suitable" for a funeral, in order to fully understand their inclusion you must listen to, and imagine them in the context of being played during a funeral service, for example, the song "As Usual" by Brenda Lee is about no longer being with a lost lover and how she imagines him to still be around, but the lyrics also fit in perfectly with the loss of a loved one through a death, although that particular scenario wouldn't necessarily spring to mind unless the song was heard in the context of a funeral setting, another good example is "Everything I Own" by Bread.
Other songs are popular for funeral music just because of one or two lines that express a certain thought that seems to fit in well within the context of a funeral, some examples of these type of songs are: "Simply The Best" - Tina Turner, "The Show Must Go On" - Queen, "Everybody Hurts"- REM, "Carry Me (Like A Fire In Your Heart)" - Chris De Burgh, "I Will Always Love You"- Whitney Houston.
In particular, when you read or listen carefully to the lyrics of Tina Turner's "Simply the Best" It's hard to believe that this is an immensely popular funeral requested song (at one time it was the most requested ever) but the two very powerful lines "You're simply the best, better than all the rest. Better than anyone, anyone I've ever met" are repeated often enough to cancel out all the other lyrics, and when listened to as funeral music in the perspective of a funeral ceremony it seems these are the only lines that your brain will allow you to register anyway, there are many more examples of this in popular music, so this means you don't have to immediately dismiss a particular song just because the lyrics are not exactly how you would prefer them.
Of course if you are playing a piece because it was requested by, or was a particular favorite of the deceased then it doesn't matter to much about whether the lyrics fit in with the occasion or not (but bear in mind the previous caveat).