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Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?

DigiTrad:
COTTON-EYED JOE


Related threads:
Help: Cotton Eye Joe History (35)
Lyr/Chords Req: Cotton-Eyed Joe (32)
Cotton-eyed Joe (10)
Cotton Eyed Joe....what's it mean.... (8) (closed)
Chords Req: Cotton Eyed Joe (5)
Lyr/Chords Add: cotton eyed joe (2)


Q (Frank Staplin) 23 Jul 14 - 01:50 PM
Airymouse 23 Jul 14 - 12:34 PM
GUEST,Marg Pearce 22 Jul 14 - 04:27 PM
mayomick 12 Mar 13 - 03:55 PM
GUEST,Kyle 12 Mar 13 - 01:47 PM
Barbara 27 Oct 11 - 07:56 PM
GUEST,randmor 27 Oct 11 - 03:41 AM
Stewie 08 Mar 11 - 09:28 AM
GUEST,Guest 24 Jun 09 - 07:04 AM
Amos 17 Jan 09 - 11:17 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 17 Jan 09 - 08:57 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 17 Jan 09 - 08:37 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 26 Dec 08 - 01:04 PM
oombanjo 24 Dec 08 - 04:37 AM
Goose Gander 23 Dec 08 - 04:21 PM
GUEST,Durango_Trucker 16 Sep 08 - 01:31 AM
balladeer 05 May 08 - 05:47 AM
Goose Gander 22 Apr 08 - 12:33 AM
Goose Gander 28 Mar 08 - 07:46 PM
GUEST 28 Mar 08 - 06:12 PM
GUEST,Buster 29 Jan 08 - 09:08 AM
katlaughing 26 Jan 08 - 11:03 PM
GUEST,Angel 26 Jan 08 - 10:52 PM
GUEST,rogmc 25 Jan 08 - 03:30 PM
Mr Happy 04 Dec 07 - 11:53 AM
GUEST,Dadsfolk 31 Oct 07 - 11:03 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 27 Oct 07 - 01:28 PM
GUEST,SCWV 27 Oct 07 - 12:59 PM
GUEST,SCWV 27 Oct 07 - 12:47 PM
GUEST,T-Bone 27 Oct 07 - 10:47 AM
GUEST,Leonard Powell 08 Oct 07 - 06:40 PM
Goose Gander 29 May 07 - 06:41 PM
balladeer 06 May 07 - 01:05 AM
GUEST,Michelle MAC 05 May 07 - 11:35 PM
open mike 25 Apr 07 - 11:59 AM
Leadfingers 25 Apr 07 - 03:49 AM
Goose Gander 16 Apr 07 - 03:28 PM
Goose Gander 16 Apr 07 - 02:50 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 16 Apr 07 - 12:42 AM
GUEST,Tary Morris 15 Apr 07 - 10:20 PM
GUEST,Mizu 03 Mar 07 - 06:09 PM
Wordsmith 09 Feb 07 - 01:08 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 04 Feb 07 - 04:54 PM
Azizi 04 Feb 07 - 03:24 PM
Duke 04 Feb 07 - 09:48 AM
GUEST,chloe 04 Feb 07 - 09:08 AM
GUEST,tomtom1942 03 Feb 07 - 08:59 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 26 Jan 07 - 11:36 PM
Arkie 26 Jan 07 - 11:21 PM
GUEST,cfizzle 26 Jan 07 - 02:25 PM
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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 23 Jul 14 - 01:50 PM

Many added verses by various fiddlers, singers and local bands..

Airymouse, thanks for adding. The "beat the devil" verse I hadn't heard or didn't remember.


This thread has been repeatedly hijacked by spammers. It is closed for the time being - if someone needs to post, contact a moderator. --mudelf


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: Airymouse
Date: 23 Jul 14 - 12:34 PM

I don't know anything about this song, except what I heard. It seems to me there are two possibilities. It was a catchy tune, easy to dance to and all sorts of verses got attached to it. In this case, as Dick Greenhaus suggests, any coherent story is just an attempt to piece together from all the attached verses something that makes sense. The second possibility is that there was an old song and because of its catchy tune the fiddlers appropriated it for dance music. Thereafter lots of travelling verses were added, muddying the waters. Anyway here is what I heard from Lightning Jack in Floyd VA:
Hadna been for Cotton-eyed Joe
I'd been married 9 years ago

Corn cob fiddle pea vine bow
I beat the devil outa cotton-eyed Joe

Where did you come from where did you go
Where did you come from Cotton-eyed Joe?

