Bury Me Beneath the Willow

"Bury Me Beneath the Willow" is a traditional ballad folk song, listed as number 410 in the Roud Folk Song Index.[1] It is also known as "Bury Me Beneath the Weeping Willow",[1] "The Weeping Willow",[1] "The Willow Tree"[1] and "Under the Willow Tree".[2] Its author is unknown.[3]

"Bury Me Beneath the Willow"
Folk song
CatalogueRoud 410
Publishedearlier than 1909
1927 recording of Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow, by the Carter Family, released in January 1928.

The first citation to the song[3] appears in Henry Marvin Belden's 1909 compilation Ballads and Songs Collected by the Missouri Folk-Lore Society as "Under the Willow Tree".[2]

The song's lyrics relate that the singer's lover has left her (in some descriptions just prior to their wedding). She asks that she be buried beneath the willow tree, in the hopes that her lover will still think of her.[3][2]

Recordings and performancesEdit

The song has been recorded by several artists and was the signature tune of Chicago folksinger Linda Parker.[4] Performers recording the song include: Dick Burnett and Leonard Rutherford (1927);[3] the Carter Family (1927);[3] The Delmore Brothers (1938);[3] The Shelton Brothers and Curly Fox (1936);[3][5] and Ricky Skaggs and Tony Rice (1980).[6]

The Carter Family also recorded an answer song, "Answer To Weeping Willow", in 1936.[7] The lyrics are from the point of view of the original singer's lover, telling how he had not really left her, and that she was actually his true love and he had never meant for her to think otherwise.[8]

In October 2020, Dolly Parton spontaneously performed some lyrics from the song as a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, referencing her mother who used to sing it to her. Parton's rendition was lauded by Colbert, bringing him to tears.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d "S230460 (Bury Me Beneath the Willow)". Roud Folksong Index. Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Retrieved October 21, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Belden, Henry Marvin (1940). Ballads and songs collected by the Missouri folk-lore society. Missouri Folklore Society. pp. 512–514. OCLC 1572952. Retrieved October 21, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Waltz, Robert B.; Engle, David G. "Bury Me Beneath the Willow". Traditional Ballad Index Version 5.2. Fresno State University. Retrieved October 21, 2020.
  4. ^ Pecknold, Diane; McCusker, Kristine M. (2010). A Boy Named Sue: Gender and Country Music. University Press of Mississippi. p. 36. ISBN 978-1-62846-703-1.
  5. ^ "Decca matrix 60247. Bury me beneath the willow-1 / The Shelton Brothers - Discography of American Historical Recordings". Discography of American Historical Recordings. University of California Santa Barbara Library. Retrieved October 21, 2020.
  6. ^ "Ricky Skaggs & Tony Rice – Bury Me Beneath The Weeping Willow". Genius Lyrics. Retrieved October 21, 2020.
  7. ^ Answer To Weeping Willow at Discogs
  8. ^ "Answer To Weeping Willow". Bluegrass Lyrics. Retrieved October 21, 2020.
  9. ^ Stump, Scott (October 21, 2020). "Watch Stephen Colbert weep as Dolly Parton sings 'Bury Me Beneath The Willow'". The Today Show. NBC. Retrieved October 21, 2020.

External linksEdit