Rock Funeral Songs

Selecting classic rock songs for a funeral can be a challenging task, as rock is not a typical funeral genre. But, perhaps you wish to honor the deceased’s love for the genre by choosing rock funeral songs.

This list of songs encompasses a wide range of emotions, from fond recollections to grief-stricken farewells, and even includes tracks that may have been meaningful to the departed, offering comfort to those left behind.

“You’re My Best Friend” by Queen

Song Year: 1975

This emotional song, penned by John Deacon, beautifully conveys his unwavering love and devotion for his wife, a sentiment that resonates strongly through the lyrics.

Its relatable theme has touched the hearts of many who have found solace in its words, whether it’s for a dear friend, beloved parent, or romantic partner. In situations where painful emotions might otherwise dominate, this song offers a meaningful way to express one’s deepest feelings.

“Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)” by Green Day

Song Year: 1997

Despite its title, this song is surprisingly sweet and contemplative. Its underlying message is one of wishing the best for someone who has departed from your life, hoping they enjoyed their time with you.

The emotional tone of the song is further enhanced by the haunting melody of the violin, making it a fitting choice for somber occasions.

“Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing” by Aerosmith

Song Year: 1998

Aerosmith’s ballad from the late ’90s has become a timeless classic in the realm of funeral music, often requested due to its heartfelt and intimate lyrics.

The song can be interpreted in two ways: as a message from the deceased expressing their love for those they’ve left behind or as a love letter to those who have passed on, commemorating the precious moments they shared together.

“By My Side” by INXS

Song Year: 1990

This poignant song has the ability to unite mourners in a shared sense of grief and serve as a poignant reminder to cherish every moment spent with loved ones. It speaks to the profound sense of loneliness and heartbreak that comes with losing someone dear.

While the melody is somber, the song’s emotional impact is undeniably powerful and enduring.

“Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” by Bob Dylan

Song Year: 1991

Originally written by Bob Dylan in 1973, Guns n’ Roses covered it years later and updated it by adding a slightly faster tempo and a heavier rock background.

Dylan’s folk version is a classic for a reason—the lyrics are beautiful and heartfelt. This slow but emotional version of the song is a good choice for a funeral to honor a rock fan.

“Bridge Over Troubled Waters” by Simon and Garfunkel

Song Year: 1964

A line from a gospel song inspired this song, but its heartfelt lyrics have been covered by various artists from many different genres.

You can interpret the song in multiple ways, but many see it as a call to the person who has passed away that the singer will keep their spirit alive and always remember them.

“Tears In Heaven” by Eric Clapton

Song Year: 1992

Although most of the best rock funeral songs were not composed specifically about the loss of a loved one, they often touch on themes related to grief and bereavement. This song, however, was written directly in response to such a tragedy.

Eric Clapton penned this heart-wrenching piece after the sudden and untimely death of his young son, channeling his profound anguish into both the lyrics and the soulful melody.

“Let It Be” by the Beatles

Song Year: 1970

This poignant Beatles song was written by Paul McCartney in honor of his late mother, Mary, who is referenced in the lyrics as a representation of a divine figure.

Rather than a shared expression of grief, the song serves as a call to the listener, encouraging them to seek solace in the message of hope and resilience conveyed by the music.

The lyrics, which speak of finding understanding and purpose in the midst of sorrow, offer a glimmer of light in the darkness of loss.

“You’ll Be In My Heart” by Phil Collins

Song Year: 1999

This song is sung from the point of view of a person who has passed away. It provides a sense of comfort and reassurance to the listener, reminding them that the spiritual or emotional connection they share with their loved one will always endure, even if their loved one is no longer physically present.

It offers a message of hope, promising that their bond will remain unbroken and that their shared memories will continue to bring solace and peace. Like an angel on the family’s shoulder, the departed will watch after them long after death.

“Fade To Black” by Metallica

Song Year: 1984

Although less uplifting in theme than other songs on this list, this melancholy, heavy-rock song explores the darker themes of grief and mortality. It’s a good choice for heavy metal fans and for situations where accepting reality by those listening is for the best.

As the song draws to a close, the singer bids farewell, providing a poignant moment for everyone to collectively say their goodbyes. It’s a chance to acknowledge the significance of the moment and to honor the memory of the departed, allowing closure to be found in shared grief.

“Death Is Not the End” by Bob Dylan

Song Year: 1996

The song has been covered by Metallica and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, who provide heavier and alternative interpretations of the lyrics.

Through various scenarios, the song emphasizes the notion that a person’s passing does not mark the end of their legacy. The recurring title serves as a reminder that the loss of a loved one and death does not signify finality.

“Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinéad O’Connor

Song Year: 1990

This version is a cover of a Prince song, but the Irish singer Sinéad O’Connor lends intensity to the lyrics of this cathartic power ballad.

There are a variety of perceived meanings for this song, but for the purpose of a funeral rock song, it can be read as a melody of loss and longing.

“Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd

Song Year: 1975

One of the most requested songs for a funeral, “Wish You Were Here,” is hauntingly beautiful, with lyrics about grief and hope accompanied by delicate instrumentals.

The singer also struggles with a loss of faith, which can happen after losing a loved one when there doesn’t appear to be a reason or answer.

“Gravity Rides Everything” by Modest Mouse

Song Year: 2000

Another song that isn’t immediately obvious as being about loss or grief, this song discusses pieces falling into place and moving on despite hardships. You could read it as accepting death and trying to move forward without ignoring what has happened.

It’s not a happy song, but some of the meaning could be uplifting compared to grief.

“The Garden” by Rush

Song Year: 2012

Believed to be a personal song for the band, this track is haunting and relatable even outside a place of grief. For this reason, it fits well at a funeral or during a celebration of life ceremony.

It points out how meaningful every moment of life is, that spending even a short life together isn’t wasting it, and how it requires constant maintenance that can sometimes challenge us.

“Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel)” by Billy Joel

Song Year: 1993

This song was written and sung to the artist’s seven-year-old daughter, supposedly after she asked what would happen after he died. The music is comforting and soothing, like a traditional lullaby. That’s why Billy Joel chose to spell the word ‘lullabye’ to bring together lullaby and goodbye.

Still, instead of lulling the listener to sleep, it says goodbye and reminds them that memories live on and loved ones never really disappear.

“I Will Remember You” by Sarah McLachlan

Song Year: 1993

Because of its tear-inducing lyrics, people have been using this emotional and heart-wrenching song to evoke emotions in commercials for years. Its sincerity and love for another person make it perfect for a celebration-of-life ceremony.

Don’t let the lighter sound fool you; although softer than many other rock songs, this song’s simple but powerful instrumentals are a suitable fit even for a harder rock fan.

“Hear You Me” by Jimmy Eat World

Song Year: 2001

The band wrote this song to pay tribute to two passionate fans who passed away in a car accident on the way back from a show.

The song expresses the regret someone might feel when a loved one passes away suddenly and the loss associated with thinking there would be more time to do everything they wanted to do together.

“Stop Crying Your Heart Out” by Oasis

Song Year: 2002

Some songs commiserate with the grief-stricken, and some, like this song, act like an anti-depressant and encourage the listener to stop crying and get ready to take on life again.

The message isn’t harsh or cruel; perhaps that’s why it makes a good funeral song. It’s like a friend wrapping a supportive arm around your shoulder.

“Longer” by Dan Fogelberg

Song Year: 1979

While breakup songs often tell the story of love lost and the feeling of grief after a person passes away, love songs can also tell the story of love that continues unbroken regardless of death.

This love ballad speaks of everlasting love between two people that continues and never wavers, no matter the distance.

“Shadow Of The Day” by Linkin Park

Song Year: 2007

Although Linkin Park is known for loud and heavy music, this rock song is more mellow with just one singer and no backing harmonies. It’s a solemn song examining death and the idea that memories remain after death.

The song is about a friend who is ill or suffering, and the singer is telling them that it’s okay to let go and move on if it eases their pain.

“So Far Away” by Avenged Sevenfold

Song Year: 2011

Written by the lead guitarist Synyster Gates, Avenged Sevenfold dedicated the song to their late drummer Jimmy “the Rev” Sullivan, who passed away in 2009. It’s a passionate way for Synyster and the band to say goodbye to their friend.

It’s believed to have originally been written for the guitarist’s grandfather, but it works well to mark any friend’s or loved one’s passing.

“What I’ve Done” by Linkin Park

Song Year: 2007

This song has a relatively simple theme that you can apply to a funeral or celebration of life. It’s a song about moving on and forgetting old mistakes and instead remembering the good times.

Working within that theme, the song has a raw and stripped-back feel without the usual polish that Linkin Park songs often have.

“Wish You Were Here” by Incubus

Song Year: 2002

The initial intent behind the song was akin to sending a postcard from a tropical island vacation, expressing a desire for friends and family to witness the stunning scenery and splendor.

Yet, the same concept is applicable when mourning the loss of a loved one, as we yearn for them to witness what we do and partake in the moment together.

