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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.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.

187 news items

Gazette Live

Gazette Live
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 02:22:30 -0700

Billingham youngster Joe Clark has been named in the England youth squad for the second season in succession. The 15-year-old player, a pupil at Northfield School, is in the development group, consisting of 17 players. The squad is completed by a ...

Farmington Daily Times

Farmington Daily Times
Wed, 07 Oct 2015 21:07:26 -0700

On its most recent disc, 2015's appropriately titled “With a Lampshade On,” the group starts off with the hard-core newgrass of “Lampshade On” before gliding seamlessly into smoky R&B with “Hey Baby” and “Old Joe Clark,” Cajun fiddle territory on ...
San Jose Mercury News
Thu, 01 Oct 2015 17:45:00 -0700

Songs on the Cabrillo set list included: "Liza Jane," "Angelina Baker," "Old Joe Clark," "Susannah Gal" and "I'll Fly Away." A Daly City native, Katz began his teaching career at Cabrillo Elementary nine years ago. The first seven of those years he ...
The Willits News
Wed, 30 Sep 2015 08:56:15 -0700

The entertainers included a fiddler playing classic folk songs like “Old Joe Clark” and the vocal stylings of Jim Cardwell. Advertisement. In the genre of cowboy poetry, Cardwell told a story in verse of two Iowan brothers who moved in 1967 to work on ...

Asheville Citizen-Times

Asheville Citizen-Times
Tue, 29 Sep 2015 05:44:23 -0700

From Lee Wallin he learned “Shout Little Lulu,” others learned in Shelton Laurel include “Ragtime Annie,” “Golden Slippers,” “Old Joe Clark,” “Soldiers Joy,” “Cripple Creek” and “Polly Put the Kettle On.” “Snowbird” came to him from the playing of ...


Thu, 17 Sep 2015 22:33:05 -0700

They participate in the BITS program that seeks to enrich the lives of students by introducing and teaching bluegrass music and instruments. Smith played dulcimer for the folk song, "Old Joe Clark," and Geary played mandolin for "Blue Moon of Kentucky.".

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 ...


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

The 80th Galax Old Fiddlers' Convention begins next Monday, August 3. On day two, Tuesday, of this year's week long convention, hundreds of musicians will attempt to assemble the world's largest mandolin ensemble.

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