Cotton Eyed Joe

I first learned “Cotton Eyed Joe” at Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music in 1957. No one really knows what it’s about but speculation has it that Joe would come to a town and steal away a man’s sweetheart. The song predates the Civil War and has become a cult dance tune both in line dance and partner dance. It has been recorded by The Moody Brothers, The Chieftains, Ricky Skaggs and the Swedish band Rednex. The 1980 film Urban Cowboy sparked a renewed interest in the dance. It has also inspired nightclubs to take on the name as in the photo above.

Lyrics:
[G] Where did you come from
Where did you [Em] go
[G] Where did you come from
Where did you come from
[D] Cotton Eye’d [G] Joe

Come for to ramble
Come for to sing
Come for to show you
A diamond ring

BREAK

Where did you come from
Where did you go
Where did you come from
Cotton Eye’d Joe

Haden’t been for Joe Cotton Eye’d Joe
I’d a-been married 40 years ago X2

Where did you come from Where did you go
Where did you come from
Cotton Eye’d Joe

Country Pickin’

When I studied at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago in the mid to late ’50s Pete Seeger invited our teacher Frank Hamilton to join him on a shared recording project called “Nonsusch.” We were all thrilled that Frank our local hero was going to be on a record with our International hero Pete Seeger! One of the tunes they played together was called “Living In The Country.” I have put a little bit more air into it.

Hush Little Baby

This is a traditional Southern United States lullaby. The father promises many rewards for the baby’s silence. If one reward fails he vows to replace it with a better one.

This marks the 25th Anniversary of the Folk Den with over 300 songs YIPPEE!!!

Lyrics:
[G] Hush, little Baby, [D] don’t say a word,
Papa’s gonna buy you a [G] Mockingbird.

And if that mockingbird don’t sing,
Papa’s gonna buy you a diamond ring.

And if that diamond ring turns brass,
Papa’s gonna buy you a looking glass.

And if that looking glass gets broke,
Papa’s gonna buy you a billy goat,

And if that billy goat won’t pull,
Papa’s gonna buy you a cart and bull,

And if that cart and bull turn over,
Papa’s gonna buy you a dog named Rover.

And if that dog named Rover won’t bark,
Papa’s gonna buy you a horse and a cart.

And if that horse and cart fall down,
You’ll still be the sweetest little baby in town.

Johnson Boys

This is a traditional bluegrass song.

Lyrics:
Johnson Boys

[G] Johnson boys [C] raised in the [G] ashes
Didn’t know how to court [D7] a maid
[G] Turn their backs and [C] hide their [G] faces
Sight of a pretty girl [D7] makes ’em [G] afraid
Sight of a pretty girl [C] makes ’em [G] afraid
Sight of a pretty girl makes [D7] ’em afraid
[G] Sight of a pretty girl [C] makes ’em [G] afraid
Sight of a pretty girl makes [D7]’em [G] afraid

Johnson boys went a-huntin’
Took two dogs and went astray
Tore their clothes and scratched their faces
Didn’t come home ’til the break of day
Didn’t come home ’til the break of day
Didn’t come home ’til the break of day
Didn’t come home ’til the break of day
Didn’t come home ’til the break of day

Johnson Boys went to the city
Johnson Boys didn’t mean to stay
They came home all broke and hungry
Had no money for to pay their way
Had no money for to pay their way
Had no money for to pay their way
Had no money for to pay their way
Had no money for to pay their way

Johnson boys’ll never get married
They’ll stay single all their life
They’re too scared to pop the question
Ain’t no woman gonna be their wife
Ain’t no woman gonna be their wife
Ain’t no woman gonna be their wife
Ain’t no woman gonna be their wife
Ain’t no woman gonna be their wife

Freight Train

Elizabeth “Libba” Cotten composed “Freight Train” as a teenager (sometime between 1906 and 1912), inspired by the sound of the trains rolling in on the tracks near her home in North Carolina.

The song has been recorded by Joan Baez, Peter Paul and Mary and countless others.

Lyrics:
Freight train, freight train, run so fast
Freight train, freight train, run so fast
Please don’t tell what train I’m on
They won’t know what route I’m going

When I’m dead and in my grave
No more good times here I crave
Place the stones at my head and feet
And tell them all I’ve gone to sleep

When I die, oh bury me deep
Down at the end of old Chestnut Street
So I can hear old Number Nine
As she comes rolling by

When I die, oh bury me deep
Down at the end of old Chestnut Street
Place the stones at my head and feet
And tell them all I’ve gone to sleep

Freight train, freight train, run so fast
Freight train, freight train, run so fast
Please don’t tell what train I’m on
They won’t know what route I’m going

Buffalo Boy

This is an Appalachian courting song I learned at the Old Town School of Folk Music in 1957
Lyrics:
[E] When are we going to get married
[B7] Get married, [E] get married
When are we going to get married
[B7] My dear old Buffalo [E] Boy

Guess we’ll marry in the Fall
In the Fall, in the Fall
Guess we’ll marry in the Fall
That is if the weather is good

What you going to bring to the wedding
To the wedding, to the wedding
What you going to bring to the wedding
My dear old Buffalo Boy

Guess I’ll bring my ox cart
My ox cart, my ox cart
Guess I’ll bring my ox cart
That is if the weather is good

Why don’t you bring your buggy
Your buggy, your buggy
Why don’t you bring your buggy
My dear old Buffalo Boy

Ox won’t fit in the buggy
In the buggy, in the buggy
Ox won’t fit in the buggy
Not even if the weather is good

Who you going to bring to the wedding
To the wedding, to the wedding
Who you going to bring to the wedding
My dear old Buffalo Boy

Guess I’ll bring my children
My children, my children
Guess I’ll bring my children
That is if the weather is good

Didn’t know you had no children
No children, no children
Didn’t know you had no children
My dear old Buffalo Boy

Yes I got two children
Two children, two children
Yes I got two children
Because the weather was good

There ain’t gonna be no wedding
No wedding, no wedding
There ain’t gonna be no wedding
My dear old Buffalo Boy

Not even if the weather is good?