Come fo to see you come fo to sing
Come fo to show you my diamond ring

Looked in the window
Looked in the do'
All I saw was cotton-eyed Joe


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: GUEST,Marg Pearce
Date: 22 Jul 14 - 04:27 PM

My dad had a radio show in New Zealand of jazz music for 30 years and Cotton-eyed Joe was his theme song. He loved the American negro and trad jazz so I can't imagine he would have used it if he thought it was racist in any way.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: mayomick
Date: 12 Mar 13 - 03:55 PM

A pic of Cotton Eye Joe Delaney , a notorious Dublin criminal, here . So called because of his weepy eyes according to the article . I'm not sure whether he got his nick name from the song , which is well known in Ireland, or if the term " cotton eye" existed in Ireland before the song was written.

http://www.sundayworld.com/columnists/index.php?aid=6790


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: GUEST,Kyle
Date: 12 Mar 13 - 01:47 PM

Interesting possibility found on another site (Ask.com) that "cotton-eyed" derives from the Southern colloquial verb, "to cotton", meaning, "to take a liking to." So, Cotton-Eyed Joe may refer to a man who has an eye for the ladies, or to the ladies who take a liking to him. This makes sense in a song that clearly references sexual promiscuity and infidelity.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: Barbara
Date: 27 Oct 11 - 07:56 PM

Big fish, little fish
Swimming in the water
Some son-of-a-gun done coached(?) my daughter

I would venture a guess that the word is 'poached' as in 'stolen'.
Blessings
Barbara


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: GUEST,randmor
Date: 27 Oct 11 - 03:41 AM

Scoville's version of Cotton Eyed Joe includes the lines:

So, eighteen, nineteen, twenty years ago,
Papa worked a man called Cotton-Eyed Joe,

Which reminds me of a Zydeco song called "Uncle Bud"
and which includes the lines:

Eighteen, nineteen, twenty years ago
Uncle Bud beat the devil out of Cotton Eyed Joe

I guess that pesky Cotton Eyed Joe really got around.

Here's the rest of the lyrics to "Uncle Bud". I'm not sure
who wrote or recorded it, but it could have been Boozoo.

18, 19, 20 years ago
Uncle Bud beat the devil out of Cotton Eyed Joe
Uncle Bud

Some people say Uncle Bud is dead
You dog-gone liers, he's sick in bed
Uncle Bud

Uncle Bud's got a daughter
Her name is Joan
What I like about her
Make an old man moan
Uncle Bud

Uncle Bud's got cotton, ain't never been picked
Uncle Bud's got corn, ain't never been shucked
Uncle Bud's got a daughter, ain't never been touched
Uncle Bud

Big fish, little fish
Swimming in the water
Some son-of-a-gun done coached(?) my daughter

Down in Louisiana where the grass grows green
They've got more women than you've ever seen
Uncle Bud

Uncle Bud got this
Uncle Bud got that
Uncle Bud got a big old cowboy hat
Uncle Bud

Yonder come Mark with a pack on his back
He bring more cotton than he can pack
Uncle Bud

I guess this is just another example where verses sometimes
just float from one song to another... like all those that
are shared between 'Old Joe Clark' and 'Boil Dem Cabbage Down".

-rm


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: Stewie
Date: 08 Mar 11 - 09:28 AM

Can any 'catter check these lyrics of 'Cotton-eyed Joe' as sung by Mike Seeger's band Agents of Terra in reggae style back when the world was young?

COTTON-EYED JOE
(As performed by Agents of Terra)

Eighteen nineteen, 20 years ago
Daddy had a man he called cotton-eyed Joe

Tell me, where did you come from
Where did you go
Tell me, where did you come from
Cotton-eyed Joe

I fell down, stubbed my toe
Call for the doctor, cotton-eyed Joe

Tell me, where did you come from
Where did you go
Tell me, where did you come from
Cotton-eyed Joe

Instrumental break

Eighteen days of rain and snow
The roof fell in on cotton-eyed Joe

Tell me, where did you come from
Where did you go
Tell me, where did you come from
Cotton-eyed Joe

When you're feelin' down,
Feelin' kind of low
Need a little needle now,
To get you through the show

Tell me, where did you come from
Where did you go
Tell me, where did you come from
Cotton-eyed Joe

Instrumental outro

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 24 Jun 09 - 07:04 AM

I am surprised no one has discovered the possible explanation for cotton-eyed to mean drunk, or made blind from moonshine, a known side affect from that kind of alcohol.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: Amos
Date: 17 Jan 09 - 11:17 AM

Wikipedias, unusually, has an article on the song. It says, inter alia,

"The precise origins of this song are unclear, although it predates the American Civil War[1]. One version was recorded by folklorist Dorothy Scarborough and published in 1925.[2][3]

Don't you remember, don't you know,
Don't you remember Cotton-eyed Joe?

