Cotton-Eyed Joe--lyrics

Posted by R. Berg on September 04, 2001

In Reply to: Cottoneye joe posted by ESC on September 04, 2001

: : 1)A cottoneye joe is ...
: : 2)Nobody leaves til the fat lady sings?

: 1. cotton-eyed - "Eyes prominently white, as in the folk song 'Cotton-eyed Joe.'" From the Whistlin' Dixie: A Dictionary of Southern Expressions section of Facts on File Dictionary of American Regionalisms by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 2000). Cottoneyed Joe is a fiddle tune and a dance. I looked for the words online and discovered a a song about a horse. But that isn't the song I was looking for. From memory, the song goes: "If it wasn't for Cottoneyed Joe, I'd been married a long time ago."Also, on Andrew's Home Page (an Englishman who came to America because he didn't know he was allergic to cheese.??) there's this information on the dance:

: Cotton Eyed Joe
: Pairs around the room, progressing counter-clockwise. Man stands on inside, woman on outside. Both face line-of-dance. Cape position: man's right hand holds woman's right hand just outside her right shoulder, man's left hand holds woman's left hand in front of his left shoulder.
: With weight on right foot:
: 1. cross left foot over right
: 2. kick out with left foot
: 3. polka steps going backwards left-right-left
: 4. cross right foot over left
: 5. kick out with right foot
: 6. polka steps going backwards right-left-right
: 7. cross left foot over right
: 8. kick out with left foot
: 9. poika steps going backwards left-right-left
: 10. cross right foot over left
: 11. kick out with right foot
: 12. polka steps going backwards right-left right
: 13. polka steps going forward left-right-left
: 14. polka steps right-left-right
: 15. polka steps left-right-left
: 16. polka steps right-left-right
: 17. polka steps left-right-left
: 18. polka steps right-left-right
: 19. polka steps left-right-left
: 20. polka steps right-left-right
: Dance begins again
: Note: in some areas of the country instead of crossing over you may stomp instead.

: 2. "The opera ain't over till the fat lady sings. The outcome of any contest isn't known until the final results are in. Thus, don't make premature judgments or give up too soon. Often associated with Wagnerian opera, specifically Brunhilde's 'Fire Song,' in 'Die Walkure,' and the fact that Wagner may seem interminable to nonaficionados. Thus one's impatience would be relieved when 'the fat lady sings.' Originated in the United States in the 1970s. Bartlett's 'Familiar Quotations' attributes the coinage to San Antonio TV sports commentator Dan Cook. Ralph Graves claims in the August 1991 issue of 'Smithsonian' that it has its roots in Southern proverbial lore: 'Church ain't out till the fat lady sings. There are still other attributions, but nobody really knows who coined this popular saying." From Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996).

: For more discussion, type in "sings" in the Discussion Page archives.

One version of the lyrics to the folk song "Cotton-Eyed Joe"
(link below).