“I Am Sailing” by Rod Stewart

Song Year: 1975

The lyrics to this song are simple and repetitive but offer hope from the perspective of someone who has passed away. This person wants their loved ones to know they are no longer trapped by pain or illness.

The song tells about the deceased being free, sailing away to the next life while still being close enough to be there for those left behind.

“It’s You I Miss” by Fleetwood Mac

Song Year: 2003

Another song whose message is transparent from its title. The singer expresses their longing for a particular individual and what they miss most about them.

The yearning to catch a glimpse of the person they miss, even briefly, and witness their smile once more is a common recollection we hold onto after a loved one passes away.

“Turn! Turn! Turn!” by The Byrds

“Turn! Turn! Turn!” by The Byrds

Song Year: 1965

A song frequently used at funerals with religious themes, it has a passage lead singer Pete Seeger took from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 that tells the listener to know when to embrace life and when it’s okay to turn away.

The song also talks about how life has seasons and that living and dying are as natural as the changing of the seasons.

“Blackstar” by David Bowie

Song Year: 2016

David Bowie wrote Blackstar, knowing he was ill and didn’t have long left on this earth. He faced his own mortality and tried to make sense of what he experienced through song.

This song is deep and complex and works for those looking to add a piece to a funeral playlist, but it leaves everyone interpreting the very personal lyrics differently.

“Candle In The Wind” by Elton John

Song Year: 1973

Many listeners have interpreted this song to mean different things and be about others. Still, Elton John has stated that he wrote it and dedicated it to Marilyn Munroe, who passed away suddenly and too soon.

The song references the press coverage that happened at the time and is an excellent tribute to someone who passed away young.

“Calling All Angels” by Train

Song Year: 2003

Many people look to the heavens for help or supernatural forces to aid them in times of need. In this song, the lead singer realizes that he can’t handle his grief and problems alone and asks his guardian angels to help him get through this difficult time.

It’s a beautiful classic-sounding song that would appeal to people of many different genre preferences.

“Goodbye” by Cage the Elephant

Song Year: 2019

This sorrow-filled ballad tries to communicate the grief the band feels through the lyrics and moments of silence between piano notes. Each time the piano pauses, the strings come in and fill in the silence, highlighted by the singer’s heart-aching lyrics.

The song’s cathartic chorus allows mourners to grieve and pay their respects while also finding comfort in the fact that their loved one is at peace. It serves as a goodbye to those we lose, framed as a lullaby.

“Everglow” by Coldplay

Song Year: 2015

“Everglow” by Coldplay is a deeply emotional song that can be a fitting choice for a funeral. The song’s melancholic melody and sentimental lyrics capture the bittersweet feeling of losing a loved one.

The lyrics speak of the enduring presence of the departed in our memories and the comfort that their memory brings. “Everglow” provides a moment of solace and reflection for mourners and serves as a touching tribute to the memory of the departed.

“Hallelujah” by Bon Jovi

Song Year: 2007

“Hallelujah” by Bon Jovi is a beautiful and timeless song that has become popular for funerals. Originally written by Leonard Cohen, the song’s lyrics express a deep sense of spirituality and gratitude for the beauty of life.

Bon Jovi’s version adds an uplifting and anthemic quality to the song, creating a powerful tribute to the memory of the departed. The song’s soaring chorus of “hallelujah” can provide a moment of solace and hope for mourners, reminding them of the beauty and joy that their loved ones brought to their lives.

“Stairway To Heaven” by Led Zeppelin

Song Year: 1971

Another very popular rock funeral song, “Stairway To Heaven,” is one that many people already know and treasure because it has a spiritual feel to it without being that religious.

The song’s message of transcendence and liberation from earthly bonds can be a comfort to those grieving the loss of a loved one, providing a sense of peace and closure.

“Thinking About You” by Radiohead

Song Year: 1993

The band released two versions of this song, one is faster and more erratic, and one is slower and more thoughtful. You can choose which one to play depending on your loved one’s preference for rock.

In the song, the singer is thinking about someone who is now gone, looking through treasures like favorite records he hung on the wall and photographs that remind him of them. These items help revive old memories of better times together.

“Spirit In The Sky” by Norman Greenbaum

Song Year: 1969

This religious song implores the listener to know that the person is in a better place and that the afterlife will be a beautiful and peaceful place for them, thanks to the spirit in the sky.

The singer also says that with the right steps, like living a good life, everyone can have a place in Heaven with those who have already passed on.

“The Last Carnival” by Bruce Springsteen

Song Year: 2009

Bruce Springsteen wrote this song after losing a close friend who played alongside the singer in the E Street Band for decades. He composed this powerful and sad song in tribute to him as a way to make sense of the loss and work through his own grief.

