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30 Best Funeral Songs for the Older Generation

December 27, 2023
funeral songs for the older generation

I’ve carefully selected the best funeral songs for the older generation, offering a blend of timeless classics and meaningful melodies.

These songs provide comfort and reflection, capturing the essence of remembrance for those who have lived a rich life.

Top funeral songs for the older generation

  • “My Way” by Frank Sinatra
  • “Wind Beneath My Wings” by Bette Midler
  • “You Are So Beautiful” by Joe Cocker
  • “You’ll Never Walk Alone” by Gerry and the Pacemakers
  • “My Old Friend” by Tim McGraw
  • “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan
  • “The Living Years” by Mike + The Mechanics
  • “Walk On” by U2
  • “If I Should Fall Behind” by Bruce Springsteen
  • “When You Believe” by Whitney Houston & Mariah Carey

1. “My Way” by Frank Sinatra

“My Way” is a song by Frank Sinatra and lyrics by Paul Anka, released in 1969.

It is set to the tune of “Comme d’habitude” but is otherwise unrelated to the French song.

It quickly became Sinatra’s signature song, but he grew to dislike it according to his daughter.

It reached number two on both the United States Billboard Easy Listening Chart and the Canadian RPM Easy Listening chart upon release, as well as selling one million copies in the United Kingdom and being awarded platinum certification.

It is a powerful song that makes for a warm-hearted goodbye at a funeral.

2. “Wind Beneath My Wings” by Bette Midler

Bette Middler performed “Wind Beneath My Wings”, which was initially written by Jeff Silbar and Larry Henley, in 1988 as part of the soundtrack for the film Beaches.

It proved to be the most popular version of the song, winning Record of the Year and Song of the Year at the 1990 Grammy Awards.

It reached number one on the Australian charts and in the United States Billboard Hot 100.

It is a popular choice for a funeral song, especially with the older generation, because of its heartfelt lyrics and powerful message.

3. “You Are So Beautiful” by Joe Cocker

Joe Cocker’s version of “You Are So Beautiful” was released in 1974, a few months after the original was released by Billy Preston and Bruce Fisher.

He released it as part of his album I Can Stand a Little Rain.

It quickly became his highest-charting hit as a solo artist, reaching number five on the United States Billboard Hot 100 and number four on the Canadian Hot Singles chart.

Preston stated that the lyrics were inspired by his mother.

It is a passionate and sweeping piece that makes for a lovely funeral song for the older generation.

4. “You’ll Never Walk Alone” by Gerry and the Pacemakers

“You’ll Never Walk Alone” was originally a show tune from Carousel, a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical.

The most successful version was released by Gerry and the Pacemakers, a Liverpudlian group,  in 1963.

It stayed at number one on the United Kingdom Singles Chart for four consecutive weeks, as well as topping the charts in Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand.

It gained much of its popularity after it became the anthem of football club Liverpool F.C.

It is a meaningful choice for a funeral song for someone who was a Liverpool fan and is sure to remind funeralgoers of happy memories.

5. “My Old Friend” by Tim McGraw

“My Old Friend” was released by country music artist Tim McGraw in 2005 on his studio album Live Like You Were Dying.

It was written by Craig Wiseman ad Steve McEwan and is a nice choice for a funeral song to honor a country music fan.

It has been described as “one of the best singles of his career”, reaching number four on the Canada Country Radio & Records charts and number six on the United States Billboard Hot Country Songs charts.

6. “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan

Canadian singer Sarah McLachlan released “Angel” in 1997 as a part of her fourth studio album Surfacing.

McLachlan wrote it about the death of the Smashing Pumpkins’ keyboard player Jonathon Melvoin, who passed in 1996 from a heroin overdose.

The often-used funeral song charted in countless countries around the world, including hitting number one in Ireland and three different charts in the United States.

It ended at number one on the United States Billboard Adult Contemporary Year-End chart.

7. “The Living Years” by Mike + The Mechanics

“The Living Years” was written by B. A. Robertson and Mike Rutherford, for release by the latter’s British rock band Mike + The Mechanics.

The soft rock ballad was released in 1998 on their studio album Living Years.

Lyrically it discusses a son’s regret over his conflict with his father, who has now passed away.

It was a groundbreaking son, with Burt Bacharach stating that the song was one of the finest lyrics of the last decade.

The song topped the charts in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Japan, and the United States, becoming a worldwide hit. 

8. “Walk On” by U2

Irish rock band U2 released “Walk On” in 2001 on their tenth studio album All That You Can’t Leave Behind.

It went on to be a popular hit of theirs and was awarded Record of the Year at the 2002 Grammy Awards.

