Dolly Parton has been a staple singer-songwriter for over five decades. Her charm, talent, class, and strength pervades her actions, words, and every song she sings. If your loved one was a fan or if you think this singer’s powerful vocals are ideal for a celebration of life, here is a list of the best Dolly Parton funeral songs.
1. “How Great Thou Art” by Dolly Parton
Song Year: 1971
People often sing this classic hymn at church services but it is also ideal for occasions like funerals. It lifts the focus from sadness and weariness to praising the greatness of God, which can bring great comfort to mourners. It honors the deceased while also providing an outlet for the mourners.
Everyone gathered at the funeral can either sing their lungs out with feeling or let the music and lyrics transcend the situation while they listen quietly.
This song is great for Christian families or if the deceased was a devout Christian. It’s a celebration of the wonder and power of God. Parton’s rendition is soulful and heartfelt, making this version one of the most beloved versions of this classic hymn.
2. “Let Her Fly” by Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, and Tammy Wynette
Song Year: 1993
This song is explicitly about death. The beginning talks about how the deceased doesn’t live at her home anymore. There is a wreath on the door, which is a traditional way of letting those who pass by know there has been a death in that home.
The main refrain talks about the loved one as an angel, which is where the song title comes from. This song seems to refer to a mother figure, but it is versatile and can be perfect for any female funeral. The words are sweet, and the harmonies by three country music legends make this song a heartfelt and heartbreaking song to play at a funeral.
3. “I’m Gonna Miss You” by Dolly Parton
Song Year: 2003
Parton pays tribute to fallen veterans in this song, whether they died in battle or they passed away after their service. She explicitly tells them that their fight is over now, they are free to rest, and that we appreciate everything they went through. They can finally relax and stop fighting.
Just as Dolly Parton wrote “Let Her Fly” for a female and mother figure, this song is for veterans and their particular challenges in mind. This song is an excellent choice for a veteran’s funeral if their family wants to emphasize the deceased time in the military.
If military service was a major part of the deceased’s identity and life, it’s only appropriate to recognize that with a song like this. It emphasizes how the deceased is now with God and how everyone left behind will miss them.
4. “I Will Always Love You” by Dolly Parton
Song Year: 1974
This amazing classic written almost fifty years ago is one of the most popular love songs of all time. Whitney Houston covered it in 1992 for the movie The Bodyguard, making it an international hit. This is more than just an amazing love song; “I Will Always Love You” is the song Parton herself said she would like sung at her own funeral.
Countless artists, both amateur and professional, have covered this song for half a century. No matter how often people perform this song, it remains a classic of undying devotion and respect.
It may be an unexpected choice for more traditionalists as a funeral song, but it is an excellent choice if requested by the deceased. It can also be very powerful if the spouse of the deceased sings this song at the funeral.
5. “Precious Memories” by Dolly Parton
Song Year: 1999
This beautiful song paints pictures of an idyllic childhood full of memories with a loving mother and father. It would be a wonderful song to show respect and love to a father or mother who passed away, and it could even work for the funeral of anyone who enjoyed Parton, her voice, and her spirit.
“Precious Memories” can help mourners beautifully remember the deceased, as the song talks about angels being all around. The song’s peaceful lyrics and calming melody would be a lovely song to play at a wake or even while the coffin is being lowered and mourners say their final goodbyes.
6. “Shine On” by Dolly Parton
Song Year: 1998
This gorgeous song is about God’s divine love and how it permeates all of us through gifts that we must let shine into others’ lives. This song makes an amazing song for a funeral to honor a person who touched the lives of those around them in beautiful ways and affected people’s lives in a way no one else could have.
Parton wrote and performed“Shine On” to honor the passing of her long-time colleague and friend, Tammy Wynette. It does an incredible job of highlighting the beauty of life and love that an individual can leave on those that remain behind after they’re gone.
Parton’s arrangement is reminiscent of a traditional hymn, complete with vocal harmonies and a cadence that any churchgoer would recognize. The song emphasizes that each person has a special gift from God that they shouldn’t be afraid to share with the world.
7. “We Used To” by Dolly Parton
Song Year: 1975
Although Parton wrote this poetic and mournful song about a romantic breakup, it does work perfectly for the occasion of honoring a passed loved one, especially a spouse or significant other.
Not only are Parton’s vocals emotionally wrenching and poignant; the lyrics convey a sense of loss of seemingly ordinary activities that have a more extraordinary connotation now that the singer can no longer share them with their loved one.
“We Used To” through the lens of a funeral for a significant other can be a powerful way to mourn the loss of someone with whom you shared intimacy through the amazing as well as the mundane. It is a song of mourning, though delivered beautifully and with a true sense of respect for the person who is now gone.
