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Songs You Shouldn't Play at a Funeral

Theophanes is a New-England-based blogger, traveler, writer, photographer, sculptor, and lover of cats.


I have heard that it is becoming popular in Japan to have themed funerals. You can have music, live performers, paid mourners weeping like no person actually weeps, and even a laser show and fireworks. What a grand finale for the karaoke nut in all of us... but what about in the US where funerals are often somber occasions devoid of such razzle dazzle? Well, funerals don't have to be completely dull... some of us might like having the last laugh, making sure our loved ones play the most inappropriate music ever as people file in to pay their respects. So what songs are deemed woefully inappropriate? Here's a starter list!

Only the Good Die Young

Only the good die young is a nice motto and all but what if you died when you were old? Would this imply you weren't good? And besides isn't a song about a repressed Catholic schoolgirl a bit cliché? I mean unless you were a repressed Catholic school girl who wants to let her final message to the world be, "It wasn't worth it! Sin while you're still alive!" Then by all means we will take your blasphemy to heart. Of course this would be doubly hilarious if your name just happens to be Virginia.

Live and Let Die

We know you've been a HUGE Wings fan since... well since you realized Paul McCartney was in it. We also know you just about died going to that first concert you were just sooo happy to be there. It was amazing, we get it, but don't try to take that memory with you. Live and Let Die is an awkward note to leave off on. I mean what are you trying to say here? That we should all be happy you finally died...? It's a muddled message at best.


The Squirrel Nut Zipper's Hell saw fifteen minutes of fame and melted the hearts of everyone who thought it's title was In the Afterlife. This is because that's just about the only words anyone bothered to listen to, the first three. If they continued on they'd realize there's an adorable chorus that spells out damnation like a happy cheerleader and some really grotesque threats sung in a cheerful Big Band sort of way. This song sounds adorable if you don't listen to the lyrics. It might even slip by the attention of most of your mourners. Only the deeply sarcastic will realize you're in Hell where all the interesting people are. Of course if your desire is to attract attention to these perverse lyrics just play the music video that goes with it which is drawn as an utterly bizarre 1920s styled dance macabre.

How to Save a Life

I have no idea how this song ended up being the background music for every medical drama on the TV. It's not about some scrappy young surgeon standing over a bleeding eight year old, scalpel in hand. Actually... if you really listen it's about dropping the ball and not realizing your now dead friend was suicidal. Some might consider this an omission of guilt when played at a funeral. Sort of like, "Whoops, I saw your car explode but I figured you'd get out just fine by yourself!"

Dumb Ways to Die

Was your dearly departed a winner of the Darwin Award? Did they cut themselves out of the gene pool via a stupid act? Then this might be the song for them... Just note it it may be considered crass if your loved one actually died from an accident on the Metro as technically this entire song is a commercial for train safety. That's not to say it's not adorable, intensely catchy, and who hasn't used their private parts for piranha bait?

We Will All Go Together When We Go

Who wouldn't love to hear Tom Lehrer just one last time? His scathing sarcasm is just sooo... refreshing. And yet some of his songs might not be the best choice to say goodbye. We Will All Go Together When We Go might be mistranslated as some sort of beyond-the-grave threat to the living and there are a few PC issues as well. For instance "every hottenhot and Eskimo" might be offensive to any of the native peoples of Canada... and you really don't want to piss off a Canadian. Who knows what they'll do. And when they're done ransacking the funeral home the hottenhots will figure out who they are and that they've just been called a likely offensive word too. (Seriously though - what IS a hottenhot?!)

Seasons in the Sun

Seasons in the Sun is one of those creepy songs that follow people around like a severely retarded puppy. It's cute at first but after a while you just want the image of it to unburn itself from your head. It's another one of those cheerfully tuned suicide songs. It's sort of like saying, "Bye people! I love you all so much but I loved the idea of death so much better! Have a nice life suckers!"

I'm Going to Live Forever

Yeah.... you keep saying that dear, as we pop you into the ground. Poor sorry sod.

Another One Bites the Dust

This song is probably too crass for most funerals. We live in a society of fluffy euphemisms, where people don't die, they "pass away." Sometimes euphemisms can be harsher than the actual word they're covering. This might be one of those cases.

Waiting for the Worms

This one has the same problem as the song above it. We don't really want to envision you letting earth worms use your eye sockets as an obstacle course. It's gross and disturbing and that anguished scream at the end is NOT comforting. Why did you even put this one on your list?!

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead

Which old witch? The wicked witch! Ding dong the witch is dead!!

If this plays at your funeral expect a really terrible epitaph and few mourners.

Don't Fear the Reaper

Did you know that Houdini told his wife that if he died before her he'd try to contact her from the great beyond? This song might play if he had actually managed such a stunt. It sort of brings to mind a big black cloaked figure striking whole cities with plague and a dead guy in the background moaning, "Don't fear the reaper, he's just doing his job!"

Highway to Hell

This might actually be appropriate for any man who refused to pull over and ask for directions during his life. He'll have no idea he's heading south and not north until everything starts smelling oddly of brimstone. Oops.

Used to Love Her

"I used to love her - but I had to kill her." Obviously someone has taken that "honesty is the best policy" phrase a little too much to heart. This one is perfect for crimes of passion and honor killings.

People Who Died

This song is great for anyone who is so sarcastic that they can't even hold their tongue after death. Besides the wonderful title the lyrics drag you deeper and deeper into depravity describing interesting ways teenagers can die. What else could you possibly ask for?

The Ballad of Alfred Packer

This little known classic is possibly the greatest song ever written about cannibalism. If you'd rather be eaten then buried then this is likely the best song you could ask for. It has some great advice for the living - it just doesn't pay to eat anything but government inspected beef.

