Music

Bury Me Beneath the Weeping Willow

going-barefoot

I’m not sure what it is about summer, but it always takes me back to childhood and makes me feel like I’m a skinny barefoot girl again even though those days are long since gone.

Summer in Appalachia is magical. 

It’s as if the outdoors beckon you like a seducing siren. The land simply comes to life. I’m sure others feel the same calling the same awakening in other parts of the country, but I can only speak of what I know and summer in Appalachia is something I know.

The word summer makes me think of barefeet, slamming screendoors, a sea of green, being sent to the garden for something, sending someone to the garden for something, katydids, lightning bugs, warm tomatoes, canning jars, hard work, swimming, sunning, watermelons, blackberries, flip flops, cotton night gowns, warm dirt, baseball, sun kissed faces, corn on the cob, fried squash, fresh cucumbers, picking and grinning on the porch, clotheslines, honey bees, orange day lilies, and red hot pokers.

I love the song “Summertime” composed by George Gershwin and made famous by many. I used to try and get the girls to learn it pretty much every summer but they never managed to do it. Paul and Wayde Powell III have a wonderful version you can hear it here.

There are other songs that take me back to summer. One is “Bury Me Beneath the Willow.” When Pap and Paul were still playing it was one of my favorite songs to play the bass on.

Lucky for me, the girls did learn that one so I still get to play the tune today.

 

I dug around on one of my favorite music site: Mud Cate Cafe and found a quote from Mother Maybelle Carter that had been shared by a Mud Cat member:

‘Bury Me Beneath the Weeping Willow’
From: Kaleea
Date: 25 Jul 05 – 10:19 PM

Ok, here’s the rest of what I found:

During a 1970’s interview, I asked Mother Maybelle Carter about the song, “Bury Me Beneath The Willow .”

She replied, “That was a song we had sang all our lives. We first heard the song at a family get-together and decided to learn it. We did learn the words and sang it at all our family parties and get-togethers. The song became quite popular so when we recorded for RCA Victor in 1927–we recorded “Bury Me Beneath The Willow” on our first recording session in Bristol, Tennessee. The original version of the song was written by Bradley Kincaid.”


 

The thread about the song on Mud Cat Cafe is interesting. The commenters discuss the varying titles the song has been given over the years, as well as the various lyrics that have been used by different performers. I think its pretty safe to say neither A.P. Carter nor Kincaid wrote the song. Most song historians agree its been around longer than either of them.

“The Journal of Roots Music” has this to say about the history of the song: “…it is more likely that Mr. Kincaid simply “collected” the song during his travels in the mountains, since a written version was in existence when he was only 14, and already in tradition. “

If you’d like to hear a few other versions of the song here’s one with Pap, Paul, me, and one of my nephews. And here’s another version from The Pressley Girls when they were much younger.

You Might Also Like

14 Comments

  • Reply
    Dennis M Morgan
    August 2, 2021 at 8:28 pm

    I like Bury Me Beneath the Weeping Willow. The girls do a good job singing it.

    I have fond memories of summer time also. Mine are mainly from roaming around in the woods and fishing in the creek near our house. That is one of the reasons I liked Scouting so much; I could roam around in the woods and fish and at the same time teach boys to enjoy it too.

  • Reply
    Sue Myers
    August 1, 2021 at 10:22 pm

    When August rolls around as is today, the summer is slipping away so quickly. I loved your comments on what summertime means to you. Sweet reminders of summer to me, too. Loved Paul’s version of Summertime. Great song and so fitting for the 1st of August. Thanks, Tipper.

  • Reply
    Gigi
    August 1, 2021 at 12:15 pm

    Tipper, you mentioned there Bristol Tn. That’s right above us. We did all those things as a child, and probably more. Child hood memories and songs, alot if them go together when you look back. It’s just wonderful to look back and ponder for awhile. And even hum a tune too.

  • Reply
    Kat Swanson
    August 1, 2021 at 10:44 am

    I will add a few things I always think of in our Appalachian summers in Wise County. VA….we had cousin visiting from all those that had left in the 50s and 60s. We played rolly bats in
    the small flat spaces in our hillside yards. We had family berry pickings. The only BAD THING about summer….the real danger of copperhead and rattlesnakes!

  • Reply
    Donald Wells
    August 1, 2021 at 10:43 am

    Sitting here reading your description of summer to my wife.A smile comes across her face, as she says that brings back good memories.She tells me they went barefoot all summer when kids, wearing shoes only to church and the store.Oh yeah, less I forget HAPPY BIRTHDAY TIPPER, August 5, my Mommas would have been August 10.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    August 1, 2021 at 9:45 am

    Beautiful summer poetry, Tipper!

  • Reply
    SusieQ
    August 1, 2021 at 9:44 am

    Savoring the summer here too …and sweet rememberings of yesteryears , wow, that sure was some picking and singing … August for us is filled with alot of birthdays ,including mine …yet I know the season of summer will begin to wane before long , like the sun going down on a hot August day to rise the next to frost covered fallen leaves …But I enjoy something about every seasons changes ..yet in the thick of winter , I miss the green, In the hot of August’s end I begin to anticipate a brisk fall morning ,when the wind can twirl you around with the fallen leaves.

  • Reply
    William Stewart
    August 1, 2021 at 9:16 am

    It is perhaps best known in the Carter Family’s version, but was also recorded by Woody Guthrie, who loved the Carters’ music and covered a few of their songs, and other old standards like “Wreck of the Old 97”. Wonderful music.

  • Reply
    Margie G
    August 1, 2021 at 8:48 am

    I liked the girls rendition of this old song. They did a fine job picking, sawing, and singing and it was most enjoyable. All the terms you used to describe summer are spot on! This has been a wonderful summer here on the southern WV/VA border. As a matter of fact, atop East River Mountain there are many trees that won’t grow north or south of here so this seems to be a God given barrier between northern fauna and southern as well. I find that interesting living in Nature’s Air Conditioned City- Bluefield, WV. God bless you all this fine Sunday morning.

  • Reply
    Janis Zeglen
    August 1, 2021 at 8:46 am

    “Summertime” is my most favorite secular song! Thanks for sharing this video!

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    August 1, 2021 at 8:33 am

    One of those tunes that just abides in your head. Kinda suspect when I hear it hereafter I will be seeing Katy and Corey before the green woods and the dark green rhododendron.

    One of my favorite summer things is the smell of hot dust flung up by the first hard drops of a summer thunderstorm.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 1, 2021 at 8:07 am

    I love summer too, Tipper. It is when everything is alive and fertile and growing. I think it represents hope for things to come.
    The song is beautiful and well done by the girls. I can hear the history in it!

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    August 1, 2021 at 7:03 am

    I love that old song. I can remember hearing my mother sing it when working around the house. And it was one of the first “thumbpickin” songs I learned to play on guitar. Long time ago.

  • Reply
    Valeri K Feinbloom
    August 1, 2021 at 6:44 am

    Your recollections about summer are some of the sweetest and most joyful words I’ve ever read. Thank you for sharing this with us. And I had recently watched the girl’s video, and their rendition of ‘Bury Me Beneath the Willow” was powerful, poignant and haunting. Many hugs, this summer and always.

  • Leave a Reply