The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

The Funeral Playlist

This might be a little morbid, but since we started the day with a playlist and it’s Halloween it seems appropriate. Besides, I’ve been wanting to do a post like this since I saw this prestigefuneralplans article about the most popular songs at funerals.

[James] Blunt’s song [“Goodbye, My Lover] was closely followed by pop singer Robbie Williams’s song Angels, according to a survey released Monday by the Bereavement Register, a group that works to remove the names of the deceased from direct mailing databases.

The group said that 51 per cent of people have considered a specific song to be included by their funeral plan guide. Also, 79 per cent have discussed the choice of song with family or friends.

The poll surveyed 5,000 people and, rather than unearthing a slate of dirges or elegies, turned up a list of mostly contemporary picks. …

The top 10 most requested songs were:

1. Goodbye My Lover, James Blunt.

2. Angels, Robbie Williams

3. I’ve Had the Time of My Life, Jennifer Warnes and Bill Medley

4. Wind Beneath My Wings, Bette Midler

5. Pie Jesu, Requiem

6. Candle in the Wind, Elton John

7. With or Without You, U2

8. Tears from Heaven, Eric Clapton

9. Every Breath You Take, The Police

10. Unchained Melody, Righteous Brothers

Frequently covered favourites, including the traditional song Danny Boy and Bob Dylan’s Knocking on Heaven’s Door, were among the top 20.

Believe it or not, it’s actually something I’ve thought about, particularly this year. My only requirement is that they not be religious in nature (no hymns, etc.) and that I have some connection to the song emotionally or lyrically. I’m not sure I could come up with a list of 10, but these are the ones that immediately come to mind.

  1. Over The Rainbow from the album “Songbird” by Eva Cassidy or Somewhere Over the Rainbow from the album “Alone in IZ World” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole or Over the Rainbow by Patti LaBelle
  2. Imagine from the album “John Lenon The Collection” by John Lenon
  3. In My Life from the album “1962-1966 (Red Album)” by The Beatles
  4. It’s Not Easy Being Green by Ray Charles
  5. First Day of My Life from the album “I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning” by Bright Eyes
  6. Bridge Over Troubled Water from the album “The Very Best of Aretha Franklin” by Aretha Franklin
  7. Everything Must Change from the album “May the Music Never End” by Shirley Horn
  8. I Be Your Water from the album “In This Land” by Sweet Honey In The Rock
  9. I Will Remember You from the album “Mirrorball” by Sarah McLachlan
  10. We’ll Be Together Again from the album “The Complete Billie Holiday On Verve 1945-1959 (Disc 7)” by Billie Holiday

Actually, I did come up with 10. I’m not sure this is the same ten I’d choose if you asked me a year from now, but most of them would probably make the list. I couldn’t decide on one version for the first song, but it has to be on the list because I’ve had a connection with it for most of my life. When I was in the second grade, my school did a reinterpreted version of The Wizard of Oz. I wanted to be in the show, and told my teacher I could sing the song. Then I sang it in class. Some of my classmates laughed, but I got the part. (They renamed the character “Danny” instead of Dorothy.) In one way or another, that song’s been with me since. Actually, I’d probably pick two versions of the song, to bookend the whole list.

“Imagine” has to be on the list. To me it describes an ideal, if unattainable, world; one worth reaching for.

The Billie Holiday song has to be last. Just because I like it as a parting message.

The rest? Well, there are reasons for those to.


  1. I was going to give a serious response. Then I saw #3 on the “Most Popular” list. That would be the one from “Dirty Dancing,” right??? Because I can’t hear that song in my head without picturing the whole Swayze-picks-her-up-during-the-dance-finale scene. Except, now I see it redone with pallbearers. And that’s JUST SO WRONG.

    Your list, though, is lovely, and includes several I would consider for myself.

  2. I’ve actually thought of this, too, and told my wife that I want “I Will Survive” played at my funeral. Not only for the irony, but because I absolutely LOVE that song and have a choreographed lip sync routine that I do when it comes on that slays everyone. And if there’s been a mistake and I’m not actually dead, that is one song guaranteed to wake me the heck up and get me moving again.

  3. “Wharf Rat” off of the Skull and Roses album by the Grateful Dead. In honor of my sobriety. 19 years today.