Cotton-eyed Joe, Cotton-eyed Joe,
What did make you treat me so?

I'd 'a' been married forty year ago
Ef it had n't a-been for Cotton-eyed Joe!

Cotton-eyed Joe, Cotton-eyed Joe,
He was de nig dat sarved me so, ?

Tuck my gal away fum me,
Carried her off to Tennessee.

I'd 'a' been married forty year ago
Ef it had n't a-been for Cotton-eyed Joe.

Hi's teeth was out an' his nose was flat,
His eyes was crossed, ? but she did n't mind dat.

Kase he was tall, and berry slim,
An' so my gal she follered him.

I'd 'a' been married forty year ago
Ef it had n't a-been for Cotton-eyed Joe.

She was de prettiest gal to be found
Anywhar in de country round;

Her lips was red an' her eyes was bright,
Her skin was black but her teeth was white.

I'd 'a' been married forty year ago
Ef it had n't a-been for Cotton-eyed Joe.

Dat gal, she sho' had all my love,
An swore fum ne she'd never move,

But Joe hoodooed her, don't you see,
An' she run off wid him to Tennessee,
I'd 'a' been married forty years ago,
Ef it hadn't a-been for Cotton-eyed Joe."

Scarborough noted that the song seemed to be well known in the South prior to the Civil War, and parts of it had been sent in by various pesons.[4]

Over the years, many different versions of the song have been performed and/or recorded with many different versions of the lyrics (and many without lyrics). Cotton-eyed Joe, on occasion referred to as "the South Texas National Anthem", was played for minstrel-type jigs, and has long been popular as a square dance hoedown and a couple dance polka.[5] During the first half of the twentieth century the song was a widely known folk song all over English-speaking North America. One Discography lists 134 recorded versions released since 1950.[1] In more recent decades, the song has waned in popularity in most regions except some parts of the American South where it is still a popular folk song[6].

A list of the possible meanings of the term "cotton eyed" that have been proposed includes: to be drunk on moonshine, or to have been blinded by drinking wood alcohol, turning the eyes milky white; a black person with very light blue eyes; someone whose eyes were milky white from bacterial infections of Trachoma or syphilis, cataracts or glaucoma; and the contrast of dark skin tone around white eyeballs in black people. [7]
Bob Wills and Adolph Hofner and His San Antonians both recorded the song, and Hofner's version (Columbia 37658) apparently being the one that did the most to popularize the song.[8]

A 1967 instrumental version of the song (KIKR k202) by Al Dean, who recalled the song called "The Gingerbread Man" in South Texas, inspired a new round dance polka for couples. This dance was adapted into a simplified version as a nonpartner waist-hold, spoke line routine. Heel and toe polka steps were replaced with a cross-lift followed by a kick with two-steps. The lift and kick are sometimes accompanied by shouts of "whoops, whoops," or the barn yard term "bull shit", mimicking the act of kicking off barnyard muck.[9] The practice continues to this day.

The spoke line version gained popularity not only in Texas, but across the nation and overseas in the 1980s.[10]

Ray Benson of the Western Swing band Asleep at the Wheel talks about playing the Bob Wills version of "Cotton Eye Joe" in Texas in the 1970s, when the dance was very much alive. [2]

A Western "Craze" followed the 1980 release of Urban Cowboy. Dancers nationwide even dressed the part in cowboy boots, hats, and jeans. To accommodate the singles in attendance, creative Texans resurrected old nonpartner, spoke-line dances (such as "Cotton-eyed Joe") and invented new ones. They changed some of the formations from couple to spoke-lines and altered the steps to fit, so that lines made up of single dancers could link arms around each other's waists and prance or glide around the hall. [3]

The Bob Wills version of the song is still popular with dancers.
"Cotton Eye Joe", and its continued popularity in Texas, was referred to in the lyrics to Alabama's song "If You're Gonna Play in Texas." "I remember down in Houston we were puttin' on a show when a cowboy in the back stood up and yelled, "Cotton-Eyed Joe"!"
In April 2008 "Cotton-Eyed Joe" was used as the music for a Country Western group dance on the nationally broadcast show "Dancing with the Stars".

