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Cotton-Eyed Joe

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Cotton-Eyed Joe
Cotton-Eyed-Joe-sheet-music-page 33515-1-1

Real Name

Joe

First Appearance

Unknown

Created by

Unknown

Origin

"Cotton-Eyed Joe" is a popular American country song known at various times throughout the United States and Canada, although today it is most commonly associated with the American South.

The origins of this song are unclear, although it pre-dates the 1861–1865 American Civil War. American folklorist, Dorothy Scarborough (1878–1935). noted in her 1925 book On the Trail of Negro Folk-Songs, that several people remember hearing the song before the war and her sister, Mrs. George Scarborough, learned the song from a man who had known the song during his earliest childhood from slaves singing it on plantations in Louisiana. Both the dance and the song had as many variants as the old old folk song that it is. American publishing house, Harper and Brothers, published a version in 1882, heard by author Louise Clarke Pyrnelle (born 1850) on the Alabama plantation of her father when she was a child, that was later republished in 1910:

"Cotton-eyed Joe, Cotton-eyed Joe,
What did make you sarve me so,
Fur ter take my gal erway fum me,
An' cyar her plum ter Tennessee?
Ef it hadn't ben fur Cotton-eyed Joe,
I'd er been married long ergo.
"His eyes wuz crossed, an' his nose wuz flat,
An' his teef wuz out, but wat uv dat?
Fur he wuz tall, an' he wuz slim,
An' so my gal she follered him.
Ef it hadn't ben fur Cotton-eyed Joe,
I'd er been married long ergo.
"No gal so hansum could be foun',
Not in all dis country roun',
Wid her kinky head, an' her eyes so bright,
Wid her lips so red an' her teef so white.
Ef it hadn't ben fur Cotton-eyed Joe,
I'd been married long ergo.
"An* I loved dat gal wid all my heart,
An' she swo' fum me she'd never part;
But den wid Joe she runned away,
An' lef' me hyear fur ter weep all day.
O Cotton-eyed Joe, O Cotton-eyed Joe,
What did make you sarve me so?
O Joe, ef it hadn't er ben fur you,
I'd er married dat gal fur true."

By 1884, the same year Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published, the fiddle based song was referred to as "an old, familiar air."

Notes

  • Although the song is in the public domain, any modern-day recorded versions (such as by the Rednex) are NOT.

See Also

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