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.
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
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.
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 then But he still loved her through it all Hoping 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 troubled And only you could know the pain You weren’t afraid to face the devil You 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.
“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 me I once was lost, but now I’m found Was 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.