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Old Joe Clark Fiddle Lesson

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Published on Jun 14, 2014

This is a video of me playing "Old Joe Clark" live. I also give a sample of the metronome, fiddle lesson and slow play you will find at BluegrassDaddy.com. Hedy West sang the American old-timey song Old Joe Clark in 1965 on her Topic album Old Times and Hard Times. She commented in the album's sleeve notes: Before the railways, automobiles and mail order houses brought the town to the country, before television, radio and gramophone brought "instant music" into the home, the play-party was a natural solution to the problem of self-made social amusement, in communities where religious feelings were so strong that dances were generally proscribed but dancing-games permitted to the young. A favourite dance-game was Old Joe Clark with its melody based on the minstrel show tune of Lucy Long, and its text made up of floating verses borrowed from sundry other play-party songs such as Ida Red, Shady Grove, Cindy, Liza Jane, Bile dem Cabbage Down, Sally Ann, and others. Of the verses of Old Joe Clark, one Indiana farmer said: "There's thousands of 'em. Everyone has his own version." Scholars set the number more modestly at 144. Old Joe Clark is one of the songs Uncle Gus Mulkey used to play on the fiddle when his fingers were still nimble. Kim Mulkey had disapproved and pretended not to know of his son's fiddle playing till he began to her Gus playing religious tunes. Kim Mulkey's fundamentalist religion placed native song and the instruments they were played on as being in league with the devil. (mainlynorfolk.info)

Old Joe Clark

Verse 1:
I went down to Old Joe Clark
Found him sick in bed
Stuck my finger down his throat
Pulled out a chicken head
Old Joe Clark he had a house
15 stories high
Every story in that house
Was filled with chicken pies

Chorus:
Fare thee well, old Joe Clarke
Fare thee well, I'm gone
Fare thee well Old Joe Clark
Goodbye Lucy Long
Fare thee well, old Joe Clarke
Fare thee well, I say
He'd follow me ten thousand miles
To hear my fiddle play

Verse 2:
Old Joe Clark is mad at me
I'll tell you the reason why
I ran through his cabbage patch
And ate his chicken pie.
He puts my fiddle in my hand
And tells me what to play
Then dances on the kitchen floor
Until the break of day

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