Song Quotes for a Eulogy
June 9, 2024 11:33 AM   Subscribe

I am giving my father's eulogy next weekend. He was not a religious man, nor a conventionally spiritual one. I'd like to have a quote from a song instead, to wrap things up.

He particularly liked:

The Eagles
Willy Nelson
The Oakridge Boys
The Flamingos

also something from the Doo-Wop era is a potential option. obviously something that would be appropriate to a memorial service (ie., NOT "mamas don't let you babies grow up to be cowboys").

if you are so inspired to help with this, know that you are helping me carry the weight of this time, and I thank you.
posted by supermedusa to Human Relations (16 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

Willie Nelson was one of the songwriters on "A Song For You" and these lyrics might work:

I love you in a place
Where there's no space or time
I love you for my life
You're a friend of mine
And when my life is over
Remember when we were together
posted by brookeb at 11:39 AM on June 9 [6 favorites]

I can't tell if you're looking for song lyrics he, specifically, would have known and liked. If not, consider this from Garnet Rogers:

We are brief as summer lightning
We are swift as swallows' flight
We are sparks that spiral upward,
in the darkness, in the night
We are frost upon a window
We won't pass this way again
In the end, dear, only love remains.

I am sorry for your terrible loss.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 11:40 AM on June 9 [7 favorites]

A week ago I was considering similar eras of music to play during the gathering before and after my father's funeral last Monday. He was also nonreligious, and although deeply familiar this one did get to me:

Leader of the Band - Dan Fogelberg
I thank you for the music and your stories of the road
I thank you for the freedom when it came my time to go
I thank you for the kindness and the times when you got tough
And papa, I don't think I said I love you near enough
The leader of the band is tired and his eyes are growing old
But his blood runs through my instrument and his song is in my soul
My life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man
I'm just a living legacy to the leader of the band
I am a living legacy to the leader of the band
posted by Lenie Clarke at 12:11 PM on June 9 [4 favorites]

First of all, I'm so sorry for your loss. I have a couple suggestions. One is Tommy Prine's song dedicated to his father, legendary song writer John Prine. It's called Ships in the Harbor. Song is here, lyrics are here.

My next suggestion is not what you asked for, but I thought it might offer more inspiration. I paraphrased it at my mother's funeral. As a nonreligious person, I find great comfort in it. This is by Aaron Freeman, and was first presented on NPR:

“You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died.

You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world.

You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid the energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.

And at one point you’d hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you.

And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.

And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.

And you’ll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time.

You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they’ll be comforted to know your energy’s still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you’re just less orderly. Amen.”
posted by Molasses808 at 12:29 PM on June 9 [15 favorites]

Billy Bragg, "Tank Park Salute"

Kiss me goodnight and say my prayers
Leave the light on at the top of the stairs
Tell me the names of the stars up in the sky
A tree taps on the window pane
That feeling smothers me again
Daddy, is it true that we all have to die?

At the top of the stairs
Is darkness
At the top of the stairs
Is darkness

I closed my eyes and when I looked
Your name was in the memorial book
And what had become of all the things we planned?
I accept the commiserations
Of all your friends and your relations
But there's some things I still don't understand

You were so tall
How could you fall?

Some photographs of a summer's day
A little boy's lifetime away
Is all I've left of everything we've done
Like a pale moon in a sunny sky
Death gazes down as I pass by
To remind me that I'm but my father's son

I offer up to you
This tribute
I offer up to you
This tank park salute
posted by kirkaracha at 12:48 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]

I will see you in the light of a thousand suns
I will hear you in the sound of the waves
I will know you when I come, as we all will come
Through the doors beyond the grave
All alone I came into this world
All alone I will someday die
Solid stone is just sand and water, baby,
Sand and water and a million years gone by.