Zombie Love Song

I wanted this last song to be something really obscure I found that had references to sucking out people's eyeballs because you love them... but alas, I couldn't find it and had to make do with a random YouTube search for Zombie Love Song. I think it's a good one to go out on....


Chazz on July 16, 2019:

How 'bout "I Don't Live Today" by Jimi Hendrix?

Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on April 30, 2018:

I couldn't agree more Jean! Celebrating life and having the confidence not to care what others think are both very important! Glad you enjoyed my tongue-in-cheek little article enough to comment and my condolences for your husband. I hope he appreciated the send off.

Jean Bakula from New Jersey on April 30, 2018:

My husband had a favorite CD of his favorite songs, mostly progressive rock of the 70s. I played that and others like it at his service. While some thought it strange, it was a celebration of his life and what he wanted, so I don't really care what they thought.

Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on September 18, 2016:

Thank you for commenting Brad. I am not sure if you missed the fact this article was supposed to be funny... but I agree funerals SHOULD reflect the personality of the deceased, and I would be delighted to hear many of these at mine, however I am pretty sure the attendees might be a little upset at these choices. It's a question of social morays.

Brad Chapman on September 01, 2016:

Frankly, the only time any song played at a funeral should be considered inappropriate is if it somehow would be an insult to the deceased or not fitting of the deceased's personality. Funerals may be for living, but are only truly appropriate when/if they are properly representing and honoring the deceased, and anything added or excluded only due to worrying about the thoughts or feelings of the funeral attendees and not due to considerations of whether or not it honors the deceased is disrespectful to the deceased and anyone that truly cared about him or her (even if you can't ask someone what they want for their funeral by that point, and even if they never discussed it while alive, the person or people that knew them the best should know them well enough to know what they'd want and not want, and ultimately should be the ones planning it or asked for input by whomever is if the ultimate intent is to honor the dead and provide them with a send off that is truly fitting for them).

That said, there area at least 4 songs on that list that, if I died right now, I'd be happy if I knew got played at my funeral. But sadly, as my parents are currently my next of kin and would be the ones to plan a funeral for me right now, I doubt they or any other "inappropriate" song would get played even if they knew I'd want it, because most if not all of them would really upset most of my family (especially any that mention or are directly about hell considering most of them are religious, and even the ones that don't know or aren't certain I'm an atheist certainly have little reason to believe I've met the qualification to go to Christianity's Heaven).

Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on May 08, 2013:

Yes, yes I am! You're welcome. I am always happy to make you laugh. :)

Kathi Mirto from Fennville on May 08, 2013:

OMG, are you kidding me? Lol . . . thanks for the giggle, Hugs, Kathi

Cat from New York on May 03, 2013:

Yeah... that's kinda what I was thinking! :-)

Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on May 03, 2013:

You got an e-mail about scary bunnies? Well that's new! haha

Cat from New York on May 02, 2013:


Dangit! That's right, I briefly saw it fly by in my email today and was eager to get over to it... course life and ADHD-like behavior got in my way. I'm opening the tab right now! Scary Bunnies... ha!

Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on May 02, 2013:

Cantuhearmescream - maybe but it had to take a backseat to Scary Bunnies, which fit my mood today. (And Gosh have I been in an odd mood lately!)

Mazzy Bolero: That's a shame, I love In the Mood! Though that is weird for a funeral... and I can certainly appreciate the humor in it!

Mazzy Bolero from the U.K. on May 02, 2013:

Great fun, Theophanes. It's good to make people smile at your funeral and remember the good times. Apparently at the funeral of Peter Sellers he had left instructions for a particular song to be played. His friends found it hard to keep a straight face as the strains of "In the Mood" filled the room. They knew that Peter absolutely hated that song.

Cat from New York on May 01, 2013:


Gee, I'm eating dinner with the wrong people! :-)

Ooh, Worst Advice Ever Given in a Song... that's a hub right there! Yes, I'm against swimming after a meal, but drinking should always be done before a good swim!

Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on May 01, 2013:

Cantuhearmescream - This is but one of the perverse games I like to play with music and friends. Since I have such an eclectic bunch of music lovers around me we can sometimes come up with some pretty funny things. Another great one is Worst Advice Ever Given in a Song. I voted for Mungo Jerry's In the Summertime for the line, "Take a drink, take a drive, go see what we can find." Ahhh, simpler times...

vandynegl: Oh, I'm sure you can come up with some good ones... trick is finding someone as warped as you to play it. ;) I so want Hell played at my funeral. I couldn't think of a more adorable good-bye.

Thanks for commenting guys! And gals!

vandynegl from Ohio Valley on May 01, 2013:

This definitely got me thinking! I'm going to have to get some good theme music for my funeral (which I hope won't be for a LOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG time). I like Another One Bites the can dance to it!

Cat from New York on May 01, 2013:


She's at it again! I thought this was too funny, I can't even choose which is my favorite. Hey, there probably are a few people that I could see playing these songs for :-)

Actually quite a few good songs here! Only you would think of this!

Up and Awesome!

Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on May 01, 2013:

I have actually never heard of People Who Died. I will have to check it out now! Thanks for the idea!

Thank you Mhatter99 - I was in an odd mood last night. :)

Martin Kloess from San Francisco on May 01, 2013:

With a tittle like this how can one resist. Very entertaining.

Susan Lawens from Williamston, MI on May 01, 2013:

Very enjoyable, had me chuckling out loud (not lol, though, but close, but it is late as I'm typing this.) A thought, I would think "Don't Fear the Reaper" would not be inappropriate, as it sounds quite comforting, although it would be pretty ballsy to play at a funeral. Note to self, I might have to put that in my will to play that at my funeral. I would add the song "People Who Died" by The Jim Carroll Band.