"Cotton-Eyed Joe" has been a standard during the seventh-inning stretch at Texas Rangers baseball games since the team moved to Texas in 1972. The Rednex version has been played at Yankee Stadium since the mid-90s during the seventh-inning stretch. Since late 2001, the song has been moved to the eighth inning to accommodate the playing and/or singing of God Bless America. During the song, a video on the Diamond Vision screen claiming to be "live from the control room" shows an individual identified as "Cotton Eye Joey" in a straw hat dancing along.

In Florida at the Bank Atlantic Center 2008-2009 During The Florida Panthers (Ice Hockey) Games while in between plays, They bring out a lone man dressed like a cowboy that dances to the song for the on looking fans when they are winning or tied. Bank Atlantic Center also plays the song with a blow up "mad" cow, named Mad by a large number of fans for when the Panthers are losing; they bring him out to get the fans going. When used they come out most of the time in the second period, but have been seen in the third, both aren't used every game.

"Cotton-Eyed Joe" was used for an act on America's Got Talent."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 17 Jan 09 - 08:57 AM

WARNING, X-RATED VERSION AHEAD.

Maybe the bawdy versions of "Cotton-Eyed Joe" can clarify some of the questions asked above? The Randolph-Legman Ozarks collection "Roll Me In Your Arms" gives the following from a Mr. E.W., Eureka Springs, Ark, 1949, from a dance-call version:

COTTON-EYE JOE

Long as a hoe, tough as a boot,
Gals all think he's terrible cute,
Where [did?] he come from, where did he go?
Never can tell about Cotton-Eye Joe.

All holler yes, never say no,
Gals line up for Cotton-Eye Joe,
All line up with a do-si-do,
Pull down (your) pants for Cotton-Eye Joe

Mammy (done) told me a long time ago,
Don't never monkey with Cotton-Eye Joe,
Gals all think he's terrible cute,
Watchin' for a chance to grab his old root.

I'd a been married long time ago
If I hadn't laid up with Cotton-Eye Joe.

That last couplet maybe explains why the difficulty getting to the altar. Could be VD, could be getting such a reputation nobody'd touch her (or him??) for marriage material.
Randolph-Legman also give a fragment from "a lady in Carroll County, Arkansas", 1952:

The biggest prick I ever saw
Growed right here in Arkansas,
Gals all a-playing high and low,
Took down their pants for Cotton-Eye Joe.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 17 Jan 09 - 08:37 AM

I'm guessing that in early days, say before 1940, there was a parallel tradition using "Cotton-Eyed Joe" as a lullaby.

The earliest example I know of is Burl Ives' early-1950s recorded version, mentioned briefly above. It is sung slowly, to a tune that is distinct from the various dance melodies for the song. If memory serves, Burl used only two verses:

Where did you come from, where did you go?
Where did you come from, old Cotton-eyed Joe?

Come for to see you, come for to sing,
Come for to show you my diamond ring.

It has a meditative, lullaby sound. It's also an odd match -- notice verse 2 only seems to answer verse 1; it really doesn't. As if the two were put together from different sources or even different songs.

I don't know Ives' source, though growing up in Jasper County, Illinois, he learned a fair number of songs from his grandmother. I haven't found any indication whether this may have been one of hers. I'd hoped I might find Burl'd written some comments about it, but unfortunately he didn't include it in his Burl Ives Song Book, nor elsewhere that I know of -- only on record, without notes.

The diamond ring verse isn't found in the dance versions until very late (like, after 1960), and probably did not originate there. It's not in any of the early printed versions I've seen—Talley, Scarborough, White, Lomax.

So:

1. Is Burl Ives the first known user of the "diamond ring" verse in this song? Wonder what its origin is? Anyone know?

2. Anyone know of any pre-1940 evidence for "Cotton Eyed Joe" as a lullaby?
(i.e. I'd like to narrow the question down to pre-1950 at the latest, excluding versions that came later)

3. Know of any other verses used in early lullaby versions?

4. In fact, what are the chances that "Cotton-Eyed Joe" in the Ives tradition might be a separate song that just happens to be about the same figure and share a first verse?

