When a loved one dies, funeral songs for older generation family members can be difficult to select. Should you go with traditional hymns that have been sung at funeral services for years, or should you try something more modern? Do they prefer classic songs or something more contemporary? In this blog post, we will explore the different types of music popular among funeral attendees and offer some tips on choosing the perfect mix of songs to celebrate your loved one’s life.

Who Are the “Older Generation?”

Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation are the “older generations” these days. And Gen X is coming up on that designation fast!

“About 19 million people belong to the silent generation (born 1928-1945). They are the “senior living” customers of today. Compare that to the 70 million baby boomers (born 1946-1964) just starting to enter the pool of potential “senior living” residents” (1)

Individuals in these generations love all kinds of music! However, the majority living in the United States did not grow up with much music selection availability.

For these generations, many knew and loved the same songs. It was not like 2023. Now, we can find bands in a million genres worldwide at the tip of our fingers. Back then, they grew up listening to the radio, bought popular “albums” if they had extra money, and possibly heard hymns in church each week.

The most popular funeral songs for these older generations range from classical to traditional hymns and popular music. Creating a music video that pays tribute to their life and times with the music they loved is always an excellent addition to funeral arrangements.

Many baby boomers enjoy the stylings of James Taylor, Eric Clapton, Jeff Buckley, or others. In contrast, the silent generation may enjoy older music, such as Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, or beloved hymns.

So let’s look at funeral songs for older generation family members next and see some of the songs they would find beautiful.

Funeral Service Selections: Popular Songs to Celebrate Life

Hearing a familiar sweet voice sing the best funeral songs at a funeral or memorial service can touch hearts and help begin healing for family and friends. Let’s look at some of the most popular funeral songs that many older generations would find beautiful to play at a funeral.

Upbeat Pop Funeral Songs

What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong

Happy funeral songs can help a celebration of life feel like an “I’ll see you again” instead of a final “Goodbye.” Popular funeral songs often include beautiful lyrics, and this is a classic song that almost everyone loves to hear.

Lyrics include:

I see trees of green, red roses too.

I watch them bloom for me and you.

And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

Older generations would have happy memories of watching “The Wizard of Oz. This beautiful song features a remake of a song from that movie. Uplifting songs help us remember good times rather than only feel sad. This song embodies that feeling that we all exist in each other’s hearts and minds.

Lyrics for this remake include:

Oh, somewhere over the rainbow

Bluebirds fly

And the dreams that you dreamed of

Dreams really do come true, ooh-ooh

Someday I’ll wish upon a star

Wake up where the clouds are far behind me

Where trouble melts like lemon drops

High above the chimney tops, that’s where

You’ll find me

Forever Young by Rod Stewart

Forever Young is all about how we can keep others young in our hearts by remembering them. It’s an ideal song to remember a loved one’s youth. Some of the lyrics include:

May the good Lord be with you

Down every road you roam

And may sunshine and happiness

Surround you when you’re far from home

Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton

This classic ballad speaks of love as ever-lasting. It can help funeral attendees feel comforted that the person they are honoring is still with them in spirit. Some of the lyrics that make it such a beautiful song include:

I feel wonderful

Because I see the love light in your eyes

And the wonder of it all

Is that you just don’t realize how much I love you

Only the Good Die Young by Billy Joel

This funeral song by Billy Joel is special in that it carries an attitude of celebrating the life someone enjoyed while they were here.

Many Dads listened to Only the Good Die Young while laughing at the idea that they would live a LONG life indeed. This can be an uplifting song for a father’s funeral.

Lyrics include:

You mighta heard I run with a dangerous crowd

We ain’t too pretty, we ain’t too proud

We might be laughing a bit too loud

Aw, but that never hurt no one

Fly Me to the Moon by Frank Sinatra

This funeral song is a classic favorite of the older generations. It’s a great way to honor someone who was a Sinatra fan, along with My Way.

Fly me to the moon

Let me play among the stars

And let me see what spring is like

On a-Jupiter and Mars

In other words, hold my hand

In other words, baby, kiss me

Melancholy Pop Songs to Remember and Grieve

Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd

A funeral song that is a touching tribute to someone who has passed away, this Pink Floyd classic song can bring comfort to those in attendance. Lyrics include:

So, so you think you can tell

Heaven from hell?

Blue skies from pain?

Can you tell a green field

From a cold steel rail?

A smile from a veil?

Do you think you can tell?

How I wish, how I wish you were here… 

Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler

This funeral song helps put into words the appreciation we have for our loved ones.

Wind Beneath My Wings came out in the 1990s, so it would have been a favorite of the baby boomers and silent generation. Lyrics include:

Did you ever know that you’re my hero?

And everything I would like to be?

I could fly higher than an eagle,

but You are the wind beneath my wings.

Candle in the Wind by Elton John

Elton John originally sung Candle in the Wind as a tribute to Marilyn Monroe. Many baby boomers consider this a great funeral song.

Elton John performed the remake for Princess Diana at her funeral. It was called Goodbye England’s Rose.

