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Jane Talking

At Beckford’s we are often asked by bereaved families for recommendations for songs to play at funerals. This is an important part of the funeral with a song conveying the words and portraying the sounds that the service may otherwise be unable to express certainly not in the same way.  Music evokes memories and a way of remembrance that may initially stir an important memory of a loved one. Whilst music might create a tear, it often brings a smile to the listener who recalls the memory of the departed at a previous joyful time.

To religious believers, music can also convey the promise of a future where pain or loss is forgotten, and family and friends are once again reunited.

Music is usually played before a funeral service or a Celebration of a Life, during and at the end as attendees leave, so it can leave a lasting impression and seek to reflect some of the character of the deceased.

The deceased will probably have had a favourite song, or the family may have a song that reminds them of their loved one. Many people who pre plan their funeral include the music they want played at their service. This helps the family with the difficult decision making when planning a funeral, particularly when not expected, which can be stressful.

Popular choices are Frank Sinatra’s My Way, Robbie Williams  Angels, Andrea Bocelli and a Time to Say Goodbye, Elton John’s Your Song, Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks I Miss You,  Linda Ronstadt’s Goodbye My Friend, Celine Dion My Heart will go on Bon Jovi’s version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, to top bands like Queen, Oasis. Led Zeppelin Stairway to Heaven and Westlife You Raise Me Up all are popular choices at funerals.  Also, who cannot be moved by Israel Kamakaiwo’s Over the Rainbow?

At Beckford’s we’ve heard many different songs including those associated with soccer teams such as You’ll never walk alone by Gerry and the Pacemakers which is popular with Liverpool fans, whereas the Z cars theme tune is more famous across the Liverpool divide at Everton.  Some songs reflect interests such as a popular television show like Only Fools and Horses or Bring me Sunshine by Morecambe and Wise. This often puts a smile on the faces of the attendees, especially when played at the end of a service as family and friends leave. Some songs will create sadness such as Clapton’s Tears in Heaven while others such as Steve Harleys Make me Smile certainly does do what it says on the tin.  Beckford’s was privileged to assist with the funeral of a former Spitfire pilot who requested that Vera Lyn’s We’ll Meet Again was played. Obviously, it was an important part of this man’s brave life. 

Tina Turner’s Simply the Best or Josh Grogan’s You Raise me Up reflects the importance of that lost love to those left behind and are popular choices.  Songs often played when someone’s life is tragically cut short include Art Garfunkel’s Bright Eyes or Circle of Life from the Lion King or John Lennon’s Beautiful Boy.


Personal favourites of mine are from Les Miserables – particularly Colm Wilkinson’s Bring Him Home and who cannot be moved by the words of Michael Ball’s Empty Chairs at Empty Tables which was a popular choice when the Aids epidemic was at its worst.  It starts with the immortal words

There's a grief that can't be spoken.
There's a pain goes on and on.
Empty chairs at empty tables……..

Some of our favourite religious songs are Amazing Grace, How Great though Art,  Where-ever he leads I will go, When the Roll is called up yonder, Nearer my God to Thee and The Lord is My Shepherd. Andrea Bocelli’s The Prayer or Ave Maria are wonderful songs.

Rock numbers sometimes  have their place at funerals – think U2’s Beautiful Day, Lynyd Skinner’s Freebird, Nirvana’s Man Who sold the World and Queen’s You’re my Best Friend.

However, it’s not just the music it’s the words that impart so much depth of feeling. Take Purple Rain by Prince. This was a personal friend’s favourite and played at his funeral.

I never meant to cause you any sorrow
I never meant to cause you any pain
I only wanted one time to see you laughing
I only want to see you laughing in the purple rain

Music will continue to be important at someone’s departing as it may have been in their life. It will pull at the heart strings but it will also create that smile when listening; at a life well lived and a person once again remembered.

Beckford’s posts will  occasionally feature music which creates either one or both above emotions and we hope that you will enjoy them.