BLUES LYRICS and HOODOO:

SUPPLEMENTARY TRANSCRIPTIONS

from HOODOO IN THEORY AND PRACTICE
by catherine yronwode




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TITLE: Cotton-Eyed Joe
MATRIX NO.: none
SINGER: unknown [collected in Texas and Louisiana]
COMPOSER(S): unknown
DATE OF REC.: none
ORIGINAL ISSUE(S): none
REISSUE(S): none
TRANSCRIPTION:
COTTON-EYED JOE
[uncredited]

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!

His 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 me 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 year ago
Ef it had n't a-been for Cotton-eyed Joe!
TRANSCRIBED BY: Dorothy Scarborough prior to 1925

PRINTED TRANSCRIPTION: Dorothy Scarborough, "On the Trail of Negro Folk-Songs," Cambridge (MA), Harvard University Press, 1925

CONTRIBUTED BY: John Garst (garst@chem.uga.edu)

WEB PAGE CITATION: Catherine Yronwode: Hoodoo in Theory and Practice:
Hoodoo History

COMMENTS BY CAT YRONWODE: This song was field-collected prior to 1925, but no recording was made of this version.

COMMENTS BY ALAN BALFOUR (abalfour@dial.pipex.com): Here's Scarborough's preface to the song, which follows a version of "Massa Had A Yalla Gal," hence the initial reference back:
A less comely person of a different sex is celebrated or anathematized in another song, which seems to be fairly well known in the South, as parts of it have been sent in by various persons. According to the testimony of several people who remember events before the [Civil] war, this is an authentic slavery-time song. The air and some of the words were given to me by my sister, Mrs. George Scarborough, as learned from the Negroes on a plantation in Texas, and other parts by an old man in Louisiana, who sang it to the same tune. He said he had known it from his earliest childhood and had heard the slaves sing it on plantations. A version was also sent by a writer whose pen name is Virginia Stait.
(p.68. song transcription pps.69-70)

As a point of interest Lomax recorded a couple of versions for the Library of Congress:
Unidentified Singer and Group, Texas (exact location not noted) June-July 1933

Arthur "Brother In Law" Armstrong, High School Auditorium, Jasper, Texas 3rd Oct 1940
The only commercial "blues" version I can think of off the top of my head is probably those recorded by Josh White in 1950s. What resemblance they bear to Scarborough's is another matter.

FURTHER INFORMATION: The following web pages can be consulted for more details about the topics referenced in this song:
V.1 hoodoo


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Individual acknowledgements for transcriptions and discographical data appear on each song-page, but i want to note that this Blues Lyrics and Hoodoo archive would never have been possible without the contributions of Gorgen Antonsson, who generously shared with me the format and content of his own personal lyrics archive, and Alan Balfour and Chris Smith, who have devoted a great deal of time to supplying me with tapes, transcribed lyrics, and detailed discographical information. Additionally, i wish to thank the kind members of the prewar blues e-list who have aided my research in innumerable ways. If you have missing data to supply, hear a substantially different take on a transcription, or want to let me know about a song that has been overlooked in these pages, please contact me through the prewar blues e-list: http://www.groups.yahoo.com/group/pre-war-blues.


COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Due to certain social, economic, and political paradigms in place at the time of their composition, many early blues songs were improperly copyrighted or not copyrighted at all. Many bore no composer credits. Many were ripped off by unethical music publishers who falsely claimed authorship and copyrighted them in their own names. Many that were once copyright-protected are now in the public domain due to publishers' or composers' failures to properly renew the copyrights. Many have since been ripped off by unethical performers or music publishers who have pretended to be the composers for the purpose of securing a belated copyright or who have claimed "arranger's" credits on songs they falsely swore were "traditional" when in fact the songs were composed by the people who originally performed them on record. It is my sincere belief that the song transcribed on this page bears the implied moral copyright of its composer, whoever that may be. If you believe that you control the copyright by virtue of authorship or legal legerdemain, you may contact me in a civil and polite manner and i will attempt in good faith to satisfy your needs in the matter of obtaining formal permission to quote the lyrics in this scholarly publication.

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