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'Diamond Joe' -- source of tune?

DigiTrad:
DIAMOND JOE
DIAMOND JOE (2)
DIAMOND JOE (3)


Related threads:
Tune Req: Diamond Joe (Ramblin' Jack Elliott) (19)
Lyr Req: Diamond Joe (2)


PoppaGator 22 Apr 03 - 05:12 PM
Mark Ross 22 Apr 03 - 05:56 PM
GUEST,Q 22 Apr 03 - 06:01 PM
GUEST,Q 22 Apr 03 - 06:08 PM
Stewie 22 Apr 03 - 07:55 PM
Stewie 22 Apr 03 - 08:08 PM
GUEST,Q 22 Apr 03 - 08:48 PM
Art Thieme 23 Apr 03 - 12:25 AM
Joe Offer 23 Apr 03 - 01:05 AM
Art Thieme 23 Apr 03 - 10:49 AM
Stewie 23 Apr 03 - 10:39 PM
PoppaGator 24 Apr 03 - 04:29 PM
Art Thieme 24 Apr 03 - 04:58 PM
GUEST,Four Leaf Clover 05 Mar 04 - 06:02 AM
GUEST,Ewan McVicar 05 Mar 04 - 02:36 PM
harpgirl 15 Jul 04 - 01:39 AM
Charlie Baum 15 Jul 04 - 12:53 PM
Barbara 15 Jul 04 - 10:42 PM
GUEST,Martin 05 Mar 11 - 04:59 PM
olddude 05 Mar 11 - 06:06 PM
Amos 05 Mar 11 - 08:57 PM
Art Thieme 05 Mar 11 - 09:37 PM
olddude 06 Mar 11 - 05:35 PM
olddude 06 Mar 11 - 06:14 PM
olddude 23 Mar 11 - 10:13 AM
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Subject: 'Diamond Joe' -- source of tune?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 22 Apr 03 - 05:12 PM

One of my oldest favorites among all folk songs is "Diamond Joe." The song I'm talking about is the second of three with the same title listed in the Digitrad database, the one designated as "Diamond Joe (2)."

I first heard it around 1963-64 on a Tom Rush album; the album notes say it was a cowboy song collected by Cisco Houston. Many years later this same song was recorded by Bob Dylan on that all-covers album of his.

It was one of the first pieces I learned to play on the guitar, and one of the very few I've *always* played. I just love to hear myself run through the chords and walk the bass line up and down. It's a simple little melody, just two phrases repeated over and over in ABBA order, but there's something very haunting and compelling about it (at least, to me).

I've often wondered where the tune came from. I suspect that (as with so many American folksongs) the words were set to some pre-existing Celtic or British melody. Anyone know of an older song with the same tune?


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Subject: RE: 'Diamond Joe' -- source of tune?
From: Mark Ross
Date: 22 Apr 03 - 05:56 PM

The STATE OF ARKANSAS is sung to that tune.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: 'Diamond Joe' -- source of tune?
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 22 Apr 03 - 06:01 PM

The song may be descended from "The State of Arkansas." Both carry the same tune. The Traditional Ballad Index cufresno suggests that it could be a Cisco Houston and/or Lee Hays 1959 adaptation from the "State of Arkansas" ("John Johanna"). Belden first noted "State of Arkansas in America in 1906. The Trad Ballad Index notes that it is found in Ireland, but form and date not known to me.


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Subject: RE: 'Diamond Joe' -- source of tune?
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 22 Apr 03 - 06:08 PM

Can be sung to "When the Work's All Done This Fall." US, 1893, published by O'Malley. See Trad ballad Index.


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Subject: RE: 'Diamond Joe' -- source of tune?
From: Stewie
Date: 22 Apr 03 - 07:55 PM

In 1927, the Georgia Crackers recorded a 'Diamond Joe' that appears to be of the same rootstock as 'Diamond Joe 3' in the DT. This is different from the cowboy song and, in respect of tune and lyric content, bring to mind, to me at least, Uncle Dave Macon's 'I'll Keep My Skillet Good and Greasy'. Meade et alia 'Country Music Sources' note that this 'Diamond Joe' was probably addressed not to a person but to a steamboat: 'Jo Reynolds ran the Diamond Jo Steamboat line from 1892 to 1910 and each boat had a large diamond with the name "JO" in the middle of it'.

