Rock and Roll Music for FuneralsWhat music do I want to be remembered by? I think that’s a fair question and it was the topic at the funeral for our dear friend Mike last weekend.

Losing Mike was devastating to all of us who knew and loved him. He died way too young (63 years of age) and way too suddenly (from an infection that his body could not fight).

It was fitting that at a weekend gathering, college friends and close friends flew in from around the country to process his death together. His dearest friends and wife designed a service for him that left its mark on all who were privileged to be present. Reminiscent of The Big Chill, his life was celebrated in story and song, laughter, love and tears. This link may jog your memory of how prescient that film was.

The music at Mike’s memorial service was profound and central to keeping him present. It was the music that pulled at all of our heartstrings and set the stage for the wonderful goodbyes that were said. It was the music that brought everyone in the room together and more importantly, it was HIS music that brought Mike deeply into our hearts.

The service sparked a dialogue with my husband about music we wanted to be remembered by. Surprisingly, it was not the slightest bit morbid to talk about this–it was actually an uplifting conversation. My Bill has a great sense of humor and immediately put in a request for Richie Valens singing “La Bamba.”  He envisioned everyone celebrating, dancing and smiling. He can’t stand to make anyone sad. By the way, he doesn’t even speak Spanish–go figure–glad I asked him.

Who thought planning your own funeral could put a smile on your face? When I started asking friends about music they’d like to be remembered by I got an earful, so I thought I’d pass along some of their requests. By the way, please comment at the end of this piece and let us know your top requests.

Here are some personal favorites:

1. My friend Holli likes what Elton John sang to Princess Diana: “Candle in the Wind.”

2. My Yoga teacher recommended “Across the Universe” by The Beatles. She loves the lyric, “Nothing’s gonna change my world.” And the song also includes a sanskrit chant that means “remover of darkness.”

3. Here’s a song from those who aren’t ready to say goodbye– “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” by The Temptations. “I want to keep you anyway I can–refuse to let you go”

4. A really tearful, beautiful and moving piece that’s a personal favorite of mine: “Ain’t No Sunshine,” by Bill Withers (he’s just the best).

5. At Mike’s funeral the lyrics from another totally uplifting and moving Bill Withers piece were read by his best friend. Love the message, “I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on.” Check out — “Lean On Me.”

6. Human rights activist Peter Gabriel wrote this song after September 11th. His music was written for those who lost loved ones–he wanted to give people music to help them grieve. “I Grieve” Love this lyric: “nothing yet has really sunk in.”

7. Another song of Peter Gabriel’s with lyrics that give us courage and keep us going: “Don’t Give Up.”


8. My sister loves sweet Joni Mitchell’s “River.” You know the lyrics – “I wish I had a river I could skate away on.”


9. At Mike’s funeral the service opened with the Grateful Dead’s “Brokedown Palace.” The room was stilled by these amazing lyrics, “Fare you well, fare you well, I love you more than words can tell.” Oh, it was magical!

10. And of course let’s not forget Leonard Cohen’s, “Hallelujah.” So many great artists sing this spectacular song, but I personally love Cohen’s own version. This song has the power to wrap a room in love and memory and move us all to tears. Check out this YouTube video–guaranteed to make your spirits fly.

We also found this great list:

“Most downloaded Funeral Songs”


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