10 FUN & APPROPRIATELY INAPPROPRIATE FUNERAL SONGS
I was acting as a background extra for a quirky Australian television series that is soon to be aired. In one scene we were to act as a congregation of mourners in a quaint little chapel which was hosting a funeral for the small town’s local publican. To get some idea of the off-kilter vibe, the celebrant was a conman posing as a pastor. As we found our positions on the pews the actor playing the church’s organist sat down at an old Wurlitzer organ and took a breath. We weren’t briefed as to what would happen next as the director wanting to capture our true reactions. The “organist” cracked his knuckles, cleared his throat, and then slammed his fingers down on the organ’s keys to create a cacophony of loud, dissonate notes. “Oh, excuse me! I’ll try again.” He then proceeded to play the 80s instrumental hit, ‘Axel F’ with one finger. We all assumed that we were not supposed to laugh out loud and we assumed right. Our strange looks and stifled chuckles were exactly what the director was hoping for.
Funerals have a sombre tone for a reason. We are mourning the loss of someone who we hold dear and who we will miss deeply. Something else that we are doing however, is celebrating their life. It can be a real bag of mixed emotions. It is healthy to allow tears of sadness to wash over your face. With that said, I was thinking about popular funeral music, and it rolled into wondering what the best “fun” songs might be to play or perform at a service. I guess the appropriateness depends on the person you are celebrating but as a challenging exercise, I thought I’d hunt down and list ’10 Fun, Appropriately Inappropriate Songs for Funerals’. These are in no particular order.
Highway to Hell, AC/DC
Any fan of the gracefully aging Rockers will get that they often inject their mischievous sense of humour into their music. Why not bring that mischievous humour into the most solemn of ceremonies?
Zombie, The Cranberries
Was the dearly departed a fan of George A. Romero? Or ‘The Walking Dead’? There have been zombie-themed weddings. Why not zombie themed funerals? Okay don’t answer that; I know “why not” but still, for the right person this inappropriate song could be a perfect farewell tune.
See Ya Later Alligator, Bill Haley & the Comets
I can imagine this one being played as the pallbearers exit with the coffin. Or when the body is being lowered into the ground.
I’m Still Standing, Elton John
For an ironic “wink”.
Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die, Willie Nelson
Can you imagine the funeral celebrant standing at the pulpit and announcing, “We will now join together by singing the song ‘Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die’. You’ll find the words in your program.”
Another One Bites the Dust, Queen
It would be very rare to hear this song played at a funeral ceremony and ironically, it’s used sometimes in CPR training to find the perfect 110 beats per minute. It’s the rarity that would make this extra special for the dearly departed who love a bit of dark humour.
Not Crying, Flight of the Conchords
The deadpan, subversive comedy stylings of this duo is never more appreciated than in this attempt at stoic denial. “I’m not crying!” They spend the song coming up with excuses as to why their faces are wet.
Don’t Fear the Reaper, Blue Oyster Cult
This 1976 hit slaps the fear of death in the face. The reaper doesn’t need to be seen as “grim”. Maybe we could call him the “Friendly Reaper”, or the “The Tour Guide Reaper”.
Time of Your Life (Good Riddance), Green Day
It’s probably the title more than anything that gives this an inappropriate feel but to be fair it’s a great song for sending someone off. For a few years, at it’s peak, it was the go to for High School and Uni graduations. “It’s something unpredictable but in the end, it’s right. I hope you had the time of your life.”
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, Eric Idle & Monty Python
The irreverent humour of the Python troupe was no more evident than when this song was sung by ‘The Life of Brian’ characters as they faced life’s final curtain. On the off chance that someone reading this hasn’t seen the film, that’s all I’ll say as it’s one of cinemas classic comedy moments that I won’t spoil. This song by the way is one of the most requested for UK funerals.
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About the Author
Nate Hamon is an AIWA certified copywriter with a deep well of world experience and education. He loves Op shopping and lemon meringue pie.