Can You Really Play a Rock ‘n Roll Song At a Funeral?

by | Jun 27, 2021

A big part funerals or memorials are the songs that are chosen to play during the service. Usually there is an opening song, songs during a photo presentation, maybe a song for reflection time and then a song at the end of the service.

There are many websites from all over the world that provide lists of songs for funeral services. Hymns, traditional songs, sad songs, thought provoking songs and some happier songs – there are so many to choose from. Sometimes the choice is easy because the person being honoured had specific musical tastes such as rock, country or classical music or they may have been fans of particular singers or songwriters.

The choice of song can sometimes depend on the location of the service. There are some religious denominations that frown on certain types of songs being played at funerals held in churches. When arranging the funeral service for my Mother several years ago, the priest insisted on seeing the list of songs we had chosen for the service. Fortunately, the songs met with his approval. Not all religious denominations may have the same view but it’s probably best to check beforehand if you are considering a church service.

Some of the more popular songs played at services are:

“You Raise Me Up’ – Westlife
“Arms of an Angel” – Sarah McLachlan
“Alleluia” – various artists
“Amazing Grace’ – various artists
“My Way” – Frank Sinatra/Elvis Presley
and many, more.

Some families have asked me if they can play a certain song because their loved one really like it – and the answer is always “yes”. Some families were surprised because they thought the song may be considered disrespectful or too upbeat for a funeral. I advise families to play whatever is best for them and their memories. I encourage families to choose a song for the conclusion of the service that will help people feel a little less sad when they leave. This might be a favourite football team’s anthem, a song that the deceased person loved to sing, or maybe a rock ‘n roll or heavy metal song. I encourage people to clap or sing or dance if they want to, as we are celebrating someone’s life.

Examples of some of less traditional songs played at my services:

“Highway to Hell” – AD/DC (the deceased always told the family she wanted this played at her funeral)
“Shout!” – Johnny O’Keefe (the deceased gentleman was a huge fan and this was one his favourites)
“Shotgun” – George Ezra (a grandmother’s favourite)
“Devil Gate Drive” – Suzi Quatro (another grandmother’s favourite)
“Supermarket Flowers” – Ed Shearan (just beautiful)
“Wild Horses” – Rolling Stones

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to choosing a song for a service. The important factor is choosing a song that represented the person, how they lived and how the family remembers them.