“Cotton-Eyed Joe”


"If it hadn't been for Cotton-eyed Joe, I'd have been married a long time ago." "Where did you come from, where did you go...." Stanzas describe country life, fiddle playing, and attempts to outshine Cotton-eyed Joe


Primarily a fiddle tune, with the sort of chaotic words one would expect of such a piece. I assume "Cotton-Eyed Joe" stands for something, but I've never heard an explanation. - RBW

It's been suggested that Cotton-Eyed Joe was a local character who was blind due to cataracts or another eye disease such as trachoma. - PJS


  • Arthur "Brother-in-Law" Armstrong, "Cotton-Eyed Joe" (AFS 3979 B2, 1940)
  • Granville Bowlen, "Cotton Eyed Joe" [instrumental] (on MMOK, MMOKCD)
  • Fiddlin' John Carson, "Cotton Eyed Joe" (OKeh 45122, 1927)
  • Carter Brothers and Son, "Cotton-Eyed Joe" (Vocalion 5349, 1929; on GoingDown)
  • Dyke's Magic City Trio, "Cotton-Eyed Joe" (Brunswick 120, 1927)
  • Spud Gravely & Glen Smith, "Cotton Eye Joe" (on HalfCen1)
  • New Lost City Ramblers, "Cotton-Eye Joe" (on NLCR10)
  • Elmo Newcomer, "Cotton Eyed Joe" (CroMart 101, n.d. but prob. late 1940s - early 1950s)
  • Pope's Arkansas Mountaineers, "Cotton-Eyed Joe" (Victor 21469, 1928)
  • Bookmiller Shannon, "Cotton-Eyed Joe" (on LomaxCD1707)
  • Gid Tanner & his Skillet Lickers, "Cotton-Eyed Joe" (Columbia 15283-D, 1928)
  • Art Thieme, "Cotton-Eyed Joe" (on Thieme03)
  • Bob Wills & his Texas Playboys, "Cotton-Eyed Joe" (Columbia 37212, c. 1947)


  1. BrownIII 104, "Page's Train Run So Fast" (1 text)
  2. Scarborough-NegroFS, pp. 69-70, "Cotton-Eyed Joe" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Lomax-ABFS, pp. 262-263, "Cotton-Eyed Joe" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Silber-FSWB, p. 35, "Cotton-Eyed Joe" (1 text)
  6. Roud #942
  7. BI, LxA262


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1927 (recording, Dyke's Magic City Trio)
Keywords: fiddle music nonballad
Found in: US(SE)