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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Juli Thanki is the editor of Engine 145 and a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, Bluegrass Unlimited, and M Music & Musicians Magazine. In 2011 she received the International Bluegrass Music Association Print Media Person of the Year award.