Posted on Posted in Breedloves's Folk Songs
The precise origins of this song are unclear, although it predates the American Civil War.
Over the years, many different versions of the song have been performed and/or recorded
with many different versions of the lyrics (and many without lyrics). Cotton-eyed Joe, on
occasion referred to as “the South Texas National Anthem”, was played for minstrel-type
jigs, and has long been popular as a square dance hoedown and a couple dance polkas.
During the first half of the twentieth century the song was a widely known folk song all
over English-speaking North America.
One Discography lists 134 recorded versions released since 1950. In more recent
decades, the song has waned in popularity in most regions except some parts of the
American South where it is still a popular folk song. A list of the possible meanings of the
term “cotton eyed” that have been proposed includes: to be drunk on moonshine, or to
have been blinded by drinking wood alcohol, turning the eyes milky white; a black
person with very light blue eyes; someone whose eyes were milky white from bacterial
infections of Trachoma or syphilis, cataracts or Glaucoma; and the contrast of dark skin
tone around white eyeballs in black people.
If it hadn’t been for cotton-eye joe
I’d been married long time ago
Where did you come from. where did you go?
Where did you come from cotton-eye joe?
He came to town like a midwinter storm
He rode through the fields so
Handsome and strong
His eyes was his tools and his smile was his gun
But all he had come for was having some fun
(repeat intro)
He brought disaster wherever he went
The hearts of the girls was to hell broken sent
They all ran away so nobody would know
And left only men cause of cotton-eye joe
(repeat intro