With its themes of love, loss, simplicity, and more, country music is a genre with many great songs that are fitting for funerals or celebrations of life. If you’re looking for the perfect country song to honor a friend or loved one at a funeral, look no further.
I’ve combed through the country music genre and compiled all the best country songs for funerals right here. There are a number of different artist from different eras of country music (ranging from old to modern) so there’s something for everyone.
Here are the 15 best country songs for funerals or celebrations of life:
Live Like You Were Dying – Tim McGraw
American country music artist Tim McGraw understood the feeling of not having enough time since he wrote this single with the duo Tim Nichols and Craig Wiseman for the family and friends who found out they had cancer.
Due to this, they had a newfound love for life, knowing they had limited time to live. This song is about living your life to the fullest and inspiring people to be better humans before eventually passing away.
Chiseled In Stone – Vern Gosdin
This was a song co-written with American country music artist Vern Gosdin. This was the third single and title track from Vern Gosdin’s album. The song features an ability to evoke an emotional feeling within you.
You can feel the joy and sorrow this song envokes, mainly because the iconic chorus is based on the true story of Max D. Barnes and how his family lost their 18-year-old son and brother in a tragic accident.
What on Earth Will You Do (For Heaven’s Sake) – Johnny Cash
In our opinion, this was the song that made Johnny Cash truly stand out from the others. He really understood the concept behind what he was singing. The lyrics in this song question how you lived your life when you were alive.
Did you do good deeds throughout your journey? Was your life worth living? He shines a light on what we overlook in life and avoid doing and how we could greatly regret our decision not to care later on.
He Stopped Loving Her Today – George Jones
This song was the lead single for George’s album ‘I am what I am. The song hit hard with the most of the audience because it centered around a man whose love goes away. He sings beautifully about how his love for a woman never dies until he dies, and that is when he stops loving her.
After years of having trouble with addiction and law problems, he made an epic comeback with this hit track. After he passed away, Alan Jackson sang this song at his funeral.
I’ll Fly Away – Alan Jackson
This song has a touch of tradition in it. It is a hymn written in 1929 by Albert E. Brumley, and it is famously known as the most recorded gospel song because of its uplifting lyrics and meaning.
The song is already used in various worship services, and it is also performed at many funerals. This song is perfect for a funeral because Johnny’s comforting voice in this traditional church song can really reassure you on such a difficult day.
Will The Circle Be Unbroken – Johnny Cash
Here is a masterpiece of a hymn written by Ada R. Habershon in 1907. The song is considered to be an anthem of perseverance and hope. It talks about life and music and how both things remain unbroken even after death.
It connects the previous generations of country musicians and fans, linking them to one hymn. The song is perfect for playing during funerals as it tells the story of how life and harmony come together.
Won’t it be Wonderful There? – George Jones / Ricky Skaggs
This song was mainly known for how the words were carried together in one song and affected the audience. A message is embedded into the song, claiming the heavens will be better than life on earth.
There are excellent versions by both Ricky Skaggs and George Jones.
The lyrics in the song are written about how wonderful it would be after one dies, how the life above with Jesus Christ would be much more worth living for, rather than the one of pain and hurt in this world.
Go Rest High on that Mountain – Vince Gill
The sixth single from his album, ‘When Love Finds You,’ Gill wrote this sweet but sad song following the death of country music superstar Keith Whitley.
He continued writing the song after his brother passed away. The theme delivers a lot of emotions as it was written by a person who genuinely lost a loved one, and he even sang this song with Patty Loveless during the funeral of country music artist George Jones.
The deep meaning behind his words became more apparent as the emotions took over him during that funeral.
Swing Low Sweet Chariot – Josh Turner
Josh Turner puts a beautiful spin on this traditional song recorded in 1909 by the Fisk Jubilee Singers of Fisk University. The song is a traditional African- American hymn that dates back a long time ago.
The song was played relentlessly after the horrendous death of Wallace Willis. However, Josh described it as a song that gives you hope of finding peace by riding a chariot to heaven or end.
The song ideally dictates how there is freedom lying ahead of that journey. It also rebukes the concept that only black people are meant to sing it.
Country Roads Take Me Home – Josh Denver
This is a song known to many of us because of its never-ending popularity. It peaked on Billboard’s U.S. Hot 100 Singles chart during its release. This song has never been forgotten because of how much emotion is invoked.
Country Roads is a song that two D.C. area musicians wrote, and Clopper Road inspired it.
Josh Denver wrote this song as a nostalgic piece that brings him back to his childhood. Although he was born in Massachusetts, his hometown had no comparison to West Virginia.
If Tomorrow Never Comes – Garth Brooks
Written by Garth and Kent Blazy, this song interprets that if the next day you anticipate never comes for you, what would the people left think of you.
Garth Brooks wrote this song; wondering if his number was up today. Would the love of his life know how much he loved her? And this is basically what this song is about.
If you were to die today, would the people in your life know how much they meant to you? Were you vocal enough about your feelings for them to remember how you felt towards them? The lyrics make you question how you have treated your loved ones.
Tell Me I was Dreaming – Travis Tritt
Travis released this fourth and final single of his album in 1995, and this ballad was known as one of the most heartbreaking songs ever, primarily due to the music video.
The video featured an army veteran and his life as he fights for his life, leaving his pregnant wife behind. It is an authentic heart-wrenching experience as you watch the video and go in-depth into the lyrics; it gets you thinking about the decisions you make in your life when you are alive.
When the Man Comes Around – Johnny Cash
Among many of his other hit singles, this was one of them. Johnny Cash wrote this song a while before he eventually passed away, making its relevance for funerals even more understandable.
The song has been considered one of those biblical since it has many references from the Holy Bible. Many verses have been added to the lyrics to ensure the listeners know that it is based on life and death. It mostly delivers portions of the Bible that center around that aspect.
To Lay me Down – Grateful Dead
While the Dead aren’t necessarily a country band, they have very strong country influences, and you can definitely hear them in this song.
This song tugs at your heartstrings and would definitely make anyone start bawling at a funeral but in a good way. The lyrics center around an individual wanting one last chance to lay down next to the person he loves, one last chance to say goodnight, and one last chance to sweet talk with them.
The song was written in 1970 in London and has been one of the Dead’s more popular funeral song since then because of the sweet yet sad impact.
When I Get Where I’m Going – Brad Paisley & Dollar Parton
This is a song written by Rivers Rutherford and George Teren. Brad Paisley recorded it. The song clearly describes what the man will do once he dies and goes to heaven. The lyrics conclude about him doing unique things and ones that would not be possible on earth.
This song would make anyone feel happier about the person’s demise as it portrays a beautiful life after someone has passed away, depicting how it’s so much better than life on earth.