(Beth Nielsen Chapman, "Sand and Water")

I'm so sorry for your loss.
posted by praemunire at 1:01 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]

Look up Willie Nelson last man standing. It’s about the idea of dying before or after all your friends.
posted by The_Vegetables at 2:24 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]

Sent MeFiMail. I hope the music is a comfort.
posted by theora55 at 3:39 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]

Sometimes there's a part of me
Has to turn from here and go
Running like a child from these warm stars
Down the Seven Bridges Road
There are stars in the southern sky
And if ever you decide you should go
There is a taste of thyme-sweetened honey
Down the Seven Bridges Road
posted by chasles at 6:01 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]

So sorry for your loss.

Warren Zevon, Keep Me in Your Heart For a While

Shadows are fallin' and I'm runnin' out of breath
Keep me in your heart for a while
If I leave you it doesn't mean I love you any less
Keep me in your heart for a while
When you get up in the mornin' and you see that crazy sun
Keep me in your heart for a while
There's a train leavin' nightly called "When All is Said and Done"
Keep me in your heart for a while
Keep me in your heart for a while
Keep me in your heart for a while
Sometimes when you're doin' simple things around the house
Maybe you'll think of me and smile
You know I'm tied to you like the buttons on your blouse
Keep me in your heart for a while
Hold me in your thoughts
Take me to your dreams
Touch me as I fall into view
When the winter comes
Keep the fires lit
And I will be right next to you
Engine driver's headed north up to Pleasant Stream
Keep me in your heart for a while
These wheels keep turnin' but they're runnin' out of steam
Keep me in your heart for a while
Keep me in your heart for a while
Keep me in your heart for a while
Keep me in your heart for a while
posted by platinum at 7:18 PM on June 9 [5 favorites]

I'm so sorry very sorry. If you'd like some hugs from an internet stranger, I send them to you unreservedly. Willie Nelson did a nice version of A Satisfied Mind about 10 years ago or so.

How many times have you heard someone say
"If I had his money, I could do things my way"?
But little they know that it's so hard to find
One rich man in ten with a satisfied mind

Once I was winning in fortune and fame
Everything that I dreamed for to get a start in life's game
Suddenly it happened, I lost every dime
But I'm richer by far with a satisfied mind

Money can't buy back your youth when you're old
Or a friend when you're lonely or a love that's grown cold
The wealthiest person is a pauper at times
Compared to the man with a satisfied mind

And when life has ended and my time has run out
My friends and my loved ones I'll leave, there's no doubt
But one thing's for certain, when it comes my time
I'll leave this old world with a satisfied mind

posted by paper scissors sock at 7:41 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you all for your kind and thoughtful responses. Yesterday's theme was "asking for help" and it really made me feel so much better to receive that.
posted by supermedusa at 9:46 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]

I'm so sorry for your profound loss.

We played this at my dad's service:

Carole King "Way over yonder"

Way over yonder
Is a place that I know
Where I can find shelter
From a-hunger and cold

And the sweet tastin' good life
Is so easily found
Way over yonder
That's where I'm bound

I know, when I get there
The first thing I'll see
Is the sun shining golden
Shining right down on me

Then trouble's gonna lose me
Worry leave me behind
And I'll stand up proudly
In true peace of mind
Talking 'bout a, talking 'bout a

Way over yonder
Is a place I have seen
In a garden of wisdom
From some long ago dream
Oh, yeah
posted by Sreiny at 10:59 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]

Diamonds are forever and these old cars they still keep rollin' on
And all those "I love you forever's" they're just words that can't be depended on
Because when they're wrong, they're wrong
And when they're gone, they're gone
'Cause nothing lasts forever but old Fords or a natural stone
Willie Nelson, Old Fords And A Natural Stone
posted by xedrik at 11:43 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]

My dad died a couple years back and loved Willie Nelson-it’s totally my childhood, that music. He was also an adamant atheist. The two songs that make me mourn and celebrate him whenever I hear them-Me and Paul and his cover, with Lukas, of Breathe.

I’m a lucky man, to count on both hands the ones I love——
Love you til I die. See you on the other side.
posted by purenitrous at 9:00 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]

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