Most popular funeral songs listed
When the pain of losing someone we love is too intense for words, we often rely on music to express a string of emotions that vividly conveys what we’re feeling. Yes, we’re very much aware of the fleeting nature of life in the “physical” dimension, but that doesn’t make a loved one’s passing any less painful.
In instances involving extreme grief and mourning, articulating our thoughts and emotions through music helps ease the pain and longing for them. That is why songs that are played at wakes and interments are carefully chosen because, as Cooperative Funeralcare operations director David Collingwood explained to gigwise.com, music has become such an important part of people’s lives. (Cooperative Funeralcare is the largest funeral service in the United Kingdom, with more than a thousand funeral homes and a handful of cemeteries operating to date.)
The aforementioned website’s list of top funeral songs encompasses a variety of musical genres that includes timeless standards (Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” Gerry & the Pacemakers’ “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” Eva Cassidy’s “Over the Rainbow”), classical pieces (Schubert’s “Ave Maria,” Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons,” Pachelbel’s “Canon in D,” Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma”), biblical tunes (“The Lord is My Shepherd/Psalm 23,”), traditional hymns (“All Things Bright and Beautiful”), and pop songs that are as timeless as the performers who sing them, like Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On,” Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up,” Robbie Williams’ “Angels,” and Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli’s “Time to Say Goodbye.”
Easy to recall
In the Philippines, especially in places outside its “westernized” urban jungles, a number of bereaved families still prefer a marching band-serenaded sendoff for their departed loved ones, as well as earnestly rendered songs and chants in the vernacular that are easy to recall because they’re distinctly atonal and melodically repetitive.
For the more “mainstream” market, however, while the list of preferred funeral songs includes Sinatra’s “My Way,” Dion’s “The Prayer,” Groban’s “You Raise Me Up” and “To Where You Are,” The Beatles’ “In My Life,” Eric Clapton’s “Tears In Heaven,” Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me,” Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel,” Michael Jackson’s “Gone Too Soon,” Phil Collins’ “You’ll Be In My Heart,” Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind” and, until recently, Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On,” it also reveals the Pinoy preference for the unfading ballads of Basil Valdez, Color It Red’s “Paglisan” and Noel Cabangon’s “Kanlungan.”
Filipinos, who are admittedly more “musical” than many races in terms of temperament, taste and preference, would rather listen to and sing along with Basil’s soaring and sweepingly dramatic ballads than any of the other tunes on this “unique” playlist.
In fact, no song comes close to the popularity of Basil’s “Hindi Kita Malilimutan,” the Manoling Francisco-penned top song on the list. But “Hanggang sa Dulo ng Walang Hanggan,” “Kung Ako’y Iiwan Mo” and “Tanging Yaman” are just as popular—a testament to the legendary balladeer’s performing gifts and formidable interpretive skills.
Also on great demand are the different covers of “Maalaala Mo Kaya,” Gary Valenciano’s “The Warrior is a Child” (especially after the unexpected death of Rico Yan on March 27, 2002), Julie Vega’s “Somewhere in My Past” (whose popularity soared in the provinces after she died in 1985, at age 16), Ogie Alcasid’s “Pangako,” Rey Valera’s “Malayo Pa Ang Umaga” and Martin Nievera’s “Kahit Isang Saglit.”
The newest addition to the lineup is Sugarfree’s “Huwag Ka Nang Umiyak,” made even more popular by the tonally different revivals of Gary Valenciano and KZ Tandingan.
For its part, our No. 2 tune, the Cooky Chua-rendred “Paglisan” by Color It Red, is noteworthy for its no-frills melodic simplicity, lyrical eloquence and elegiac beauty:
Kung ang buhay ay isang umagang nakangiti
At ikaw ay ang lupang sinusuyo ng bituin
’Di mo man silip ang langit, ito’y nandirito pa rin
Kung ang lahat ay may katapusan
Itong paglalakbay ay makakarating din sa paroroonan
At sa ’yong paglisan
Ang tanging pabaon ko ay
As funeral songs go, you can’t be more appropriate than that.