Little Brown Jug (song)

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This article is about the drinking song. For the Brown University humor magazine, see The Brown Jug.
Original 1869 sheet music cover

"Little Brown Jug" is a song written in 1869 by Joseph Winner, originally published credited to "Eastburn" (Winner's middle name).

It was originally a drinking song. It remained well known as a folk song into the early 20th century. Like many songs which make reference to alcohol, it enjoyed new popularity during the Prohibition era. In 1939, bandleader Glenn Miller recorded and broadcast his swing instrumental arrangement of the tune with great success, and the number became one of the best known orchestrations of the American Big Band era.[1] His version did not have the lyrics.

1939 Glenn Miller Recording[edit]

1939 Glenn Miller recording on RCA Bluebird, B-10286-A.
1953 sheet music cover from the film The Glenn Miller Story, Lew Music, New York.

In 1939, Glenn Miller and His Orchestra released a hit version of the song on RCA Bluebird, as an A side 78 single, B-10286-A, in a new arrangement by Bill Finegan backed with "Pavanne". The recording was an early chart hit for Glenn Miller. The song was performed in Glenn Miller's Carnegie Hall concert that year and became a staple of the Glenn Miller Orchestra repertoire and a classic of the Big Band era.

The song was featured in and was central to the plot of the 1953 Universal Pictures film biography The Glenn Miller Story starring James Stewart and June Allyson.

It was also sung by Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer and Harold "Slim" Switzer in an Our Gang (Little Rascals) short.


The song's lyrics are about a man and his wife and their hard life due to alcoholism; however, the tone and tune are bright and cheerful.

Original lyrics[edit]

Me and my wife live all alone
In a little log hut we call our own;
She loves gin and I love rum,
And don't we have a lot of fun!
Ha, ha, ha, you and me,
Little brown jug, don't I love thee!
Ha, ha, ha, you and me,
Little brown jug, don't I love thee!
When I go toiling on the farm
I take the little jug under my arm;
Place it under a shady tree,
Little brown jug, 'tis you and me.
’Tis you that makes me friends and foes,
’Tis you that makes me wear old clothes;
But, seeing you're so near my nose,
Tip her up and down she goes.
If all the folks in Adam's race
Were gathered together in one place,
I'd let them go without a tear
Before I'd part from you, my dear.
If I'd a cow that gave such milk,
I'd dress her in the finest silk;
Feed her up on oats and hay,
And milk her twenty times a day.
I bought a cow from Farmer Jones,
And she was nothing but skin and bones;
I fed her up as fine as silk,
She jumped the fence and strained her milk.
And when I die don't bury me at all,
Just pickle my bones in alcohol;
Put a bottle o' booze at my head and feet
And then I know that I will keep.
The rose is red, my nose is too,
The violet's blue and so are you;
And yet, I guess, before I stop,
We'd better take another drop.

Modified lyrics[edit]

As a children's song, the lyrics are often changed. Sometimes a verse is modified to fit the melody and rhythm of the tune:

I got a dog, he's a hound,
Always diggin' in the ground.
Every time I hide my jug,
That's just where that ole hound dug.
Me, my wife, and a bobtailed dog,
crossed a creek on a hollow log,
the log, it broke, and we fell in,
and little brown jug got filled again.

In the Famous Studios 1948 "Screen Song" cartoon short titled "Little Brown Jug", a " Bouncing Ball" cartoon, it is sung with the music credited to Winston Sharples and entirely new lyrics by Buddy Kaye.


  1. ^ Glenn Miller and Bill Finegan were the arrangers of the song based on the ASCAP database and the EMI Feist publishing catalogue.

The chorus lyrics are used in a modified form in the song "The Coral Room" by Kate Bush on the album Aerial, referring to a song her mother sang in the kitchen.

"Little brown jug, don't I love thee" "Ho ho ho, hee, hee, hee."

External links[edit]