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Old Joe Clark is a folk song, a mountain ballad that was "sung during World War I and later by soldiers from eastern Kentucky."[1] An early version was printed in 1918, as sung in Virginia at that time.[1] Joe Clark was born in 1839,[1][2] a mountaineer who was murdered in 1885.[1] There are about 90 stanzas in various versions of the song.[1] The tune is in mixolydian mode.[3]


\new ChordNames {
   \set chordChanges = ##t
   a4 a4 |%1
   a4 a4 |%2
   a4 a4 |%3
   e4 e4 |%4

   a4 a4 |%5
   a4 a4 |%6
   a4 e4 |%7
   a4 a4 |%8

   a4 a4 |%9
   a4 a4 |%10
   a4 a4 |%11
   g4 g4 |%12
   a4 a4 |%13
   a4 a4 |%14
   a4 g4 |%15
   a4 a4 |%16
\new Staff \relative c''{
\time 2/4
\key a \mixolydian
\repeat volta 2 { %start repeat
   e8 fis8 g8 fis8   |%1
   e8 d cis e16 e    |%2
   e8 fis g fis      |%3
   e4 e4             |%4
   e8 fis8 g fis     |%5
   e8 d8 cis4        |%6
   a8 a16 a b a gis8 |%7
   a4 a              |%8
  } %end repeat


  \repeat volta 2 { %start repeat
   a4 a              |%9
   e'8 d cis4        |%10
   a4 a              |%11
   b4 b              |%12
   a4 a              |%13
   e'8 d cis4        |%14
   a8 cis b g        |%15
   a4 a              |%16



The song has been recorded by many artists including:

Modern Adaptations[edit]

The melody was adapted by Mojo Nixon, Jello Biafra, and the Toadliquors for "Let's Go Burn Old Nashville Down" for the Prairie Home Invasion album. On guitarist Pat Metheny's "80/81" album, bassist Charlie Haden quotes from the melody of "Old Joe Clark" during his solo on "Two Folk Songs 1st | 2nd."


  1. ^ a b c d e "Old Joe Clark Ballad". Historical Marker #1382. Kentucky Historical Society, Kentucky Department of Highways. 1970. Retrieved 2008-08-26. 
  2. ^ Clark, Lisa. "Old Joe Clark Biography". The Rosinators. Retrieved 2008-08-26. 
  3. ^ Anthony, Wendy (February 2007). "Building a Traditional Tune Repertoire: Old Joe Clark". Mandolin Sessions (Mel Bay Publications). Retrieved 2008-08-26. 
  4. ^ Brody, David (1983). The Fiddler's Fake Book. New York: Oak Publications. p. 207. ISBN 978-0-8256-0238-2. 
  5. ^ Building a Traditional Tune Repertoire by Wendy Anthony

External links[edit]


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6 news items

Brantford Expositor

Brantford Expositor
Wed, 23 Apr 2014 18:41:15 -0700

All five players were front and centre soloists on an instrumental piece, Old Joe Clark. While speaking with Mackay, who lives in Mount Pleasant, I discovered that much of his life was spent living in Sault Ste. Marie, where he performed with his ...
Marietta Times
Wed, 23 Apr 2014 01:15:00 -0700

In addition, the chorus will present arrangements of the folk songs "Old Joe Clark' and "Polly Wolly Doodle", the swing tune "Tuxedo Junction" and a patriotic medley "The Spirit of Freedom". Also included on the concert will be the traditional Swahili ...
North Platte Telegraph
Wed, 23 Apr 2014 01:01:47 -0700

If you're a fellow member of the loyal crowd in North Platte, you probably remember the year that little girl clog danced to “Old Joe Clark.'' And the cold rainy night when a version of “Amazing Grace'' brought the place to a standstill. And how about ...


Sun, 20 Apr 2014 20:56:15 -0700

There were also rowdy covers of Lefty Frizzell's “If You've Got the Money I've Got the Time,” John Denver's “Thank God I'm a Country Boy” and traditional mountain song “Old Joe Clark” – the last two with a little help from Sam Bush, on fiddle. The old ...
Middletown Press and Journal
Tue, 15 Apr 2014 12:35:04 -0700

The 150-voice choir included top elementary school vocalists from central Pennsylvania. Among the selections performed: “Kookaburra,'' “Old Joe Clark'' and “This Little Light of Mine.'' The choir was directed by Melissa Malvar-Keylock, the choral ...
Thu, 10 Apr 2014 08:35:00 -0700

Und auch "Old Joe Clark" ging dem Nachwuchs gut von der Hand. Eine echte Meisterleistung präsentierte dagegen Sebastian Jakob. Der Zehntklässler hatte mit dem Percussionensemble den legendären Säbeltanz von Aram Chatschaturjan einstudiert und ...

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