Friday Five (or Six): Burial Instructions

Juli Thanki | March 19th, 2010

Who needs a will when you can write a country song instead? Turns out that country singers are pretty specific about the way they want to be laid to rest, whether it’s being propped up beside jukeboxes or having their stillhouses torn down or not being buried at all.

  • Learning To Bend6. “Bury Me With My Car” – Ben Sollee

    Cellist Sollee, one quarter of the Sparrow Quartet, released this tongue in cheek ode to four wheels on his solo debut Learning How to Bend. Who wouldn’t want to be buried with their beloved automobile? Well, probably Ben Sollee, for one: he’s an avowed bicyclist and biked over 300 miles (with his cello) to Bonnaroo last year as part of his “Pedaling Against Poverty” project.

  • Messenger5. “Bury Me Far (From My Uniform)” – Joe Pug

    Pug’s Dylanesque anti-war song finds him singing from the perspective of a dead soldier who rages against Congress and the rich: “I fought their battles in this world/I’ll not fight for them in the next/Do not find me justice/Just find me a grave/And then bury me far from my uniform/So God might remember my face.”

  • Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. [Expanded]4. “Bury Me” – Dwight Yoakam Duet with Maria McKee

    On this duet with Maria McKee from Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc., Yoakam’s a man gone astray, begging “Now don’t you mourn for me when my soul is free/Woman, don’t you cry/Just bury me along the Big Sandy/Under a blue Kentucky sky.” It’s less depressing when you’ve got some Bakersfield-influenced music in the background.

  • 3. “Bury The Bottle With Me” – Dick Curless

    A man’s drinking kept him from ever having a wife or family, so when he dies, he requests that they stick his beloved bottle in the casket with him so he “won’t be alone tonight.” Curless took this single to #55 in 1968. More recently, Robbie Fulks covered it on 13 Hillbilly Giants

  • 2. “O Bury Me Not On The Lone Prairie” – Sons of The Pioneers

    A dying cowboy requests to be buried by his father’s grave. However, none of his cowboy pals want to haul this guy’s corpse back home—especially since they probably didn’t have access to embalming fluid—so they stick him under some prairie dirt and throw a marker on top of it. Then he haunts the crap out of them. No, not really, but wouldn’t you?

    Johnny Cash, Moe Bandy, Burl Ives, and a few dozen others have recorded this song (also called “The Dying Cowboy”), which can be traced back to the early nineteenth century.

  • The Carter Family 1927 - 1934 Disc A1. “Bury Me Under The Weeping Willow” – Carter Family

    Sad song? Yes. Saddest song? Possibly. The song does raise one question: if you’re engaged to a jerk who’s untrue to you the day before your wedding, why on earth would you want to be reunited with that person in heaven? Anybody who’s anybody in traditional country/bluegrass has recorded this song; check out the mighty fine version below.

  1. Dave W.
    March 19, 2010 at 8:25 am

    And let’s not forget – Prop Me Up Beside The Jukebox When I Die – Joe Diffie.

  2. Paul W Dennis
    March 19, 2010 at 8:29 am

    Actually I think #1 should be “Bury Me In An Indian Burial Ground” by Marvin Rainwater, a native American country singer of the 1950s who had a major hit with “Gonna Find Me A Bluebird”

  3. Dave D.
    March 19, 2010 at 8:46 am

    Nice list. You could add one more for the Carter Family (and Robbie Fulks) with “Away out on the Old Saint Sabbath”, which is another take on the Bury Me Not On The Lone Prairie theme.

  4. Mike K
    March 19, 2010 at 9:02 am

    Thanks for the great list, Juli. My addition would be John Prine singing “Please Don’t Bury Me.”

  5. Ken Morton, Jr.
    March 19, 2010 at 9:13 am

    Juli, very nice list. I’d throw out there the sad “Whiskey Lullaby” by Brad Paisley & Alison Krauss.
    “We found her with her face down in the pillow
    Clinging to his picture for dear life
    We laid her next to him beneath the willow
    While the angels sang a whiskey lullaby”

  6. Jon
    March 19, 2010 at 9:14 am

    No, that #1 is exactly right; that song was way old when the Carters cut it, and it’s still got legs.

  7. Anna
    March 19, 2010 at 10:08 am


    I do something similar- I have a country music radio show in Scotland with a weekly theme. I’d love to see your take on my past themes, so here are my Friday five requests:

    overly-religious country
    songs about trucks
    songs about angry southern women
    songs about outlaws
    songs about fried food

  8. Wade
    March 19, 2010 at 10:54 am

    “Last Two Tens”- Porter Wagoner

  9. the Colonel
    March 19, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Another great one is “Ten Miles Deep” by the Randy Rogers Band.

  10. t.scott
    March 19, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    Obviously the title of the song needed the word “bury “in it.

    BUT “Rockabilly Funeral” is pretty cool,

  11. Rick
    March 19, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    Altough burial is not in the title, my vote goes to Doug Supernaw’s “Honky Tonkin’ Fool” about a friend who wanted a jukebox set up as his headstone that can only play “Your Cheatin’ Heart”. What a great, traditional style country song.

    As for transport to the gravesite, I’ll take the Randy Travis song “Take My Body Home On a Freight Train”. Come to think of it “Green, Green Grass of Home” is about burial instructions…

  12. Mayor JoBob
    March 19, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    Actually Rick, in Randy Travis’ song, he tells them to “bury me under mama’s apple tree”

  13. Thomas
    March 19, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    …does “being better off in a pine box on freight train back to georgia” count a as burial instruction? doug stone might have felt that way.

  14. luckyoldsun
    March 22, 2010 at 12:59 am

    Wade Hayes’ debut album “Old Enough To Know Better” had a great cut near the end called “Family Reunion” about a son who tracks down the corpse of his no-good father and brings it home to bury it next to the wife he abandoned decades before. The sone was sort of like “A Boy Named Sue” except that Daddy was already dead.

    And Doug Supernaw had a great song on his debut album called “Honky Tonkin’ Fool” whose chorus had the key lines:

    “Roll away my tombstone and put this jukebox in its place,
    And make damn sure ‘Your Cheatin’ Heart’ is the only song it plays,
    I don’t need no stone with fancy words,
    This jukebox would be cool,
    As a perfect final tribute to a honky tonkin’ fool.”

    There’s a burial instruction for you!

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