Real mystery, this! -- Bob


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 01:04 PM

Oombanjo, I agree. I always understood it to be a filmy eye, maybe from a cataract. If you've seen people with that sort of eye disease (it's rare now because so easily corrected), you would be very likely to describe it as a cotton eye. (Eye damage from misuse of household caustics can also produce that kind of look, I believe, though I'm no expert and could be wrong about this. Caustics were the cause of blindness for a good few rural people years back.

My, that Bugs Bunny clip is a good'un. I ask myself, how did Hollywood get hold of this old traditional song? Not sure who the soundtrack artist is, but it's a steam-powered version all right, and doesn't clearly derive from either of the commonly circulated pop versions of that era -- Burl Ives' or Bob Wills'.

I'm guessing the song turned up in California by way of a migrant musician, maybe an Okie but maybe not. There were a lot of people heading for Sunny Cal in those days to find fame and fortune, and California had a bushel of country artists who derived from the southeast, midwest and southwest.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: oombanjo
Date: 24 Dec 08 - 04:37 AM

I have often wondered if the words "cotton eyed joe" refer to having a white film over the eye ?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 23 Dec 08 - 04:21 PM

Wilson Douglas plays 'Cotton Eyed Joe'

Lester McCumbers plays 'Cotton Eyed Joe'


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: GUEST,Durango_Trucker
Date: 16 Sep 08 - 01:31 AM

the cotton eyed joe I am most familiar with and like is the Isaac Payton Sweat Version. For those who don't know, the fiddle is a must in this version and goes like this:

I'd been married a long time ago,
Had not have been for cotton eyed joe,
Where did ya come from where did ya go,
Where did ya come from Cotton eye joe.

Got a ball peen hammer and a two by four
Gonna whip the hell outta cotton eyed joe
Where did ya come from where did ya go,
Where did ya come from Cotton eye joe.

Now what'ya say?! (Bull Shit!!!)
Step in what?!   (Bull Shit!!!)
A little bit louder now (Bull Shit!!)
Aw the hell ya say!

Made himself a fiddle, made himself a bow,
mad a little tune called the cotton eyed joe.
Where did ya come from where did ya go,
Where did ya come from Cotton eye joe.

there are a couple more verses along with the interlude/refrain and it is usually played a little faster towards the end.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: balladeer
Date: 05 May 08 - 05:47 AM

I have my own a cappella version of Cotton Eyed Joe. It's slow, bluesy, and mournful. Paul Mills and I recorded it in 2000 on a CD called All the Good Times. These days, it's selling through iTunes Europe, but I still have some hard copies for ayone who'd like one. People love to sing along. It came down to me from Doug Bush, Nina Simone, and Josh White.

I,too, heard it recently on Dancing With the Stars. I loved that version as well. It's part of the fiddle-tune tradition, a little jazzed up for modern country-music fans. A touch of the Charlie Daniels sound. And why not keep adapting the song for different times and tastes? That way, it will live forever.

I make no apology for watching the dance shows. I'm a performer myself and I learn a lot from the work ethic of the dancers, especially the kids on So You Think You Can Dance?

I usually avoid anything on tv that did not originate with HBO, home of arguably the best films being made in the US today, but I do learn a lot from the dance shows - and from baseball, of course! Baseball teaches me everything I need to know about the ups and downs of life.

Balladeer


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 22 Apr 08 - 12:33 AM

Just saw and heard the worst ever version of Cotton-Eyed Joe on 'Dancing With the Stars' - don't ask me why I was watching, it was an accident.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 28 Mar 08 - 07:46 PM

For the long answer, read through the thread.

Short answer: noone knows!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Mar 08 - 06:12 PM

who is the original artist of the song? Who was the first to sing it?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: GUEST,Buster
Date: 29 Jan 08 - 09:08 AM

I have to be honest...it really irritates me when someone makes a blanket statement about such a great song. This thread started with someone saying that this song has racist origins. I think it's clear from all of the responses that no one knows for sure WHAT exactly the origins of this song are and that's what makes it all the more beautiful.

I grew up in eastern Kentucky and this song was a part of my childhood. The term "Cotton Eyed Joe" we always assumed referred to a very good looking guy with light blue eyes that whipped into town, stole girls hearts and dissapeared.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: katlaughing
Date: 26 Jan 08 - 11:03 PM

LMAO, thanks Mr. Happy!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: GUEST,Angel
Date: 26 Jan 08 - 10:52 PM

The True original verson of this song dates a long way back and it is not actually recorded who wrote it how ever you can look at these few places and do a little reading you will find that a black woman and/or man once sang the song so there is no prejudice in it do your research and read!
www.luckymojo.com/bluescottoneyedjoeunknown.html    (INFO)

http://www.high-priestess.com/cottoneyedjoe    (Woman singing plus lyrics)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: GUEST,rogmc
Date: 25 Jan 08 - 03:30 PM

I had heard in Missouri, back around 1960 that the term Cotton-eye referred to someone whose eye color was blue or light. I don't think it means anything exotic like a rare eye disease. I thought that cotton-eye along with towheaded
were old-timey descriptive words.