The song’s somber yet uplifting tone offers mourners a moment of reflection and remembrance, providing a sense of closure and acceptance.

“Everything I Own” by Bread

Song Year: 1972

Originally believed to be a breakup song, the band had said that the song was about the death of the father of one of the members before the band gained success.

This ballad is powerful, fueled by the feelings that David Gates was no doubt feeling when he wrote it. No matter how many times you listen, you can feel the potency of the sound and lyrics intensely.

“Keep Me In Your Heart” by Warren Zevon

Song Year: 2003

Warren Zevon’s “Keep Me In Your Heart” is a poignant song released in 2003, written by someone who knew they were approaching the end of their life. The added layer of heartbreak is evident in the song’s lyrics.

Unlike other similar songs, the singer doesn’t ask the listener to keep them in their heart forever. Instead, they use momentary words, acknowledging that memories can be limited and fleeting for many people.

“Seasons In The Sun” by Terry Jacks

Song Year: 1961

Rod McKuen initially wrote this song, but Terry Jacks rewrote part of the lyrics to better reflect the meaning he wanted to impart.

Jacks dedicated the lyrics and the song to a close friend who was living with, and who later died of, leukemia. The song is celebratory and shows love to those who share our lives.

“There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” by the Smiths

Song Year: 1986

While the song’s meaning, as given by the band, might be about not having anywhere to call home, the music and energy of this song are comforting in a time of grief.

It returns to never forgetting a loved one, and their light or memory never leaves their friends and family even when they pass away.

“Wake Me Up When September Ends” by Green Day

Song Year: 2004

This song is a departure from the upbeat and punk rock stylings of Green Day, but it comes from a place of personal pain for the lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong as he wrote the song to remember his father, who passed away in September when the musician was ten years old.

It is a heartfelt and beautiful ballad that also has rock stylings.

“Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M.

Song Year: 1992

R.E.M. wrote this song to help people, primarily teenagers, that were depressed and felt they had no way out of their pain. The song promises that everyone experiences pain in their life and that there are ways that things can get better.

Grief can be one of those times, and knowing others experience it can help mourners get through it.

“My Immortal” by Evanescence

Song Year: 2003

This song is an intense piano power ballad that speaks of a spirit’s power over someone grieving. The singer tries and fails multiple times to move on and shake the feeling of grief.

The singer realizes that letting go is the only way to move on and doesn’t forget the spirit entirely; she places less emphasis on it.

“The Flame” by Cheap Trick

Song Year: 1988

This is a song about eternal love between two people and the fact that the flame that eternal love produces never goes out, even after death.

As a power ballad, the song is suitable for various audiences and bridges the gap between a slower and more solemn song with a more rock undertone.

“No Surprises” by Radiohead

Song Year: 1997

This song has multiple meanings, but many people believe it’s a song about coping as an adult and living through all the ups and downs. The song has a darker side but ends with a little bit of hope, even if the future isn’t full of hope.

Dealing with grief isn’t black and white, and this song demonstrates that the end may just be a little bit better, but a little is better than none.

“In My Life” by the Beatles

Song Year: 1965

Not every classic rock funeral song has to be sad. Sometimes happy songs can be good selections, especially those that spark happy memories. Happy songs can be more powerful and bring up even more happy memories in turn.

This song has become a parting memory for many people, and it’s a popular song for funerals and celebrations of life ceremonies because of its connection to happy childhoods.

“Say Hello 2 Heaven” by Temple Of The Dog

Song Year: 1991

This song was written and recorded as a tribute to a band friend who died of an overdose before Temple of the Dog was formed.

It’s one of the few songs that the lead singer Chris Cornell has written where he’s writing about real people instead of fictional characters he creates for the song. It was a song written while he was in the throes of grief directly after the funeral.

“Don’t Dream It’s Over” by Crowded House

Song Year: 1986

Later covered by artists like Ariana Grande, this song is about staying in the present even when you feel a little lost. The singer has said it’s a personal feeling, and each person will take something that’s a bit different away from it.

The song is also about taking your time to move on, making a good message to hear at a funeral where there is often pressure to stop grieving and return to life.

Best Rock Funeral Songs, Final Thoughts

Remembering those we love who have passed away and dealing with the grief can be difficult. Rock funeral songs can help work with those emotions and unite us to help us deal with them.

Any of the songs on this list could work well in a funeral playlist for a rock fan, and we hope that you have found a few pieces that speak to you and your grief. Take care.

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