Often after people we love pass away, there are days when we can think of nothing else.
For those days, why not put on some music that reminds us of our loved ones — because sometimes songs about death are just what we’re in the mood for.
Song About Death No. 35: “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” By Bob Dylan
This emotional ballad by Bob Dylan is just another shining example of the incredible songwriter he is.
He uses the metaphor ‘knocking on heaven’s door’ to illustrate his longing to escape the violence and sadness in the world. Death would be a peaceful escape, and heaven offers much-needed rest.
Song About Death No. 34: “If I Die Young” By The Band Perry
When it comes to songs about dying young, this one is a classic.
The lyrics are written from the perspective of a child who has passed away. She asks those who have been left behind to not mourn her short life, but to celebrate the time that she did have. She also asks God to look after the ones she’s left behind.
This sad song about death has a positive message though, which is that we should make the most of our lives, no matter how short.
Song About Death No. 33: “Tears In Heaven” By Eric Clapton
This is one of the most famous and heartbreaking songs about dying young.
Clapton wrote this mournful guitar ballad about his four-year-old son Conor, who died on March 20, 1991 after he fell out of a window of an apartment on the 53rd floor in New York City.
The lyrics of this song tackle the difficult question many of us face when we miss someone. Will we really meet again?
Would you know my name. If I saw you in heaven? Would it be the same. If I saw you in heaven? I must be strong and carry on. ‘Cause I know I don’t belong here in heaven.
Song About Death No. 32: “Candle In The Wind” By Elton John
Sir Elton John first released this beautiful piano ballad in 1973 in honour of the late Marilyn Monroe who had died eleven years earlier.
He later performed a rewritten version titled “Goodbye England’s Rose” at the funeral of his friend, Princess Diana.
Song About Death No. 31: “The Last Carnival” By Bruce Springsteen
The death of bandmate and organist, Danny Federici, meant the loss of one of Springsteen’s dearest friends.
The lyrics use the metaphor of a traveling circus and the loss of one of their own. After the death of a trapeze artist, his aerial partner contemplates his friendship with a man who never let him fall.
Song About Death No. 30: “I Will Follow You Into The Dark” By Death Cab For Cutie
This “death” song is really a song about the power of love. While you and I must both eventually die, I love you so much that I will follow you wherever you go. Whether it is to heaven or hell, or somewhere in between.
Song About Death No. 29: “Fade to Black” By Metallica
This song is often viewed as being about suicide, and James Hetfield of Metallica was definitely in a dark place when he wrote it.
This song really resonates with people who have personally experienced deep depression, or who have lost a loved one to suicide.
Song About Death No. 28: “Coldest Winter” By Kanye West
Kanye West wrote this emotional song in tribute of his mother, Donda West, after her untimely death.
The song is about the pain and loneliness you feel when you say “farewell” to an important person in your life. He sings, “On lonely nights I start to fade. Her love is a thousand miles away.”
Song About Death No. 27: “In My Time Of Dying” By Led Zeppelin
This Led Zeppelin song is derived from an old gospel song. People who love and surround me “in my time of dying” should not cry or mourn my imminent departure because Jesus is waiting for me in heaven.
In my time of dying, ain’t gonna cry, ain’t gonna mourn. All I need for you to do is drag my body home. Well, well, well, so I can die easy. Jesus, gonna make up my dyin’ bed.
Song About Death No. 26: “Ocean Breathes Salty” By Modest Mouse
This song vows to carry on the memory of someone who has died:
Your body may be gone. I’m gonna carry you in my head, in my heart, in my soul.
It leaves you with the sentiment that when someone leaves you with nothing but love, then that love is enough to sustain you.
Song About Death No. 25: “Keep Me In Your Heart” By Warren Zevon
This song about dying is from Zevon’s final album, “The Wind,” which he wrote after being diagnosed with lung cancer. This touching song, “Keep Me in Your Heart,” is Zevon’s final farewell.
If I leave you, it doesn’t mean I love you any less.
Song About Death No. 24: “Let It Be” By The Beatles
This comforting piano ballad by the Beatles provides us with a reassuringly simple message: when it comes to dealing with loss, it will all be okay.
In my darkest hour, she is standing right in front of me. Speaking words of wisdom, Let it be.
Paul McCartney wrote this song during a particularly bleak period in his life. He was unhappy and stressed, and facing the imminent breakup of The Beatles.
In an interview, he revealed that his mother came to him in a dream. She had passed away when he was 14 years old, leaving a huge void in his life.
“In the dream, she said to me very gently, very reassuringly: ‘Let it be,'” said McCartney.
