What song do most people want played at their funeral?

Funerals are a time to remember and celebrate a person’s life. Music often plays a special role in funeral services, allowing mourners to hear meaningful songs that honor the deceased. People frequently request certain songs to be played at their funeral, as music can express emotions and memories in a profound way. But do most people tend to prefer the same funeral songs? Research provides insight into the most commonly requested funeral songs.

Most Requested Funeral Songs

Several surveys and studies have aimed to identify the funeral songs that people most often want played at their memorial services. Here are some of the most popular choices that emerge:

Amazing Grace

The hymn “Amazing Grace” consistently tops lists of the most popular funeral songs. It is a spiritual song that speaks to the wonder of salvation and God’s forgiveness and grace. Originally written by John Newton in the late 18th century, it is now a beloved classic funeral song.

“Wind Beneath My Wings” by Bette Midler

This pop ballad was released by Bette Midler for the film Beaches in 1988. With meaningful lyrics about appreciation for someone who provides support, it has become a frequent funeral song selection. The emotional lyrics about flying “higher than an eagle” with the wind beneath your wings resonate with mourners.

“Memory” from the musical Cats

This Andrew Lloyd Webber showtune from 1981 evokes treasured memories of happy times with a loved one. It is often chosen by those wishing to inspire fond remembrances at their funeral service. Sung by Elaine Paige in the musical, it stirs emotion with its lyric “touch me, it’s so easy to leave me all alone with the memory of my days in the sun.”

“My Way” by Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra’s classic 1969 version of this song has become a popular funeral pick due to its uplifting lyrics about living life your own way. The line “I did it my way” sums up how many wish to be remembered for their unique personality and outlook on life.

“Time to Say Goodbye” by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman

Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli and English classical crossover performer Sarah Brightman recorded this duet together in 1997. Titled “Con te partirò” in its original Italian version, this sweeping, dramatic ballad promises to “fly away” to a new journey, making it a common funeral selection.

Factors Influencing Choice of Funeral Songs

What makes certain songs rise above others as more frequently picked funeral songs? Some factors that can come into play include:

Personal Meaning

Songs that held special meaning for the deceased or their loved ones are often requested. These songs remind mourners of cherished experiences like first dances at weddings, favorite concerts and shows, or meaningful memories.

Emotional Content

Songs with poignant, emotional lyrics that touch on love, loss, memory, appreciation, hope, and faith tend to resonate at funerals. Songs that move people to tears or capture the mood of saying goodbye are popular choices.

Religious Affiliation

For religious individuals, songs of worship like hymns and spirituals are fitting funeral choices. Even non-religious people often find comfort in spiritual songs that express faith and belief in an afterlife.

Cultural Tradition

Cultural background can inform musical funeral choices as well. Some Spanish-speaking families opt for mariachi songs, while New Orleans jazz is a frequent pick for Louisiana funerals. Bagpipers playing “Amazing Grace” are traditional at police and firefighter funerals.

Musical Tastes

Loved ones often select songs that aligned with the deceased person’s musical preferences in life, whether classical, classic rock, folk, country, or other genres. Funeral songs the person enjoyed resonate as a musical last tribute.

Why These Songs Resonate at Funerals

The most frequently chosen funeral songs tend to share common features that make them fitting for memorial services:


Popular, well-known songs do not require mourners to follow unfamiliar lyrics, so they can simply listen and absorb the music. Familiar songs feel like an old friend at a time of loss.


Songs like hymns and pop ballads have melodies and ranges that most people can comfortably sing along to together. Group singing brings a sense of community to funerals.


Basic, uncomplicated melodies and lyrics allow funeral songs to be accessible and meaningful to mourners of diverse ages and musical backgrounds. Simple songs can profoundly touch listeners’ hearts.


Songs that speak to hope, endurance, faith, memories, heaven, and goodbyes offer mourners consolation. Transcendent funeral songs affirm life after loss.


Songs with wide appeal that cross genres, cultures, and generations can make funerals inclusive. Universally-known songs provide a shared experience.

Funeral Songs Reflect Culture

While certain funeral songs like “Amazing Grace” and “Memory” are requested internationally, preferred funeral music often contains subtle cultural and regional differences as well.

European Funeral Songs

– Classical requiems like Mozart’s Lacrimosa and Fauré’s In Paradisum
– Traditional hymns like “Abide With Me”
– Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”

American Funeral Songs

– Christian hymns and spirituals like “Amazing Grace”
– Patriotic songs like “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”
– Country and rock like Willie Nelson’s “On The Road Again”

Latin American Funeral Songs

– Traditional mariachi songs
– Latin pop like Juan Gabriel’s “Amor Eterno”
– Folk songs like “Guantanamera”

African-American Funeral Songs

– Gospel spirituals like “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”
– Blues and jazz selections
– R&B classics like “I’ll Be Missing You”

Most Requested Songs According to Profession

Studies analyzing differences in funeral song requests by profession reveal some patterns:

Military Funeral Songs

– U.S. armed forces anthems for the relevant branch
– “Taps” bugle call
– Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.”

