“Pickle My Bones in Alcohol”


A dying request, with the verse, "When I die don't bury me at all... Just pickle my bones in alcohol" (or, sometimes, corn pone). The rest of the song varies widely, usually with other requests for the burial; it may also have blues floating verses


This piece is one of those Big Problems, because the key verse ("When I die don't bury me at all") floats, and also has a variable ending. We do the best we can with it.

Edith Perrin's West Indian version is so distinct that I thought about calling it a separate song:

Mama, when I die

Don't you bury me at all

Just cure my bone and body in alcohol.

Two bottles of beer,

One at my head and one at my feet,

Then to show the world

That my bones can cure,

My bones can cure.

I suspect that this may have mixed in part of another song -- just possibly, in fact, a religious song, since the Bible tells, e.g., of the curative power of Elisha's bones (2 Kings 13:21). But we really need more text to prove it.

Cross references


  • Edith Perrin, "When I Die" [fragment] (on USWarnerColl01)


  1. BrownIII 38, "Pickle My Bones in Alcohol" (1 relatively full text, 3 fragments plus mention of 2 more)
  2. Roud #727
  3. BI, Br3038


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1952 (Brown)
Found in: US(SE) West Indies