“It was lovely. I woke up with a great feeling. It was really like she had visited me at this very difficult point in my life and gave me this message: Be gentle, don’t fight things, just try and go with the flow and it will all work out.”
Song About Death No. 23: “Airplanes” By Local Natives
This song about death by the Indie group Local Natives speaks about the death of a grandparent and those little things that we’ll always remember and cherish about the people we love.
I bet when I leave my body for the sky. The wait, the wait will be worth it.
Song About Death No. 22: “Videotape” By Radiohead
This beautiful song tells the story of a dying man who uses a videotape to say goodbye to his loved ones.
This is my way of saying goodbye. Because I can’t do it face to face.
Song About Death No. 21: “King’s Crossing” By Elliott Smith
It’s hard to listen to this song about death by Elliott Smith without thinking about his early passing.
The shaky uncertainty in his voice, the changing keys, and the lyrics about drug abuse and death, give us a small glimpse into Smith’s self-destructive world.
Song About Death No. 20: “Someone Great” LCD Soundsystem
This moving song recalls the painful emotions we feel when we get a dreaded phone call about the passing of a loved one. It perfectly captures the rollercoaster ride of emotions we feel while grieving.
I wish that we could talk about it. But there – that’s the problem.
Song About Death No. 19: “One Sweet Day” By Mariah Carey & Boys II Men
This emotional ballad speaks of a love that was cut short by death. After the passing of a lover, the feelings and emotions don’t go away.
This song conveys the sentiment that while you’ll never fully get over the loss, you’ll still move forward in life, determined to see your lost love again “one sweet day.”
Song About Death No. 18: “Now You Belong to Heaven” By Mari Olsen
If you’ve ever lost a loved one, you’ll be able to relate to Olsen’s lyrics in “Now You Belong to Heaven.”
The lyrics express the pain that unanswered questions bring. While we can’t hold him or her in our arms, we hope that he or she is somehow close and watching over us.
Miss your voice, miss your smile. Everything about you, worth a while. Always wondering where you are. I hope you’re with us, near or far. Many questions aren’t answered. I guess, we’ll never know.
Song About Death No. 17: “Whiskey Lullaby” By Brad Paisley & Alison Krauss
This country ballad is quite possibly the most heartbreaking death song of all time.
This iconic duet is the story of a couple who married before he went away to war. When he returned, he discovered that his wife was with another man. Before he drank himself to death, he left a note to say that he still loved her.
His wife mourned his passing and believed it was her fault. As the result, she too suffered an alcohol-related death.
When her body was discovered, his picture was found in her arms.
Song About Death No. 16: “If I Could Be Where You Are” By Enya
This is one of the most hauntingly beautiful songs about death. The song writer wonders where our loved ones go after they pass away, and longs to be wherever they are.
The lyrics,”Where are you this moment? Only in my dreams. You’re missing, but you’re always a heartbeat from me,” are particularly powerful.
Song About Death No. 15: “When I’m Gone” By Joey and Rory
This already heartbreaking song has an even more heartbreaking story behind it.
Joey and Rory were a husband and wife country music bluegrass duo. They recorded this song in 2012, and it’s about a dying wife reassuring her husband that he’ll be okay when she’s gone.
The songwriter, Sandy Lawrence, wrote this ballad when her own mother was dying. The motivation for writing the song was to leave something behind for her husband and son in case she were to pass away before them, to let them know they’d be okay.
Tragically, 3 years after they recorded this song, Rory announced that his beloved wife Joey had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and that she’d passed away.
A bright sunrise will contradict. The heavy fog that weighs you down. In spite of all the funeral songs, the birds will make their joyful sounds. You’ll wonder why the Earth still moves. You’ll wonder how you’ll carry on. But you’ll be okay on that first day when I’m gone.
Song About Death No. 14: “Drink A Beer” By Luke Bryan
Country star Luke Bryan was hit with sudden and multiple family tragedies when he was just starting his career in the music industry.
His brother passed away in a car accident when Luke was only 26 years old, then his sister died unexpectedly one night for unknown reasons.
This song about death is dedicated to his late brother and sister and reflects on the memories he has with the both of them. “Funny how the good ones go too soon…”
Song About Death No. 13: “Angel” By Sarah McLachlan
This powerful song about death speaks about finding comfort in the afterlife where there’s an end to struggle and pain.
In the arms of the angel, fly away from here. From this dark, cold hotel room, and the endlessness that you fear. You are pulled from the wreckage, of your silent reverie. You’re in the arms of the angel, may you find some comfort here.
Song About Death No. 12: “Wake Me Up When September Ends” By Green Day
Green Day’s lead singer, Billie Joe Armstrong, wrote this heartbreaking song following the death of his father, who died of cancer on September 1, 1982.