8. “Light of a Clear Blue Morning” by Dolly Parton
Song Year: 1977
Again, a song about a breakup makes our list, but Parton’s writing and delivery are such that she can express feelings of loss and heartbreak with far-reaching applications for many different occasions.
This song talks about how she’s been looking for the sun because she hasn’t seen it in a long time, describing a journey through darkness, but then the tone changes to an upbeat chorus. In the chorus, Parton expresses her knowledge that although she’s still in the darkness and bound by her sorrowful feelings and experiences, she can see that the light is coming.
This song selection for a funeral is great for someone who wants to keep the feelings of their mournful loved ones in consideration. Even though it has a subdued air, it is also good for those who also want an ultimately uplifting and hopeful song for their funeral.
The song also has a measure of triumph to it. It not only uplifts the listener but also describes the singer’s experience as hopeful even through great times of trial or darkness. It shows that they overcame these challenges, making this Parton number a lovely choice.
9. “When I Get Where I’m Going” by Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton
Song Year: 2005
Yes, Brad Paisley is the main artist of this song, but none other than the legendary Dolly Parton herself sings the harmony in the chorus. Her particular harmonizing does not overpower Paisley’s voice. It dances and swirls around it the way only Dolly’s voice can, proving yet again what makes her a legend in the country music industry.
This beautiful song is mostly talking about how the people left behind after the narrator passes on should not be overcome with sadness and hopelessness. They need to be happy that the deceased can now rest. They know they will walk again with the loved ones that have gone on before and know that they will join them someday.
Although this is a song where Brad Paisley is the main voice, it makes our list because we feel that Dolly Parton’s harmonizing on the chorus is essential to this moving and ultimately hopeful song. She brings a feeling and elevation to the song that makes it even more powerful than if Mr. Paisley recorded it solo.
10. “Amazing Grace” by Dolly Parton
Song Year: 1999
Parton is definitely toward the bottom of a long list of performers who have sung and recorded this 250-year-old hymn, but her rendition is one of the most famous. Her pure vocals and the obvious heartfelt nature of her voice are perfect for hymns and gospel songs.
The story of the song makes it even more poignant. A former slave trader wrote it in 1772 to show repentance. He spent the rest of his life in poverty serving others.
“Amazing Grace” has been a popular traditional song for many occasions, but especially funerals. According to the Christian tradition, we are all in need of saving, but God has already done this. The song expresses thankfulness and humility in the face of a loving God. This song is a lovely pick for those who wish to blend tradition with a country flavor.
11. “My Tennessee Mountain Home” by Dolly Parton
Song Year: 1973
Parton released this song when she was twenty-seven years old about where she grew up. It’s also the name of her eleventh album on which the song appears. The album cover is an actual picture of her childhood home.
This may seem an odd choice at first for a funeral song, but for a Dolly Parton fan who also hails from a quiet, rural locale, it may be a perfect choice. The song paints a beautiful picture of nature. It describes a quiet, peaceful home where crickets sing and eagle fly.
The song features traditional country and blues chord progressions and even a harmonica in the background. It’s about a simpler time, a simpler place without so many pressures of everyday life. Once you give the song one listen, you might wish you were from similar circumstances as Ms. Parton.
12. “Wildflowers” by Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt
Song Year: 1987
Dolly Parton performs the main vocals in “Wildflowers.” Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt join her with beautiful harmonies. It is truly a folk/country-style anthem for women who refuse to be meek and must find the freedom to think, do, and say what they want.
It has a pleasant and carefree melody, but the lyrics belie a deeper issue. The singer says they didn’t belong where they were originally and that there was no room to grow in their past. Therefore they had to get away to find a place to flourish.
This song is an upbeat melody with deep lyrics that would be a great addition to the funeral of a woman (or anyone!) who did not fit with the status quo, who was famous for bending the rules and for marching to their own rhythm. “Wildflowers” is cheerful but full of deep emotion. It is a perfect anthem for the rebels we know and love.
13. “You Are” by Dolly Parton
Song Year: 1977
The last song on our list is the stunning “You Are.” Parton recorded this song with a soft guitar accompaniment, making her voice the star of the show. She let her natural aura and the beauty of the lyrics shine through.
This song can be ideal for the funeral of a child, a significant other, a grandparent, or even a best friend. The lyrics are all about how the deceased is everything to the singer. She calls the listener her evening star, and she loves them for a million reasons that she cannot fully explain with words.
We cannot think of a more fitting tribute to a lost child, parent, spouse, or any loved one than “You Are,” as it celebrates pure love for that individual. The chorus brings in a full band that helps bring the emotion to a crescendo. Mourners can process their feelings with this powerful song.
Dolly Parton Funeral Songs, Final Thoughts
Dolly Parton has been an absolute staple and legend within and without the country music world for half a century. She is phenomenal at conveying powerful emotions through stunning melodies. Her work is full of beautiful choices for funerary services and other occasions.