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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." Haden had also quoted from the song in his earlier solo in Ornette Coleman's "Ramblin'" (from 1960's Change of the Century), and the same unmistakable riff shows up as well in Haden's solo bass performance "Taney County" (on Haden's 1987 Quartet West album). Haden's preoccupation with the song is evident, too, on Rambling Boy (a reference to the 1960 Coleman song...?), the 2008 album credited to "Charlie Haden Family & Friends"; on this great collection of collaborative interpretations of standards, it's none other than Jack Black who takes the lead singing "Old Joe Clark." The riff of Ian Dury's 1977 single "Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll" originates from "Old Joe Clark".


  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. ^
  6. ^ Building a Traditional Tune Repertoire by Wendy Anthony

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Joe_Clark — Please support Wikipedia.
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158 news items


Tue, 28 Jul 2015 11:49:22 -0700

2:46. Tim Thornton reports. Sound: “One, two, three, play.” (followed by hundreds of mandolins playing “Old Joe Clark.”) That is the sound of 389 mandolins playing “Old Joe Clark” in the grandstands at Felts Park, home of The Galax Old Fiddlers ...


Mon, 27 Jul 2015 00:15:22 -0700

One travels from the moors to the bayou to the Blue Ridge in the space of three minutes during their dervish-like performance of “Old Joe Clark”. Follow up “Feels Good” opens with a riff straight out of Velvet Underground's Loaded before sweeping horns ...
Fri, 24 Jul 2015 10:22:48 -0700

So she actually played a tune 'Old Joe Clark,' which is the same song I play on the movie 'Where the Red Fern Grows,'” said Carl. “That was the only time I've heard her play.” He got a guitar when he was 6 or 7. It had a warped neck, so he played it ...


Tue, 21 Jul 2015 11:56:15 -0700

“Bright Lights” even evokes a tango-inspired groove as opposed to “Old Joe Clark” and its unapologetic raucous two-step country flare or string band-heavy “Ballad of the Bellhop.” The album is chock full of instrumental features in the string band/jazz ...

Lexington Herald Leader

Lexington Herald Leader
Thu, 02 Jul 2015 06:34:23 -0700

Bluegrass returns to Renfro Valley Entertainment Center this weekend by way of the Old Joe Clark Bluegrass Festival. Friday features The Cleverlys, Little Roy and Lizzy, The Moron Brothers, Southland Drive and Wilderness Trail. Saturday adds in Junior ...

Mail Tribune

Mail Tribune
Tue, 26 May 2015 11:41:14 -0700

Old Joe Clark, the inspiration for a fiddle tune from the 1800s, is described on a historical marker in Kentucky as "a shiftless and rough mountaineer." "His enemies were legion; he was murdered in 1885," the state marker reads. "It mischaracterizes ...


Sun, 15 Mar 2015 15:18:45 -0700

For months, “Y&R' spoilers teased that Joe Clark may have a connection to Matt Clark. At one time, it was rumored that Austin was Joe's biological son. Fans will finally see what the relationship is starting this week. Soap Central reported on Sunday ...

Mexico Ledger

Mexico Ledger
Fri, 12 Jun 2015 10:48:45 -0700

Other Miss Missouri contestants in the talent competition were: Miss Midland Empire Carolyn Koepping who performed a baton twirling routine to “Any Way You Want It,” Miss Joplin Rebecca Helton who played the fiddle to “Old Joe Clark,” Miss Crowder ...

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