He shares that after his father’s funeral he ran home and locked himself in his room. When his mom got home and knocked on the door to check on him, Billie simply answered, “Wake me up when September ends.”
The memory of that event was the inspiration behind this touching song.
Song About Death No. 11: “Do You Realize?” By The Flaming Lips
While this Flaming Lips song is about death, it still has an inspiring message. Even though we’ll all die someday, we have the opportunity right now to enjoy our lives to the fullest.
Do you realize that everyone you know someday will die. And instead of saying all of your goodbyes, let them know you realize that life goes fast.
Song About Death No. 10: “The Show Must Go On” By Queen
This famous Queen song was written about Freddie Mercury’s illness and was recorded by the band during his final days. It’s a wonderful tribute to a true performer.
Song About Death No. 9: “Love Is Stronger Than Death” By The The
Following the death of his beloved brother, Matt Johnson of the band “The The” wrote this touching song as a form of therapy.
The lyrics remind us that love is always stronger than death and that those we love never truly die because they live on in our hearts.
In our lives we hunger for those we cannot touch. All the thoughts unuttered and all the feelings unexpressed. Play upon our hearts like the mist upon our breath. But, awoken by grief, our spirits speak, ‘How could you believe that the life within the seed that grew arms that reached and a heart that beat. And lips that smiled. And eyes that cried. Could ever die?’
Song About Death No. 8: “Fire And Rain” By James Taylor
James Taylor wrote this song about the death of his friend Suzanne, which occurred while he was recording his first album.
This song’s mournful lyrics speak of both loss and redemption. It’s a cathartic song to listen to if you’re struggling with grief.
Just yesterday morning they let me know you were gone. Suzanne the plans they made put an end to you. I walked out this morning and I wrote down this song. I just can’t remember who to send it to.
Song About Death No. 7: “Who You’d Be Today” By Kenny Chesney
This is one of the best songs about dying young. “Who would you be today?” we often ask ourselves when someone has died before their time.
It ain’t fair you died too young. Like a story that had just begun. But death tore the pages all away. God knows how I miss you. All the hell that I’ve been through. Just knowing no one could take your place. Sometimes I wonder who you’d be today.
Song About Death No. 6: “Don’t Fear The Reaper” By Blue Oyster Cult
This poignant song reminds us that we cannot escape death, no matter how much we may want to. There’s no point wasting our energy worrying about something we cannot avoid. Instead, let’s choose to live meaningful lives.
Song About Death No. 5: “See You Again” By Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth
You may remember this beautiful song from the “Fast and the Furious 7” movie soundtrack.
It was recorded in tribute to the late Paul Walker, one of the film’s stars, after his sudden death in a car accident in 2013.
The message of this song is simple but powerful: Everyone has loved ones, and everyone will experience the loss of a loved one. What’s important is to cherish the time we spend together, because when death separates us, our memories will live on.
It’s been a long day without you, my friend. And I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again. We’ve come a long way from where we began. Oh I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again. When I see you again.
Song About Death No. 4: “Dancing In The Sky” By Dani And Lizzy
This song about death provides us with peace and comfort. This song expresses that our loved ones are in heaven, happy, free of pain and fear, and at peace.
Oh-oh-oh I, I hope you’re dancing in the sky. I hope your singing in the angels choir. And I hope the angels, know what they have. I bet it’s so nice up in heaven since you arrived.
Song About Death No. 3: “Stars” By Grace Potter & The Nocturnals
This is one of the most meaningful songs about death that you’ll find in this playlist since most of us question where our loved ones go after they die.
I can’t look at the stars, cause they make me wonder where you are.
Song About Death No. 2: “I Wish” By R. Kelly
R. Kelly wrote this emotional song after the death of one of his oldest friends.
Through his lyrics, Kelly shares fond memories about his friend. He also acknowledges that he’s still struggling with pain and grief, even though four years have passed since the death.
Song About Death No. 1: “The Great Gig In The Sky” By Pink Floyd
This Pink Floyd song was written by the band’s keyboard player, Rick Wright, and tells a brief story about a person who is dying.
With only 38 words in this entire song, the dynamics of the music (loudness and softness) play a pivotal role in telling the story.
The song starts off with great intensity, but gradually fades away. This represents a dying person’s transition from fighting against his impending demise, to gradually accepting death.
More Playlists To Listen To…
Did you know that Love Lives On has more playlists for when you’ve lost someone you love?
- Songs for when you’re missing someone
- Sad songs for when you need to have a good cry
- Songs that get how loneliness feels
It Helps to Share…
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