This repetitious drinking song about downing bottles of ale one by one until they're gone (that's when you "go to the store and buy some more") became a popular road trip singalong among North American school kids in the mid-20th century. It's a controversial song choice that seldom has an opportunity to be sung all the way through. Not because it encourages children to merrily embrace alcoholism, but its relentless chanting drives adult chaperones batty.
Written by an anonymous author, the folk tune is often linked to the traditional UK nursery rhyme "Ten Green Bottles
," which teaches kids to count backwards from ten by removing one bottle at a time. Unlike the American variation, the bottles aren't filled with booze, at least not overtly. It also resembles the folk song "Ninety-Nine Blue Bottles," which was first published in 1910.