It reached number one on the Canadian Singles chart and in Portugal, as well as charting in numerous other countries worldwide.

Bono said he was inspired by a biblical passage, making it a beautiful funeral song for the older generation.

9. “If I Should Fall Behind” by Bruce Springsteen

“If I Should Fall Behind” is a 1992 song by Bruce Springsteen, recorded on his tenth studio album Lucky Town.

He dedicated the song to his second wife, Patti Scialfa, as a love song.

He stated it is one of his favorite love songs that he’s written, and is the most popular song from the album.

This makes it a lovely choice for a funeral song to say goodbye to a loved one.

10. “When You Believe” by Whitney Houston & Mariah Carey

Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey recorded “When You Believe” in 1998 for the DreamWorks film The Prince of Egypt.

The song hit the charts in numerous countries but only reached number one in Hungary.

It sold over one million copies in the United States, being certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, and has since become a popular choice for a funeral song for the older generation due to its biblical content.

11. “My Immortal” by Evanescence

“My Immortal” is a song released by the rock band Evanescence in 2003.

It was released as a part of their debut studio album Fallen and was written by Amy Lee and Ben Moody, the singer/pianist, and guitarist when they were just fifteen and sixteen.

The song is a power ballad about a spirit, making it an appropriate funeral song.

It gained a lot of popularity upon release, reaching number one in Canada, Greece, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

12. “Amazing Grace” by Various Artists

“Amazing Grace” is a 1779 Christian hymn that is particularly popular in the United States, where it is used for many religious purposes, including funerals.

Barack Obama even sang it in 2015 in honor of one of the victims of the Charleston Chruch Shooting.

There have been countless modern interpretations of the hymn, including by Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers, Elvis Presley, the Byrds, Skeeter Davis, Willie Nelson, Aretha Franklin, Rod Stewert, and Johnny Cash.

13. “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen released “Hallelujah” on his album Various Positions in 1984.

He worked extremely hard on the song, supposedly writing one hundred and fifty drafts of it.

It didn’t reach the Billboard charts until Cohen’s death in 2016 when it dramatically rose in popularity.

The song is thought to be partly biblical and partly pure romance, making it an obvious choice for a funeral song.

Cohen himself stated that it came from “a desire to affirm my faith in life, not in some formal religious way, but with enthusiasm, with emotion.”

14. “Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton

“Tears in Heaven” was written by Eric Clapton and Will Jennings about the tragic death of the former’s son Conor, who passed at just four years old.

The song is part of the soundtrack for the film Rush, on which it appeared in 1991.

Clapton won seven awards for the heartfelt song, including Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Vocal Performance Male at the 1993 Grammy Awards.

In 2004 it was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

He described the song as a “healing agent”, making it one of the best funeral songs for the older generation.

15. “In My Life” by the Beatles

“In My Life” is a 1965 hit by the Beatles which appears on their studio album Rubber Soul.

The writing is credited to the Lennon-McCartney partnership and details Lennon’s childhood memories.

The song reached number nine on the United States Billboard Hot 100, selling over four hundred thousand copies in the country upon release.

It has appeared on many ‘best songs’ lists and is thus very well known by the older generation.

16. “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel

“Bridge Over Troubled Water” was released by the duo Simon & Garfunkel in 1970 as the title track to their studio album of the same name.

The song has a gospel influence, making it a nice choice for a funeral song.

The song won five Grammy Awards in 1971; Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Contemporary Song, Best Arrangement, Instrumentals, and Vocals.

It charted at number one in Canada, France, Indonesia, New Zealand, the UK, and the US.

17. “Don’t Cry” by Guns N’ Roses

Guns N’ Roses released “Don’t Cry” in 1991 on two different albums, Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II.

It was born when Axl Rose and Issy Stradlin were both simultaneously heartbroken over the same girl.

The sad yet comforting song reached number one in Finland, Ireland, and Portugal, as well as charting in countless other countries around the world.

It sold over five hundred thousand copies in the United States, and two hundred thousand in the United Kingdom.

18. “Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole

“Unforgettable” was originally written by Irving Gordon in 1951, but the most popular version came when Nat King Cole released it later the same year on his album of the same name. 

Later, a father-daughter duet between Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole was released, totally digitally.

The beautiful harmonies and orchestration make for a gorgeous funeral song for the older generation.

It charted in three different charts in the United States and at number eighty-four in the United Kingdom Singles chart and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame nearly fifty years later.

19. “Over the Rainbow” by Judy Garland

“Over the Rainbow” was written for the well-known film The Wizard of Oz, which was sung by Judy Garland in 1939.