Not even if the weather is good!

Miles High Maggie

This is based on a bluegrass standard “Little Maggie” recorded by Bill Monroe, Ralph Stanley, Lester Flatt, Ricky Scaggs and almost every banjo player in the world.

I have fond memories of standing around the fountain in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village on Sunday afternoons in the 60s playing guitar along with Roger Sprung and Eric Weissberg.

Everybody did this song about the same way. I decided to add a little “Eight Miles High” Rickenbacker to it for spice and in so doing a new genre: “JazzGrass” Ha!

Lyrics:

[A] Oh yonder stands little [G] Maggie
[A] With a dram glass [E7] in her [A] hands
She’s drinking away her [G] troubles
[A] She’s a courting some [E7] other [A] man

Oh how can I ever stand it
Just to see them two blue eyes
A shining in the moonlight
Like two diamonds in the sky

Last time a saw little Maggie
She was down on the banks of the sea
With a forty-four around her Waste
And a banjo on her knee

Lay down your last gold dollar
Lay down your gold watch and chain
Little Maggie’s gonna dance for daddy
Listen to that old banjo ring

Pretty flowers were made for blooming
Pretty stars were made to shine
Pretty women were made for loving
Little Maggie was made for mine

Ain’t Nobody Gonna Turn Us Around

This is an old hymn from the 1800s about walking up to Calvary.
Lyrics:
[Dm] Well there ain’t nobody gonna turn us around
[A] Turn us around
[Dm]Turn us around
Well there ain’t nobody gonna turn us around
We’re gonna [G] keep on a-walking Lord
[Dm] Keep on a-talking Lord
[G] Walking up to [A] Calvary [Dm]

Well there ain’t no sinner gonna turn us around
Turn us around
Turn us around
Well there ain’t no sinner gonna turn us around
We’re gonna keep on a-walking Lord
Keep on a-talking Lord
Walking up to Calvary

Ain’t no unbeliver gonna turn us around
Turn us around
Turn us around
Ain’t no unbeliver gonna turn us around
We’re gonna keep on a-walking Lord
Keep on a-talking Lord
Walking up to Calvary

Well there ain’t no demon gonna turn us around
Turn us around
Turn us around
Well there ain’t no demon gonna turn us around
We’re gonna keep on a-walking Lord
Keep on a-talking Lord
Walking up to Calvary

Well there ain’t no devil gonna turn us around
Turn us around
Turn us around
Well there ain’t no devil gonna turn us around
We’re gonna keep on a-walking Lord
Keep on a-talking Lord
Walking up to Calvary

There ain’t nobody gonna turn us around
Turn us around
Turn us around
Well there ain’t nobody gonna turn us around
We’re gonna keep on a-walking Lord
Keep on a-talking Lord
Walking up to Calvary

The A B C Song

It’s hard to imagine a song about the “ABC’s” without the tune to “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” The song only uses eight of the letters of the alphabet. But that’s how I learned it from the John Quincy Wolf Collection OZARK FOLKSONGS. You can listen to the original version there. Not sure if there were verses for the rest of the letters and the guy just forgot them or that’s all they had to say. In any case I modulated keys on this to make it more musically interesting.
Lyrics:

[A] Oh, A was an archer,
And he shot a big frog.

[E] B was a butcher,
And he had a big [A] dog.

[A] And C was a carpenter
All covered with lace,

[E] And D was a drunkard,
And he had a red [A] face.

[D] Oh, E was a squire (Maybe that was originally Esquire)
With pride on his brow.

[E] And F was a farmer,
And he [D] followed the [A] plow.

[A] And G was a gamester,
And he had good luck.

[E] And H was a hunter,
And he hunted the [A] buck.

Rock A My Soul


Rock A My Soul is a classic African-American spiritual originating in the southern United States. It refers to a parable in Gospel of Luke of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man had his reward in life but the poor beggar Lazarus suffered greatly. In death Lazarus went to enjoy the comfort of the bosom of Abraham and the rich man was tortured in Hades.

The counterpoint of the two choruses is just for fun. You gotta go in through the door.

Lyrics:

CH 1)

[E] Rock a my soul in the bosom of Abraham
[B7] Rock a my soul in the bosom of Abraham
[E] Rock a my soul in the bosom of Abraham
[B7] Lord rock a my [E] soul

CH 2) Overlap

[E] So high you can’t get over it
[B7] So low you can’t get under it
[E] So wide you can’t get around it
[B7] You gotta go in through the [E] door

[E] I would not be a sinner
And I’ll tell you the reason [B7] why
If by chance my Lord should [A] call me
[B7] Then I wouldn’t be ready to [E] die

Why don’t you rock a my soul
In the bosom of Abraham
Rock a my soul in the bosom of Abraham
Rock a my soul in the bosom of Abraham
Oh rock a my soul
Why don’t you rock a my soul

I went down in the valley
To find me and place to pray
I felt my soul so happy
That I sang my prayers all day

CH out

(c) 2017 McGuinn Music /
New Lyrics By Roger McGuinn