The Crackers recording was first reissued on 'Hell Broke Loose in Georgia' County LP 514 and has since been reissued on CD: Various Artists 'Georgia Stringbands Vol I' Document DOCD-8021. It has lyrics similar to those of 'Diamond Joe 3' in DT. I can't see much connection with the cowboy song apart from the title.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: 'Diamond Joe' -- source of tune?
From: Stewie
Date: 22 Apr 03 - 08:08 PM

Q,

Meade et alia give an earlier date for 'State of Arkansas': Wehman's Collection of Folksongs (NYC Henry J. Wehman 1884-94) #32 (April 1891), p 22. [Meade et alia 'Country Music Sources' p 52].

The earliest recording was by Kelly Harrell & The Virginia Stringband under the title 'My Name Is John Johanna' 23 March 1927 in Camden, NJ.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: 'Diamond Joe' -- source of tune?
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 22 Apr 03 - 08:48 PM

Agree that Diamond Joe 3 has nothing to do with DJ2. Could well have come from the steamboat line.
According to this website, the full name was the Chicago, Fulton and River Line, popular name Diamond Jo Line, with several riverboats including the Diamond Jo, 1864-1883. Company formed for grain towing, later was more general freight and passengers. For a time, Joseph Reynolds ("Diamond Jo") was master of the riverboat "Diamond Jo." The Diamond Jo was a 242-ton wooden-hulled sternwheeler. The line operated as many as 19 ships. The company sold out in 1911.

Riverboat owners
The Home site for this website is http://members.tripod.com/~Write4801/riverboats.html


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Subject: RE: 'Diamond Joe' -- source of tune?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 23 Apr 03 - 12:25 AM

Stewie,

That was my original idea. I was delving into the lore of the river and found out about the Diamond Jo Steamboat Line while I was singing for ten years on the Julia Belle Swain and the Twilight riverboats. (I've told this story in other threads too.) "Diamond Joe" or "Jo", was sung by Charlie Butler in 1937 when he was a prisoner at Parchman Prison in Mississippi. He recorded his great song for the Library Of Congress song collector named Duncan Emrich. I decided that Mr. Butler's song might've been a lament sung to the steamboat saying "take me away from here----Diamond Jo, come and get-a me!" But Diamond Jo Reynolds only built steamboats for the upper Mississippi River trade. Dubuque, Iowas was their home base. His boats probably never got down south. When Stephen Wade put together the fine CD of samples from the collections at the L. of Congress, he had my theory to promote if he chose to do that. Lord knows, I pushed it strong enough for a year or two. But neither I nor my extrapolations are mentioned in the notes for that CD because he decided that I was probably not on the mark. I did get a "thank you" from Mr. Wade for my help with his project. And I do think, after looking at all the evidence that, while it would be romantic and "nice" if the locked up man's lament was sung to the boat, I do suspect, now, that I was most likely WRONG in my surmise.

But Diamond Jo Reynolds did name his flagship steamboat THE DIAMOND JO, and every one of his boats had that diamond shape painted prominently on the stacks with the letters "JO" inside the diamond.---------- But go down to any working river where the towboats are pushing barges and you will see that ALL OF THE TOWBOATS have that diamond shape prominently displayed----but inside the diamond will be the trademark of whatever line happens to own that particular boat.

But I do get a real kick-and-a-half out of seeing an idea I came up with go into the oral tradition and be put forth here all the way from Australia and the N. T. Darwin (Charles, not your city) would possibly be a bit excited too by this folkloristic example of his NATURAL SELECTION ideas.------- I love it. You made my day----er--night. ;-) I needed that. Later !

