Rock the Cradle, Joe (Key of D)

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This lesson was taught by our friend Cecil Gurganus when he visited us at fiddle camp one evening.

Genre: Old-Time
Skill Level: Intermediate

Rock the Cradle Joe (1 page, PDF)

Rock the Cradle Joe is an old-time tune, perhaps descended from "Rock the Cradle, John" which was licensed by Laurence Price in 1631 in England. Alternate titles include "The Humours of the Priest's House," "Miss Johnson," "Miss Johnson of Houghton Hall," "The Muster Bank," "The Mountainy Man, and “Rocking the Cradle." It is also related to the 'B' of "Sally Ann.”

This version was taught by Cecil Gurganus of Watauga County, NC, at my free Fiddle Camp. It is in the tradition of of J.W. “Babe” Spangler of Meadows of Dan, Virginia, who recorded it in the late 1940’s. The following ditty is sometimes sung to the tune in old-time tradition:

(A) Can't get up, can't get up,
Can't get up in the morning;
What we gonna do if the baby cries?
Rock the cradle Joe.

(B) Rock the cradle, rock the cradle,
Rock the cradle Joe;
Rock the cradle, rock the cradle,
Rock it nice and slow.

(A) What’ll we do when the baby cries
I don’t know;
What’ll we do when the baby cries
Rock that cradle Joe.