Old Joe Clark
This is an online fiddle lesson for the tune "Old Joe Clark." BluegrassDaddy.com is your best source for Bluegrass, Old Time, Celtic, Gospel, and Country fiddle lessons!
Genre: Bluegrass, Old Time
Skill Level: Beginner, Intermediate
Key of A
This lesson is free!
You may download and use any of the MP3s and tablature for your personal use. However, please do not make them available online or otherwise distribute them.
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Video #1: Here is a video of me performing the beginner version of the fiddle tune "Old Joe Clark."
Video #2: Here is a video of me performing the intermediate version of the fiddle tune "Old Joe Clark."
Tablature for the Intermediate Version (1 page, PDF)
Notation for the Intermediate Version (1 page, PDF)
Video #3: Here is a measure-by-measure fiddle lesson for the beginner version of "Old Joe Clark."
Video #4: Here is the beginner version of "Old Joe Clark," with the metronome at 60 bpm.
Video #5: Here is a measure-by-measure fiddle lesson for the intermediate version of "Old Joe Clark."
Video #6: Here is the intermediate version of "Old Joe Clark," with the metronome at 50 bpm.
Video #7: Here is the intermediate version of "Old Joe Clark," played slowly at 80 bpm.
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Tracks with my fiddle on them:
Performance tracks at different speeds:
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