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: 'Diamond Joe' -- source of tune?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 23 Apr 03 - 01:05 AM

I think it's worth posting the entries from the Traditional Ballad Index.
-Joe Offer-

Diamond Joe (I)

DESCRIPTION: Singer tells of ranch-owner Diamond Joe, who mistreats his workers, talks too much, and lies. Singer has tried to quit three times, but Joe has talked him out of it. When he dies, "Give my blankets to my buddies And give the fleas to Diamond Joe"
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1959 (recording, Cisco Houston)
KEYWORDS: lie work boss cowboy worker
FOUND IN: US
REFERENCES (1 citation):
DT, DIAMONJ2
RECORDINGS:
Cisco Houston, "Diamond Joe" (on CHouston01, CHoustonCD01, FMUSA)
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "The State of Arkansas (The Arkansas Traveler II)" [Laws H1] (tune, lyrics)
Notes: This should not be confused with "Diamond Joe (II)", a river shanty with the distinctive chorus, "Diamond Joe, better come and get me, Diamond Joe." "Diamond Joe (I)" has no chorus, although most verses end with the name of Diamond Joe. Some have speculated that Cisco Houston and/or Lee Hays adapted the song from "The State of Arkansas," but there is no evidence. - PJS
This is one of those really confusing things. There is a third "Diamond Joe" song, also about a ranch owner, for which see DIAMONJO in the Digital Tradition. It's not the same song as this one, to my mind (the singer doesn't like his work, but it's more because of loneliness) -- but it's a Lomax item, and who knows what the Lomaxes did to produce it? - RBW
File: RcDJoe1

Diamond Joe (II)

DESCRIPTION: Mostly floating verses with a hint of narrative; singer goes "up on the mountain, give my horn a blow...." "Ain't gonna work in the country, neither on (Parchman?) farm...." Chorus: "Diamond Joe, come-a get me, Diamond Joe"
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1937 (recording, Charlie Butler)
LONG DESCRIPTION: Mostly floating verses with a hint of narrative; singer goes "up on the mountain, give my horn a blow/Thought I heard Miss Maybelle say, yonder comes my beau." "Ain't gonna work in the country, neither on (Parchman?) farm/I'm gonna stay till my Maybelle come, she gon' call-a me Tom." Chorus: "Diamond Joe, come-a get me, Diamond Joe"
KEYWORDS: love work floatingverses nonballad
FOUND IN: US(SE)
REFERENCES (1 citation):
DT, (DIAMONJ3 -- though this may be at least partly a parody)
RECORDINGS:
Charlie Butler, "Diamond Joe" (AFS, 1941; on LCTreas)
Notes: This should not be confused with the cowboy complaint song "Diamond Joe (I)," an entirely separate song.
Art Thieme has suggested that the Diamond Joe referred to in this song is a steamboat rather than a person. - PJS
File: RcDiJoII

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions

The Ballad Index Copyright 2003 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: RE: 'Diamond Joe' -- source of tune?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 23 Apr 03 - 10:49 AM

Captain Kevin Stier was the master of Dennis Trone's excursion boat Twilight through the last half of the 1980s and into the '90s. Later he became the captain of a gambling boat that was named THE DIAMOND JO in honor of the old boat builder, Diamond Jo Reynolds. The steamboat museum in Dubuque, Iowa is a great place to find information on Mr. Reynolds and his boats. The Mississippi River is the border between Illinois and Iowa there for several hundred miles. Both Captain Dennis Trone and Captain Kevin Stier call Petersburg, Illinois home----Petersburg on the Sangamon River is the successor town to NEW SALEM, Illinois where young Abe Lincoln lived after arriving there (and getting stuck on the dam) as a hand on a flatboat. Lincoln made quite a name for himself there when he figured out a way to get that stuck vessel off the dam and on it's way.

Art Thieme

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: 'Diamond Joe' -- source of tune?
From: Stewie
Date: 23 Apr 03 - 10:39 PM

Art

Thanks for the info. I had not come across the other threads where you outlined your theory. Right or wrong, it is surely plausible, and it seems Guthrie Meade was sufficiently convinced to expound it in his tome.

