Funerals for a grandparent can be tough. Everyone is sad, you have to keep thanking people for apologizing to you, and the good hors d’oeuvres always go to the attendees in wheelchairs. So why not lift the mourners’ spirits with these beautiful funeral songs—and, more importantly, with your stunning, highly trained voice?
Blackbird, The Beatles: Who needs a real funeral hymn when you have this tried-and-true tearjerker? Sure, everyone you know has sung it at every funeral you’ve ever been to, but only you can sing it a half-step up and only you thought to guilt the guy you’re casually dating into playing his lame blue guitar while you sing. Sure, the lyrics are more about singing and learning to fly than they are about dying, but the your elderly relatives don’t care, and neither would Gam-Gam, may she rest in peace.
Danny Boy, lyrics by Frederic Weatherly set to traditional Irish melody “Londonderry Air”: Perfect for the funeral of an Irishman or a Boston Celtics fan, this heart-wrenching tune will ensure that your ululating voice carries funeral-goers’ minds away from their pain and off to the rolling hills of Éire. If you can throw in a convincing Irish accent (or just a loud one), all the better. Take your cousins back to a time when Pappy was still alive, shouting at the mailman and refusing to turn on his headlights after sunset. And if the departed’s name was Daniel? Well, that’s what’s known in funeral lingo as a “home fucking run.” Double hugs for you today. You sounded amazing up there.
One Sweet Day, Mariah Carey/Boyz II Men: Earn your finger sandwiches with this showstopper of a funeral dirge. One Sweet Day will have mourners on their feet by the time you hit those last Mariah runs (there’s a reason it stayed at the top of the charts for 16 weeks!). The elaborate vocals and emotional chorus will carry your family’s grief right up to heaven for all your dead ancestors to hear, and boy will your dead ancestors love this mid-‘90s hit. If you happen to know four excellent male crooners, ask them to sing the Boyz II Men parts (from their seats, so as not to upstage you).
And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going, Dreamgirls (2006): If you’re willing to take Nana’s funeral to the next level, try this powerful torch song recently re-popularized by Jennifer Hudson. The themes are vaguely there— vying for someone’s attention and appreciation, fighting against losing them—it doesn’t really matter, though. They won’t be paying attention to the lyrics, because they’ll be so stunned by your belting ability. After all, who cares what the tears are really for, as long as the funeral attendees are shedding them? Don’t be surprised if this one gets you a standing ovation—and that’s what we’re all here for, right?
Grandparent funerals should be a celebration of life. Specifically your life, and the joy it brings to those around you. So why choose some unimpressive hymn with an 8-note range? Your gorgeous voice was a gift from heaven, where Pop-Pop is now. Who knows what talent agents might be in the audience?