Honoring your departed loved ones though music is a tradition that goes way back. Before the invention of modern technology, people played hand-made instruments and sang as part of the funeral ritual. This was seen in Ancient Greek culture, where women sang funeral songs; in Irish ballads and hymns; and famously in New Orleans, where jazz musicians and marching bands play songs to accompany the procession from the funeral home to the cemetery.
Today, one of the most popular genres to play at a funeral or memorial service, or even in tribute videos, is country music. Country music developed from British Isles folk music. This is because many of the people who settled in the American South, particularly Tennessee, where country music was born, came from rural England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The genre later incorporated African American genres like Blues and Gospel. Today, it is common to hear country music that incorporates pop and, occasionally, even hip-hop.
Country songs are suitable for funerals because the genre is known for its simplistic but catchy lyricism and mellow melodies. Country songwriters are also very good at articulating certain emotions, especially when it comes to love, heartbreak, longing and relations with family. So, we’ve curated a list of 20 country funeral songs for your loved one.
1. I Will Always Love You by Dolly Parton
Although it’s known throughout the world for its remake by the late, great Whitney Houston, Dolly Parton sang the original, and this rendition seems more appropriate for your loved one’s funeral or memorial service. It’s more mellow and subtle. This is a great way to send your loved one your message of unconditional love and adoration, whether in this life or in the next.
2. How Do I Live by LeAnn Rimes
This is LeAnn’s biggest hit. The commercial success and critical acclaim it received is well-earned even if it sounds a little dated to some people nowadays. Having said that, it’s a classic and its message is a universal one that will transcend time, just like your love for the person you've lost.
3. Angels Among Us by Alabama
This is a good old spiritual song that is fitting to play for your loved one’s funeral or memorial. It exudes positivity even for those who aren't religious. It will also make for a good soundtrack in memorial or tribute videos.
4. Don't Blink by Kenny Chesney
This is a great tune by one of the genre’s biggest superstars. It encapsulates all the feelings we have about the flow of time and the changes we go through in life. The biggest changes tend to be the death of loved ones, and this song brilliantly reminds us of the transient nature of our existence.
5. Go Rest High On That Mountain by Vince Gill
Vince Gill is one of the most talented songwriters in the music industry. He is great at combining country, folk and Gospel. This Christian-themed song is uplifting and will bring light to your moments of darkness.
6. I Hope You Dance by Lee Ann Womack
This is an all-time hit that is used in many funeral services and memorial videos. It's a triumphant song even if there’s an underlying sense of mourning the passing time. Dancing in this case is both literal and a metaphor for living your life, which makes it a great song choice for your family or friends who are experiencing grief.
7. One More Day by Diamond Rio
This is an appropriate song for funeral services and memorials. It articulates well the wishes we have when our loved ones die.
8. The Dance by Garth Brooks
This is another song that has a dancing metaphor, and this time it’s from country legend Garth Brooks. Dancing symbolizes life, happiness, and good energy even if the dance is one that’s nostalgic, like dancing with your parents on your wedding day, or when you were a kid.
9. When I Get Where I'm Going by Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton
The superstar and legend team up for a great collaborative song in When I Get Where I'm Going. Time and distance are two subjects, usually intertwined, that are common in country music songwriting. It’s a universal metaphor for talking about departures and going back to our roots, so this is a good song to play at your loved one’s funeral.
10. Believe by Brooks & Dunn
This is another spiritual and positive song that is appropriate for funeral services and memorials. It’s also something you can use as a soundtrack for memorial and tribute videos.
11. The Hand That Rocks the Cradle by Glenn Campbell
A terrific song to dedicate to your beloved mother. Show your love for her even as she lies at rest. Her spirit will surely be touched by your gesture.
12. Just a Closer Walk With Thee by Patsy Cline
This is a brilliant song about our proximity to our loved ones. When they depart, we want them to take a closer walk with us one last time.
13. Broken Halos by Chris Stapleton
While the title might seem negative in terms of imagery, this song is actually quite positive and articulates a deep understanding of spirituality. It’s a good song to play at your loved one’s funeral or memorial service.
14. He Didn't Have to Be by Brad Paisley
Stepfathers deserve their roses and honor. This one by the country superstar perfectly articulates the sacrifices our stepfathers (or stepmothers) make for us despite not sharing the same blood. It reminds us that fatherhood is not about simply giving you life, but is more about providing you with a life, as in raising, guiding and loving you.
15. Go On Without Me by Brett Eldredge
As the title implies, this is a song that is perfect for funerals and memorial services. Interestingly, it can be a message for your departed loved one, or you can see it from the perspective of your dearly departed telling you to go on without them. Either way, it’s a great message about learning to let go and heal your heart.
16. If Heaven Wasn't So Far Away by Justin Moore
This is another good spiritual country song that is not too religious. It’s poetic and has a nice melody. Play it at your loved one’s funeral or use it for a tribute video at a memorial service.
17. You Should Be Here by Cole Swindell
This song perfectly articulates what we wish and what we hope for when we are trying to grasp a loved one’s sudden passing. We want our loved ones to be here forever, but we know that we have come to terms with reality.
18. Butterfly Kisses by Bob Carlisle
This song is quite well known, and was even more so when it came out. While the lyrics are not exactly about death, but are more about nostalgia and children, it’s something you can play for a loved one’s funeral or memorial service while showing a picture slide of their childhood photos.
19. How Can I Help You to Say Goodbye by Patty Loveless
This is a song that you can play at a funeral service, or send to a friend or family member who is mourning. The lyrics communicate a deep desire to soothe the pain of those who have lost a loved one.
20. Daddy's Hands by Holly Dunn
This is the ideal song to play at your father’s funeral. It perfectly captures nostalgic memories of your father and the essence of fatherhood in general. They were always there to hold your hands, to guide you, discipline you, feed you, and to build a home for you, whether figuratively or even literally. And now it’s time to honour them.