Charlie Butler's lament under this title is something else again - arresting, haunting and ultimately mysterious. It is a far cry from the Georgia Crackers' stomp or even the cowboy's complaint. It deserves a place in the DT, but it is not easy to transcribe. Below is what I can hear of it. Could you, or others who have the recording, give it a listen, fill in the missing line with the question mark and make corrections where I have misheard. Anyone with an interest in folk music who doesn't have a copy of the Wade compilation CD is missing out on treasures indeed.

DIAMOND JOE

Diamond Joe, come a-getta me
Diamond Joe, come a-getta me
Diamond Joe, come a-getta me
Diamond Joe

Went up on that mountain
Give my horn a blow
Thought I heard Miss Maybelle say
Yonder come my beau

Diamond Joe, come a-getta me
Diamond Joe, come a-getta me
Diamond Joe, come a-getta me
Diamond Joe

Ain't gonna work in the country
And neither on Parchment Farm
I'm gonna stay till my Maybelle come
And she gonna call-a me Tom

Diamond Joe, come a-getta me
Diamond Joe, come a-getta me
Diamond Joe, come a-getta me
Diamond Joe

Ain't gonna tell you no story
And neither word or lie
One of them my Maybelle say
Didn't she keep on by

Diamond Joe, come a-getta me
Diamond Joe, come a-getta me
Diamond Joe, come a-getta me
Diamond Joe

Diamond Joe, where you ?
Diamond Joe, where you ?
Diamond Joe, where you ?
Diamond Joe

Diamond Joe, come a-getta me
Diamond Joe, come a-getta me
Diamond Joe, come a-getta me
Diamond Joe

Ain't gonna work in the country
And neither on Parchment Farm
I'm gonna stay till my Maybelle come
And she gonna call-a me Tom

Diamond Joe, come a-getta me
Diamond Joe, come a-getta me
Diamond Joe, my black Joe

Source: recording by John A. Lomax of Charlie Butler in Parchman, Mississippi, 8 March 1937. Reissued in Various Artists 'A Treasury of Library of Congress Field Recordings' Rounder CD 1500 [Compiled and annotated by Stephen Wade].

Regards, Stewie.


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Subject: RE: 'Diamond Joe' -- source of tune?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 24 Apr 03 - 04:29 PM

Gee, I'm glad I asked -- got way more info than I expected, most of it veryu interesting. Also, learned of the related link, "Diamond Joe/Ramblin' Jack Elliott/Tabs," with more of the same.

As far as my original question is concerned, apparently the only other song known to use the same melody is "State of Arkansas" -- an older piece, presumably, but still obviously American. I still have a hunch that the tune has older, transatlantic roots -- but, we may never know.


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Subject: RE: 'Diamond Joe' -- source of tune?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 24 Apr 03 - 04:58 PM

Michael Cooney recorded Charlie Butler's song a capella on one of his albums for Front Hall. Records. I worked out what I thought was a very O.K. guitar backup for Diamond Joe. One of these days my intent is to try to get another CD or two out. There's lots of unissued songs & stuff from live shows. Dennis Cook is digitizing those things as we speak. So we will see.--------- I used to toss in this verse sometimes:---

Sometimes I do think,
That you're too sweet to die,
And sometimes I think, Maybelle
That you ought to be burried alive.

Art


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Subject: RE: 'Diamond Joe' -- source of tune?
From: GUEST,Four Leaf Clover
Date: 05 Mar 04 - 06:02 AM

I think Cisco & Ramblin Jack learned it from Woody Guthrie,who wrote it.


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Subject: RE: 'Diamond Joe' -- source of tune?
From: GUEST,Ewan McVicar
Date: 05 Mar 04 - 02:36 PM

The original query was about the tune.
The first line is further away from the wellknown Irish tune that is perhaps the source, but the second line closer to the Irish wellknown version of On The Banks Of The Roses.
Ewan MacColl set a song to it about new industries driving out old - The Gallant Colliers - and called it traditional Irish.
I know it's not the same tune, by the way, but to me it's of the same 'tune family'.
A possible more distant relative again is the Scottish The Burning Of Auchendoun or Willie Mackintosh tune?


