Bury Me Beneath the Willow

Bury Me Beneath the Willow is an old folk song that has been recorded and adapted many times by instrumentalists and singers alike. One early recording of the song can be found among the great John Quincy Wolf Folklore Collection. Wolf began collecting Ozark ballads while an undergraduate at Arkansas (now Lyon) college and recorded many traditional folk singers in the 50's and early 60's. Here's a clip of one such recording, Mrs Amanda Riddle singing an unaccompanied version of Bury Me Beneath the Willow in Miller AK, 1957.

Audio clip: Bury Me sung by Amanda Riddle, 1957

By comparison, our next clip is a commercial pop version — "hillbilly music", they would have called it — by the great ballad singer and lap dulcimer player Jean Ritchie (above). She included it on her 1962 album, Precious Memories, which features songs remembered from her childhood in the Cumberland Mountains of Kentucky.

Audio clip: Bury Me from Jean Ritchie's Precious Memories, 1962


One of my personal favorite recordings of traditional country songs is the eponymous Skaggs and Rice on Sugar Hill Records, which dates to 1980. Both Ricky Skaggs and Tony Rice (shown here with Jerry Douglas on Dobro) are fantastic instrumentalists, but on this recording they give the songs themselves — including Bury Me Beneath the Willow — a lot of space and respect with beautiful vocals and tasteful solos througout. Here's a taste:

Audio clip: Bury Me from Skaggs and Rice

The song lends itself well to instrumental versions as well. Here are two samples, the first recorded by Clarence White on his 33 Acoustic Guitar Instrumentals and the second by a fine contemporary player, Scott Nygaard, from his No Hurry.

Audio clip: Bury Me from Clarence White's 33 Acoustic Guitar Instrumentals

Audio clip: Bury Me from Scott Nygaard's No Hurry

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