It quickly became her signature song and won the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

This classic song is a popular choice among the older generation for a funeral song because everyone knows it.

20. “We’ll Meet Again” by Vera Lynn

Vera Lynn released “We’ll Meet Again” in 1939, and it quickly became one of the most famous songs of the time surrounding the Second World War.

It was about soldiers going off to fight, and the effect on their families.

This makes it one of the best funeral songs for the older generation, especially for someone who fought in World War II.

The song had a huge cultural impact and still remains one of the most important songs in history today.

21. “To Love Somebody” by the Bee Gees

“To Love Somebody” was released by the Bee Gees in 1967 on their debut studio album Bee Gees 1st.

It has been described by Billboard as a “smooth, easy-beat ballad”, and is well-loved by Americans for its soulful style.

It sold over two hundred thousand copies in the United Kingdom upon release and charted in several countries worldwide.

22. “What A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong

“What A Wonderful World” was originally written by Bob Thiele and George David Weiss.

Louis Armstrong recorded the first version in 1967, and it became one of his signature songs.

It was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.

It is a nice way to send someone off with a joyful song, and a way of remembering them in a happy way.

23. “Piece of My Heart” by Big Brother and the Holding Company Feat. Janis Joplin

“Piece of My Heart” was originally written by Jerry Ragovoy and Bert Berns, and was recorded by Erma Franklin in 1967.

The song didn’t take off in the mainstream until Big Brother and the Holding Company released their version featuring Janis Joplin in 1968.

It was released as part of their album Cheap Thrills and sold over one million copies in the United States.

It is well-loved for its gospel shouts and emphatic build-up.

24. “Mama Tried” by Merle Haggard and The Strangers

Merle Haggard and The Strangers wrote “Mama Tried” in 1968 on the studio album of the same name.

In 1999 it was awarded the Grammy Hall of Fame award and is consistently referred to as one of the best songs of all time.

It reached number one on the United States Country Singles Chart and also on the Canadian Country Tracks Chart.

The song is a great choice for a funeral song for a country music fan.

25. “Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M.

“Everybody Hurts” was released by R.E.M. in 1992 on their studio album Automatic for the People.

It has been ranked on a multitude of ‘best songs’ lists, including number thirty-one on Q’s 1001 Best Songs Ever list.

It has been described as a “spare, honest, and emotional track” by Larry Flick from Billboard, making it a nice choice for a funeral song for the older generation.

26. “Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd

“Free Bird” is a song by the rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, released in 1973 on their debut studio album (Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd).

The song is said to be about how “everyone wants to be free, and that’s what [America] is about”.

The song was also popular in the United Kingdom, being certified Platinum by the British Phonographic Industry.

In the band’s live shows, they dedicate the song to the late Duane Allman.

27. “Go Rest High on That Mountain” by Vince Gill

Vince Gill released “Go Rest High on That Mountain” in 1995 as a part of his sixth studio album When Love Finds You.

It is a eulogy ballad that Gill began writing in memory of Keith Whitley and completed a few years later following the death of his brother.

The song doesn’t mention either but is written to be a tribute to someone who has died.

This makes it a lovely funeral song and is particularly popular with the older generation. 

28. “Life Without You” by Stevie Ray Vaughan

Stevie Ray Vaughan wrote “Life Without You” after the death of his mentor and long-term friend Charley Wirz.

It was released on his third studio album Soul to Soul in 1985.

It is a beautiful song about how much he loved and misses Wirz, and this makes it a lovely choice for a funeral song.

29. “Forever Young” by Rod Stewart

“Forever Young” is a song released by Rod Stewart in 1988 on his studio album Out of Order.

It is said to be a heartfelt song about his children and makes for a meaningful funeral song.

The song reached the top twenty on the Billboard Hot 100 and also charted in many countries around the world.

30. “Candle in the Wind” by Elton John

Elton John wrote the mourning threnody “Candle in the Wind” with the help of Bernie Taupin in 1973.

It was in honor of Marilyn Monroe, eleven years after her death.

John later re-released the song in honor of Diana, Princess of Wales.

It is known as one of the greatest songs of all time and is the perfect choice for a funeral song for the older generation.

It’s a song everyone knows and loves and is a beautiful mournful lament.

Best Funeral Songs for the Older Generation – Final Thoughts

We hope that this article gave you some ideas for funeral songs that will help you say goodbye to your loved ones.

These are some of the best funeral songs for the older generations and are some of the most culturally important songs through the decades.

Hopefully, a song in this list will be the right choice for you to honor the past.

You may also like: Best Gospel Funeral Songs

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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