Many people want popular songs to honor family members at memorial services. If you don’t already know what songs you’d like to have played, here are a few we recommend. They are very touching and speak directly to loss.
Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen
This song was originally released on Cohen’s album Various Positions in 1984. It wasn’t very successful at first. But the song became more popular from a recording by John Cale and Jeff Buckley. It became even more popular after being featured in the film Shrek (2001). The song has kind of an early rock and roll and gospel feel to it. The lyrics haven’t been consistent but have biblical references. One of the nice parts of this song for a memorial service is that it can be melancholic or uplifting, depending upon how it is performed.
Jealous of the Angels by Jenn Bostic
The song was written in 2012. Bostic is American country music and Christian music singer-songwriter. She wrote this song after her father’s tragic death. This is this would be an excellent song to play at a memorial service for someone who has lost a parent or spouse.
“I didn’t know today would be our last
Or that I’d have to say goodbye to you so fast
I’m so numb, I can’t feel anymore
Prayin’ you’d just walk back through that door”
I Could Find My Way by Enya
This song was dedicated Enya’s producer Nicky Ryan’s passed mother Mona. On writing the melody, wanted to dedicate the slow melody, very emotional melody to Mona. This song is especially good to express feeling of when a mother has passed away. You think about what you left behind in your life. That’s what you’ll always remember.
Not Dark Yet by Bob Dylan
This song has a heavy, haunting feel to it. The lyrics, “It’s not dark yet but it’s getting there” as confronting mortality. It’s been called a “moving end-of-life song written and sung by an aging artist who has somehow managed to remain vital.” The song expresses regret and cynicism of a life lived. A 2021 Guardian article included it on a list of “80 Bob Dylan songs everyone should know”.
Dancing with Your Ghost by Sasha Sloan
This song expressed the feelings of someone who haunted and broken but still optimistic. It expresses simple, raw emotion of someone who is experiencing the loss of a loved one. This song is beautiful with just instruments. The lyrics are heart-breaking but very touching. This song would be lovely for a wife who lost a husband.
“Yelling at the sky
Screaming at the world
Baby, why’d you go away?
I’m still your girl
Holding on too tight
Head up in the clouds
Heaven only knows
Where you are now”
Live music can be beautiful, soothing part life celebrations and memorial services. Choosing songs that reflect the person the family is honoring is a great way to personalize the funeral service, reception and other gatherings. The right funeral music can enhance the experience of grieving and remembering. That is why this is one area of planning families will want to take their time on.
Please contact us. We are happy to help talk through your musical selections with you.