--rogmc


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 04 Dec 07 - 11:53 AM

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=cHQZBXJxCbA


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: GUEST,Dadsfolk
Date: 31 Oct 07 - 11:03 PM

Entertaining thread. Many useful references, but reminds me of Mark Twain's observations about science - a massive return in speculation for a trifling investment of fact! :-)

Given that it was widely enough known to be used in the Saturday Evening Post in 1875, and for everyone to jump on when recording in the '20s, it's a bit surprising to me that there's no printed version in sheet music or song sheets in the American Memory collection. Perhaps it was *too* widely known?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Oct 07 - 01:28 PM

Read the threads linked above and all will be explained (more or less).


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: GUEST,SCWV
Date: 27 Oct 07 - 12:59 PM

What is the race of Cotton-Eye Joe? My guess is that he is of mixed race. I keep thinking he is black, despite all the redneck allusions in some versions, but Cotton-Eyed indicates that he is a white person. I guess it can't be Underground Railroad after all.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: GUEST,SCWV
Date: 27 Oct 07 - 12:47 PM

The Josh White version doesn't sound racist at all. The way he sings it & listening to the lyrics makes me think that it might be an Underground Railroad song, although I have not conferred this notion of mine with research.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: GUEST,T-Bone
Date: 27 Oct 07 - 10:47 AM

I am amazed that no one has seen the conection between some of the lyrics in this "fiddle" tune, and "The Devil went Down to Georgia".


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: GUEST,Leonard Powell
Date: 08 Oct 07 - 06:40 PM

I have heard the song,but what I want to know is who is (cotton Eyed Joe)I have heard the song all my life, but only recently it has come to me.Was he a traveling salesman, or did he just go around getting women pregnant. There has to be a story somewhere that provaked this sons. email me at
LPowell32@cfl.rr.com


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 29 May 07 - 06:41 PM

Cotton Eyed Joe dance steps from the website of the Folk Dance Federation


And two from the Wolf Folklore Collection . . . .

Cotton Eye Joe Sung by: Gus Mahon (with instrumental accompaniment); Recorded in Heber Springs, AR.

Eighteen, nineteen, twenty years ago,
. . . run away with Cotton Eye Joe.

Had not a-been for Cotton Eye Joe,
I'd been married a long time ago.

Hold my fiddle and a-hold my bow,
Gonna beat the devil out of Cotton Eye Joe.

(Fiddle Tune: "Tennessee Wagner")


Best Old Fiddle (Cotton-Eyed Joe) Sung by: W.P. Detherow
Recorded in Batesville, AR, 7/19/52

The best old fiddle and the best old bow,
The best old fiddle in the countee-o.

My old fiddle is made of wood,
The best old fiddle in the neighborhood.

Your old fiddle is made of pine,
The best old fiddle exceptin' mine.

Homemade sugar and a puncheon floor,
I spend my money and I work for more.

Tune up a fiddle and I rosin up a bow,
And I knocked darnation out of Cotton-Eyed Joe.

I'd been married six or seven years ago,
T'hadn't a-been for Cotton-Eyed Joe.

Wanted to go to meeting and they wouldn't let me go,
And I had to stay at home with Cotton-Eyed Joe.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: balladeer
Date: 06 May 07 - 01:05 AM

I recorded Cotton Eyed Joe on my debut CD, All the Good Times, released in 2001. A two-mnute clip can be heard on my CD Baby web site. If you hear echoes of Josh White or Nina Simone in my reading, it's because I loved what they each did with the song and was probably inspired by them. Joanne Crabtree


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: GUEST,Michelle MAC
Date: 05 May 07 - 11:35 PM

Its about an STD he cought from some of the girls they all were shareing now he can't get married because he's got the drips sometimes


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: open mike
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 11:59 AM

there is a link to a recording of this
sung by Dodie Kallick in the 1960's
posted by BK Lick (Dodie's husband,
if i am not mistaken, in her obit
thread--April 2007)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 03:49 AM

As Q said , there are too many people looking for all sorts of interpretations of lyrics . Some of us have even less reason for posting ! Mine is :-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 16 Apr 07 - 03:28 PM

Cotton Eyed Joe

Lyrics as sung by King Family in Visalia, 1941.

