An Interesting Version of The Hearse Song

We have many versions of The Hearse Song on Mama Lisa’s World.  You can find one version here with a recording and a lot of other versions here.  I recently received yet another one, which has an interesting backstory.  Here’s the email I received from Ananda Patterson:

This version is from my grandfather, who was born in 1919 in Monticello, Illinois (at the time, a small farming community). When he was a boy, he liked to head down to the hobo jungle along the Illinois Central Railroad tracks (headed for Decatur) and hang out with the hobos and listen to their songs and stories. One song he remembered for me was (apparently) the hearse song, although he didn’t have a name for it. He said he was about 12 when he heard it, so that would be 1931. Anyway, here is the version Grampy told me:

Did you ever think when the hack goes by
That someday too both you and I
Will travel along in that same old hack
With nary a thought of coming back.

They’ll lower your body into the ground
And the men with shovels will stand around
They’ll throw in some dirt and they’ll throw in some rocks
That’ll fall with a thud on your old pillbox.

The worms will crawl out and the worms will crawl in
They’ll crawl all over your face and chin
They’ll call in their friends and their friends’ friends too
And you’ll look like hell when they’re through with you.

That’s as much as he could recall at age 92, but I imagine there may have been more to it. It struck me since I had sung the more common version as a kid (the pinochle on your snout version), so I pestered him to remember it as best he could and wrote down his answer. I notice it’s quite different from the other versions on your web site, so I thought I’d send it along.

PS Grampy spoke the song rather than sang it, so I don’t know how it goes aside from some cadence [Did you ever think (pause) when the hack goes by (pause) etc.] – each line is broken in the middle. I originally typed in the commas at the breaks but it looked weird. It wouldn’t work with the melody my friends and I sang the worms song to, the cadence is all wrong.

Thanks for sharing Ananda!

-Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 at 10:34 am and is filed under American Kids Songs, Children's Songs, Countries & Cultures, England, English, Folk Songs, Halloween Songs, Holiday Songs, Languages, The Hearse Song, USA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “An Interesting Version of The Hearse Song”

  1. Stacey York Says:

    Okay, here’s the version I remember:

    Don’t you ever laugh when the hearse goes by ’cause you may be the next to die
    They’ll wrap you up in a big white sheet and bury you down six feet deep
    The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out, the worms play pinochle on your snout
    Your eyes turn into a watery green, your guts come out like shaving cream
    You put them between two slices of bread and that’s what you eat when you are dead.

    I guess we were pretty weird kids…..

  2. Caleb Chalk Says:

    Heres a verse from a variation I remember;
    The worms crawl out
    The worms crawl in
    Your intestines boil, your blood starts to thin
    The worms crawl out into a mass
    Your eyes explode, your skin turns black

  3. Sylvi Sterling Says:

    Here is the version we sang in Southern California in the 1950’s.
    Don’t ever laugh when a hearse goes by
    For you may be the next to die.
    They wrap you in a bloody sheet
    And bury you about six feet deep.
    Then all goes well for about a week
    And then your coffin begins to creak.
    The worms go in, the worms go out
    The worms play pinochle on your snout. (alt: In your stomach and out your snout.)
    they use your eyes for basket balls
    And bounce them down your liver walls!

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