Both songs are about how sometimes life can be cut short in a tragic death. We celebrate someone’s life when they pass on, but it’s hard to celebrate a life that ends too soon. For baby boomers hoping to live into their 80’s, a mere five decades on earth can seem like a short life.

Lyrics for Candle in the Wind include:

Goodbye, Norma Jean

Though I never knew you at all

You had the grace to hold yourself

When those around you crawled.

So goodbye Norma Jean, from the young man in the 22nd row

Who sees you as something more than sexual.

And he bids you adieu.

The Princess Diana Goodbye England’s Rose version includes different lyrics:

Goodbye England’s rose;

may you ever grow in our hearts.

You were the grace that placed itself

where lives were torn apart.

You called out to our country,

and you whispered to those in pain.

Now you belong to heaven

and the stars spell out your name.

Because You Loved Me by Celine Dion

Song lyrics for a mother’s funeral are harder to pick because our mothers often hold such a dear part of our hearts. But this song is perfect for a supportive and loving Mom with these lyrics:

You were my strength when I was weak

You were my voice when I couldn’t speak.

You were my eyes when I couldn’t see.

You saw the best that was in me

Selecting a Country Song

If you’re worried that a loved one’s funeral may not pay tribute to their country or religious origins, consider selecting one or more beautiful songs from the country and western genre.

Love Me Tender by Elvis Presley

With Elvis’ sweet voice and this love song, the beautiful lyrics truly help service attenders appreciate the meaning of love and never letting go of the love you feel for your family.

Love me tender, love me long
Take me to your heart
For it’s there that I belong
And we’ll never part
Love me tender, love me true
All my dreams fulfilled
For my darling I love you
And I always will

He Stopped Loving Her Today by George Jones

This classic country funeral song will bring tears to the eyes of any funeral attendee as they realize that we must cherish life and love while we still have it. It’s also a song about loyalty and how you never really stop loving another person you truly love.

He kept her picture on his wallWent half crazy now and thenBut he still loved her through it allHoping she’d come back again

Selecting a Traditional Hymn Such as Amazing Grace

Religious funeral songs can be vitally important to your loved ones who grew up in church or other spiritual traditions that involved singing hymns or religious and traditional songs.

Go Rest High on That Mountain by Vince Gill

Go rest high on that mountain is all about knowing that someone lived a good life and can now rest and know that they loved well. It’s the perfect funeral song for someone who enjoyed both religious and country songs.

I know your lifeOn earth was troubledAnd only you could know the painYou weren’t afraid to face the devilYou were no stranger to the rain

Ave Maria by Luciano Pavarotti

This funeral song carries the beautiful message of faith and the power of prayer. Religious funeral attendees are sure to be comforted by Pavarotti’s strong voice as it carries through this treasured funeral song.

Lyrics include:

“Ave Maria! Maiden mild,

Oh, listen to a maiden’s prayer!

For thou canst hear amid the wild,

Thy maiden’s cry of funeral despair”

When We All Get to Heaven by Alan Jackson

This funeral song is a reminder to service attendees they will one day all reunite in Heaven with their loved ones. It’s an uplifting song about a future day

“When we all get to heaven

what a day of rejoicing that will be

when we all see Jesus

We’ll sing and shout the victory.”

How Great Thou Art by Carrie Underwood

This classic hymn is about praising God for His great works and how we can stay thankful for the blessings in our lives. It’s a funeral song favorite that is sure to bring comfort to funeral attendees during a time of sorrow.

Then sings my soul

My Savior, God, to Thee

How great thou art

How great thou art

Amazing Grace ft. Wintley Phipps (Live)

This beloved song would be near and dear to the hearts of most of those who grew up in the United States as the people we know as the Silent Generation. They would have heard it most of their lives, whether they attended church or not.

Amazing grace how sweet the soundThat saved a wretch like meI once was lost, but now I’m foundWas blind but now I see

Solo and Instrumental Selections

Any popular funeral song can be performed as an instrumental or vocal solo. An originally written song or a newer pop song your family members love can be a special performance.

A vocal or guitar solo can be a beautiful way to bring modern funeral songs into an older individual’s funeral. Older generations may also enjoy having someone on piano play at a funeral, whether the song features old or new tunes.

Planning a Funeral Service for Older Generation

When a loved one dies, it is important to celebrate their life in the most memorable and loving way possible. One way to do this is by choosing funeral songs that will reflect their life and what they enjoyed.

While there are many types of music to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which ones are the best fit. If you’re struggling to select funeral songs for an older loved one, don’t worry!

Your funeral home directors have experience helping pick songs that will touch hearts and bring back beloved memories of your loved one!

We Can Help

At Renaissance Funeral Home and Crematory, whether you’re planning memorial services or a funeral with family and close friends, we can help you create a funeral playlist that will honor your loved one.

We understand that funeral music choices are deeply personal. That’s why we take the time to learn about your loved one, their religious background, favorite types of music, and other interests. We strive to ensure the planned services reflect the personality and beliefs of your loved one.

Get in touch to find out how we can help you with your planning as you grieve with your loved ones.