Where did you come from
Where did you go
Where did you come from
Cotton Eyed Joe?

I come from the city
I come for to show
Come from a place
Called cotton Eyed Joe

Cotton Eyed Joe had a new suit of clothes
Nobody knows where he got them clothes

Went to the country
Went to the show
Stuffed my gut
Full of sweet cake dough

Cotton Eyed Joe had a new suit of clothes
Nobody knows where he got them clothes

And here's the Ballad Index entry . . .

Cotton-Eyed Joe
DESCRIPTION: "If it hadn't been for Cotton-eyed Joe, I'd have been married a long time ago." "Where did you come from, where did you go...." Stanzas describe country life, fiddle playing, and attempts to outshine Cotton-eyed Joe
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1927 (recording, Dyke's Magic City Trio)
KEYWORDS: fiddle music nonballad
FOUND IN: US(SE)
REFERENCES (5 citations):
BrownIII 104, "Page's Train Run So Fast" (1 text)
Scarborough-NegroFS, pp. 69-70, "Cotton-Eyed Joe" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-ABFS, pp. 262-263, "Cotton-Eyed Joe" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 35, "Cotton-Eyed Joe" (1 text)
DT, COTTNEYE*
Roud #942
RECORDINGS:
Arthur "Brother-in-Law" Armstrong, "Cotton-Eyed Joe" (AFS 3979 B2, 1940)
Granville Bowlen, "Cotton Eyed Joe" [instrumental] (on MMOK, MMOKCD)
Fiddlin' John Carson, "Cotton Eyed Joe" (OKeh 45122, 1927)
Carter Brothers and Son, "Cotton-Eyed Joe" (Vocalion 5349, 1929; on GoingDown)
Dyke's Magic City Trio, "Cotton-Eyed Joe" (Brunswick 120, 1927)
Spud Gravely & Glen Smith, "Cotton Eye Joe" (on HalfCen1)
New Lost City Ramblers, "Cotton-Eye Joe" (on NLCR10)
Elmo Newcomer, "Cotton Eyed Joe" (Cromart 101, n.d. but prob. mid-1930s)
Pope's Arkansas Mountaineers, "Cotton-Eyed Joe" (Victor 21469, 1928)
Bookmiller Shannon, "Cotton-Eyed Joe" (on LomaxCD1707)
Gid Tanner & his Skillet Lickers, "Cotton-Eyed Joe" (Columbia 15283-D, 1928)
Art Thieme, "Cotton-Eyed Joe" (on Thieme03)
Bob Wills & his Texas Playboys, "Cotton-Eyed Joe" (Columbia 37212, c. 1947)
Notes: Primarily a fiddle tune, with the sort of chaotic words one would expect of such a piece. I assume "Cotton-Eyed Joe" stands for something, but I've never heard an explanation. - RBW
It's been suggested that Cotton-Eyed Joe was a local character who was blind due to cataracts or another eye disease such as trachoma. - PJS


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 16 Apr 07 - 02:50 PM

Here's a few recordings from American Memory . . . .

Cotton Eyed Joe performed by the King Family at Visalia FSA Camp, 2-9-41

Source: Voices From the Dust Bowl


Cotton Eyed Joe

Cotton Eyed Joe

Both performed by Elmo Newcomer near Pipe Creek, Bandera County, Texas, 5-3-39

Source: John and Ruby Lomax Southern States Recording Trip


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 16 Apr 07 - 12:42 AM

A great old tune it is.
People like to read more into a song than is there. A particular failing here at Mudcat.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: GUEST,Tary Morris
Date: 15 Apr 07 - 10:20 PM

My dad was a square dance caller back in the 70's and early 80's and this song was what was called a "Round Dance", similar to line dances in clubs. I dont recall any racism in the words that my dad used, and sometime he would just let the record play with no words. I know this doesnt help anyone in the research of this song but it has been fun to read the threads. BTW does anyone know where i can get an intrumental version of this song. Preferably folk sound Rednex version is good but the old tune sounds so great!!

Thanks,

Tary


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: GUEST,Mizu
Date: 03 Mar 07 - 06:09 PM

I'm sure this has already been thrown out there but...