Police Officer Funeral Songs

– “Bad Boys” theme song
– Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You”
– “Wind Beneath My Wings”

Firefighter Funeral Songs

– “Wind Beneath My Wings”
– “Hero” by Mariah Carey
– Melvin Taylor’s “Amazing Grace” bagpipe version

Celebrity Funeral Songs

– Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”
– Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable”
– Monty Python’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”

Impact of Changing Musical Preferences Over Time

Popular funeral song choices evolve across generations as musical taste changes.

Funeral Songs of the 1900s-1920s

Mournful classical compositions and traditional hymns were common, including:
– Frédéric Chopin’s “Funeral March”
– Johannes Brahms’ “A German Requiem”
– “Abide with Me”
– “Nearer, My God, to Thee”

Funeral Songs of the 1930s-1950s

Somber church hymns were still predominant, but use of other genres emerged, like:
– Duke Ellington’s jazz version of “In a Sentimental Mood”
– Judy Garland’s “Over the Rainbow”
– Nat King Cole’s “Stardust”

Funeral Songs of the 1960s-1970s

More contemporary pop, rock, and R&B entered funerals, such as:
– The Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody”
– Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”
– Aretha Franklin’s “Respect”

Funeral Songs of the 1980s-2000s

New pop ballads became top choices, though some classics endured, like:
– Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You”
– Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”
– Eva Cassidy’s “Over the Rainbow”

Funeral Songs Today

– “See You Again” by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth
– “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen
– “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin

Regional Differences in Funeral Song Choices

Funeral Songs in the Southern U.S.

Southern funerals often feature traditional gospel hymns and country classics:
– “Amazing Grace”
– “I’ll Fly Away”
– “Go Rest High on that Mountain” by Vince Gill

Funeral Songs in the Northeastern U.S.

The Northeast exhibits more religious diversity, with secular classics alongside hymns:
– “Imagine” by John Lennon
– “Peace in the Valley”
– “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra

Funeral Songs in the Midwest U.S.

Midwestern services blend old and new songs from across genres:
– “Danny Boy”
– “Wind Beneath My Wings”
– “Thunder Road” by Bruce Springsteen

Funeral Songs on the West Coast U.S.

West Coast funerals range from unconventional to traditional:
– “Stairway to Heaven”
– “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”
– “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”

Who Chooses the Funeral Songs?

While the deceased may pre-select their funeral songs, often the songs are chosen by family members after they pass.


A husband or wife typically selects songs that represent the couple’s musical tastes and relationship memories.


Children may choose songs that remind them of time spent with parents, like lullabies, favorite tunes from family road trips, or their parent’s favorite genre.


Parents pre-arranging their child’s funeral tend to choose sentimental songs about love, loss, and family bonds.


Sisters and brothers may collaborate to choose songs with personal significance from their shared upbringing and experiences.

Close Friends

For individuals without close family, close friends may make the funeral music selections based on musical tastes.

Funeral Directors

If no personal representatives are involved, funeral directors suggest suitable options based on age, faith, and cultural background.

Tips for Selecting Funeral Songs

Choosing meaningful, fitting funeral songs is an important part of memorializing a loved one. Here are some helpful tips:

Consider the deceased’s taste

Select songs the person enjoyed in life as a musical last tribute to them. Upbeat songs they loved can celebrate life.

Choose songs with significance

Pick songs that capture special memories and moments you shared with the deceased.

Include cultural songs

Incorporate songs that honor the person’s cultural heritage and identity.

Reflect musical eras

Songs from youth and early adulthood can represent different phases of life.

Set an appropriate tone

Avoid abrupt shifts between somber, reflective songs and cheerful uptempo tunes.

Check song length

Very lengthy songs can disrupt the funeral program’s timing and flow. Opt for shorter versions or excerpts.

Consider religious beliefs

Select spiritual songs if faith was important to the deceased.


Music is a profoundly moving part of funeral services. While personal preferences differ, certain songs consistently rise to the top as the most requested funeral songs. Familiar classics that capture love, loss, hope, and faith resonate across ages and musical genres to commemorate a meaningful life. From “Amazing Grace” to “Memory,” the songs we choose for funerals reflect the unique lives mourners gather to celebrate and remember.

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