Organs In A Jar (Y8+)
Tim Griffin & some unruly middle schoolers

to the tune of Whiskey In The Jar (Irish trad)


Tutankhamen was a pharaoh of the land along the river

And when he died his people dried his stomach and his liver

His lungs and his intestine went into the salt of natron

Then stored in four canopic jars, each with a godly patron


(chorus) When a pharaoh died (clap x4) he’d be cut and dried (clap x2)

His body mummified, his organs in a jar


Then they put a hook into his nose and gently drew his brains out

Be careful where you put ‘em or you’ll never get the stains out

They dried him up for sixty days, it was a lot of work; he

Might once have been a mighty king… but now he’s just a jerky

(repeat chorus)


When he was done with desiccation, they removed the salt he’d been in

Then wrapped him up in resin and a hundred yards of linen

They laid him in a coffin and sarcophagus to rest in

With jars to hold his lungs and liver, stomach and intestine

(repeat chorus)


So they sealed him in a secret tomb with charms and wards and curses

He laid there through three thousand years and far too many verses

The pyramids were plundered but the secret tomb was smarter

We might have never found him if it weren’t for Howard Carter
(repeat chorus x2)


Organs In A Jar (demo)


This song was written (with some help from Tim) by a group of middle schoolers whose ancient civilizations textbook was a little... well,  dull. For some inspiration, I went back to James Burke's wonderful book CONNECTIONS to see if I could find something to pique their interest. Eventually a song emerged and  the kids agreed any civilization crazy enough to do stuff like this had to be worth a closer look.

There are no broadly accepted multi-state standards for history, but most states prescribe some kind of ancient history class in middle school. If you happen to be in California, here is one academic content standard addressed by this song:

CA HSS 6.2.3: Understand the relationship between religion and the social and political order in Mesopotamia and Egypt.

Your state probably has something like that on the books. However, it should be noted the real purpose here is just to pique kids' interest in archeology and ancient civilizations. Speaking of which, if you have kids in (or getting ready for) middle school I highly recommend you find a way to share James Burke's TV series with them, also called CONNECTIONS; along with CONNECTIONS 2 and CONNECTIONS 3 if possible. They are very pricy on DVD, but maybe you can check them out from your local library or find them streaming somewhere. Burke is a gifted storyteller with a knack for humanizing long-dead people and the things they did. Another recommendation for middle schoolers: the Horrible Histories (books and  TV series) are engaging, informative, and delightfully creepy.

Chords (in key of C): C, Am, F, G. You can include some 7ths etc. as you like, but those are optional.