I found the most simplestic answer to be that (ruling out the racism) Joe was a "worker" and his "boss" made him dance for entertainment. Well... He became a good dancer and all the women loved him... The "boss" proposed to a woman with a diamond ring but she did not love him beacuse he was an... An ass to his "workers" and she ended up running of with him, hince the lyrics "If it haden't been for Cotton-Eyed Joe then I'd be married a long time ago".

Uh... Yeah...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: Wordsmith
Date: 09 Feb 07 - 01:08 AM

This is quite a thread. I must admit I never paid attention to most of the words of the version I heard which had to be more recent, maybe the Rednex version, because I was too busy laughing while stumbling over my feet trying to learn the line dance my friends were teaching me. I found the melody to be quite pleasant, but fast. Wish I'd paid more attention, but from what I've read from top to bottom, I'd have to agree that someone got jilted (because his gal ran off with Cotton Eyed Joe) or at the very least dumped because of him. I never knew it was such an old song. Thanks for the history lesson. I loved it.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 04 Feb 07 - 04:54 PM

Some seventeen versions of Cotton-eyed Joe at Bluegrass Messengers:
Bluegrass



(I think square dancers, following the orders of a 'caller' while the fiddle band is doing its stuff, can dance to it.
This is something I have stayed away from, so no help here- only mis-direction)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: Azizi
Date: 04 Feb 07 - 03:24 PM

Hello GUEST,chloe!

From reading a version of "Cotton Eye Joe" that I have from 1922 {Thomas W. Talley "Negro Folk Rhymes"} my guess is that the individual dance steps that were done would have names that are no longer familiar to people nowadays. But it seems that the dances were performed with onlookers standing around in a circle watching couples {man/woman} dance together. In a couple of songs there are references to swinging your partner and wheeling and turning.

Some instrumental tunes and songs became associated with certain movements {dance steps} and so people would say that they were dancing "Cotton Eyed Joe". But I would imagine that the dance steps could be used for other tunes and songs too, just like today with the "Chicken Noodle Soup" song and its dance movements. Or since many of these 19th century dances had a person who called out which movements people would do, maybe it would be closer to say that "Cotton Eye Joe" was more like the instructional dance songs & social dances such as the dancehall reggae song "Pon Di River (Pon Di Bank)" by Elephant Man.

Maybe the dances that people did way back when were something like USA square dances or country dances.

If you can get YouTube, click on this video for an example of a square dance done to the song "Jingle Bell Rock".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=memvr99utdc

Best wishes,

Azizi

Btw, if anyone here knows any more about what Chloe is asking, I'd love to learn more about this and I don't mind being corrected.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: Duke
Date: 04 Feb 07 - 09:48 AM

I know the same version as Balladeer and I learned it from the same person (Doug Bush) that she did. He was an amazing musician and I wish I had not lost touch with him over the years.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: GUEST,chloe
Date: 04 Feb 07 - 09:08 AM

wat r the dance moves to the cotton eyed joe song i need them for my p.e lesson we r doin dancin


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: GUEST,tomtom1942
Date: 03 Feb 07 - 08:59 PM

About 1950 someone gave my aunt a old Victrolla with a stack of 78's. One of the songs was "Cotton eyed Joe" and the lyrics went something like this:
Way down south where the cotton grows high,
'ol (something,something)is quite a guy,
when he picks cotton, his eyes do shine,
dats why they call him cotton eyed joe.

Then the words:where did you come from, where did you go, etc
I have no idea who recorded this or when


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 26 Jan 07 - 11:36 PM

'cotton-eyed' appeared in "Dialect Notes" in 1905. Southern provenance.
Steinbeck used it in his novel, "East of Eden," 1952.

I have heard it off and on in both south and west.

Defined as having the whites of the eyes prominent.

(Posted before, I think this thread).
Reference- J. E. Lighter, Historical Dictionary of American Slang, vol. 1, p. 491.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: Arkie
Date: 26 Jan 07 - 11:21 PM

This is certainly an example of a song that has survived a long time in many different forms because it holds some appeal and not because of popular recordings.   I think that the main reason for the appeal is the tune and almost anything can be thrown in for a verse.   If the term "cotton eyed" ever had wide usuage there seems to be no record of it. From the version I learned from Albert it seemed like Joe may have had problems with vision, and someone had to stay home and look after him.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cotton-eyed Joe-true story/composite?
From: GUEST,cfizzle
Date: 26 Jan 07 - 02:25 PM

thank you for your help. i feel educated


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