Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Song of the Week: Old Joe Clark

Even if you don't know the words to today's Song of the Week, (and they range from innocuous to saucy, you probably know the tune to "Old Joe Clark." Listen to this version by the Rosinators....There, now don't you feel an itch to bring your banjo and fiddle out of the closet and throw a barn dance?

The history of the actual Old Joe Clark is that of a shiftless mountaineer with legions of enemies in the late 1800's:

Old Joe Clark, the preacher's son
Preached all over the plain
The only text he ever knew
Was high low jack and the game.

My "Old Joe Clark" is more of an elusive, well-off and slightly eccentric mountaineering guy. If you can actually make it to his house, he'll feed you well, but if you sleep over, forget about getting the comfortable bed. I haven't played "Old Joe Clark" as anything but a warm-up song for the patient early-comers, and have been using Hop Up Ladies as our circle dance. However, the plan is to have the children and grownups dance around in a circle for the chorus and move in and out of the center of the circle (holding hands) for the verses.


Old Joe Clark, he had a house
Eighteen stories high
Every story in that house
D7 G
Was filled with chicken pie.


Round and round, Old Joe Clark
Round and round I say
Round and round, Old Joe Clark
D7 G
Ain't got long to stay.


I went down to Old Joe's house
Never been there before
He slept on a feather bed
I slept on the floor.


I went back to Old Joe's house
He invited me for supper
I stubbed my toe on the table leg
And stuck my nose in the butter.


Eighteen miles of mountain road
Fifteen miles of sand
That’s the way to Old Joe’s house
Find it if you can.

When I lived in West Virginia, I had to walk a mile from where the bus dropped me off to where I actually lived. It wasn't "eighteen miles of mountain road," but it was long enough for short seven-year-old legs.

Our living situation was not typical of those who lived in Cucumber Creek holler: most people had paved roads outside and flush-toilets inside their houses. We didn't live totally off the grid (i.e. we did have electicity), but conditions were rather rustic in spots. If you made it up the dirt roads to our house and didn't get stuck in snow or mud my parents would feed you well. If you got stranded at our house due to floods... well, let me put it this way: we really enjoyed the company.

Can you spot our house?


limpy99 said...

Off to the left behind the car right? You didn't have a small dog did you?

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Limpy99: Believe or not, our dog Mercy, the St. Bernard in the photo was the runt of the litter.

Lone Star Ma said...

Wow...were your folks real back-to-the-land type hippies? I never got that impression when we were teens. My mom went to Woodstock and we lived with all kinds of interesting people when I was tiny, before she married a doc, but she never took me to live out in the country!

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

LSM: There were times when I felt my parents wrote the book on back-to-the land hippidom! You probably didn't that impression when we were teens because I found that aspect of my parents' lives to be embarrassing (as is a teen's wont). I wanted normal (i.e. boring yet interesting) parents like I thought everyone else had.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Um, "have that impression." My slip is showing quite a bit today.

HipWriterMama said...

It is interesting how as kids we want normal, but as we get older, originality and individuality is so, so cool? Hurrah for your parents!

diana said...

I love where you lived! It is breathtakingly beautiful! Which child are you in the picture?
It reminds me a little of the Seven Silly Eaters book. And your dog is adorable!

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Diana--Ulric wasn't born then, so I'm the only child in the picture. My mother, my father, my grandmother on my mother's side, and the dog are all in the photo. I'm the one in the red kerchief on the left. I must have been four years old, so Ulric was on the way!

HWM: It's so true.

Noodle said...

Have you ever read Lee Smith's Fair and Tender Ladies? It's my most favorite book in the world.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Noodle: I just placed it on hold! Thanks.

Lone Star Ma said...

Your parents must be so, so cool!

diana said...

Your mother is breathtakingly beautiful! I thought she was an older teen.