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Subject: RE: 'Diamond Joe' -- source of tune?
From: harpgirl
Date: 15 Jul 04 - 01:39 AM

reflux


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Subject: RE: 'Diamond Joe' -- source of tune?
From: Charlie Baum
Date: 15 Jul 04 - 12:53 PM

Some comments on Stewie's transcription of Charlie Butler's song Diamond Joe (perhaps Diamond Joe #4?):

Parchman Farm rather than Parchment.
Parchman Farm was the (in)famous Mississippi labor camp, part of its prison system, where a lot of field recordings got made.

For the verse:
"Ain't gonna tell you no story
And neither word or lie"

My ears heard it as "and neither would I lie."

--Charlie Baum


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Subject: RE: 'Diamond Joe' -- source of tune?
From: Barbara
Date: 15 Jul 04 - 10:42 PM

I'm only familiar with Michael Cooney's rendition of Charley Butler's version, and, without finding the vinyl and playing it, I'd say the missing line is
Diamond Joe, where you been to?

Cooney learned it from the library of Congress recording, and he tells about a buddy in the background egging the singer on and telling him "gwan, you can do it", and also providing some backup.
Art? Does that sound right?
And Art, I do recognize your added verse as coming from that same Cooney album, only it belongs to Leadbelly's "Corrina". I got that album just after Malvina Reynolds died, and I used to sing "Thyme, It is a Precious Thing" as a way of grieving for her. The album and that time meld in my mind. 1977?
Blessings,
Barbara

PS Art, I drove through Depot Bay July 3 for the fireworks there, and thought of you. It's all cleaned up and touristified, and I don't think you'd like it if you recognized it, which you might not. Sorry.


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Subject: RE: 'Diamond Joe' -- source of tune?
From: GUEST,Martin
Date: 05 Mar 11 - 04:59 PM

Hello All,

Thanks for all the great discussion of a great song. My question is for Art Thieme: could you please post the chords that you worked out for it? I can't seem to put chords to it without changing the beautiful melody.

Thanks a bunch,
Martin


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Subject: RE: 'Diamond Joe' -- source of tune?
From: olddude
Date: 05 Mar 11 - 06:06 PM

Art Thieme does the best version of this song I ever heard


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Subject: RE: 'Diamond Joe' -- source of tune?
From: Amos
Date: 05 Mar 11 - 08:57 PM

I learned it from the playing of Rambling Jack Elliot. I love the song.


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Subject: RE: 'Diamond Joe' -- source of tune?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 05 Mar 11 - 09:37 PM

Lemme see; As far the chords go, I think I usually did it something like this--but it varied a lot on occasion. I'd strum and finger pick the melody to highlight the words,-----I do hope this helps some.


Went up on the mountain,
I give my horn a blow,
Thought I heard miss Maybelle say,
Yonder come-a my beau.

Diamond Jo, come and get-a me,
Diamond Jo, come and get-a me,
Diamond Jo, come and get-a me,
Diamond Jo.


C                        G
Ain't gonna work in this country,
C                      G
Neither on Forester's farm,
   C                   G
I'm gonna sit 'til my Maybelle come,
                D         G
She's gonna call-a me Tom.


G      C          G
Diamond Jo, come an get-a me,
       b-minor      C
Diamond Jo come an' get-a me,
         G            C
Diamond Jo, come an' get-a me,
         G
Diamond Jo.


Diamond Jo, where's your fireman,
Diamond Jo, where's your fireman,
Diamond Jo, where's your fireman,
Cotton eyed Joe.

Ain't gonna tell you no story, Ain't gonna tell ya no lie,
Gonna sit right here 'til Maybelle come,
Watch her rollin' on by.


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Subject: RE: 'Diamond Joe' -- source of tune?
From: olddude
Date: 06 Mar 11 - 05:35 PM

Here ya go Art Thieme talks about this song and then does an incredible rendition
Art Thieme - Diamond Joe


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Subject: RE: 'Diamond Joe' -- source of tune?
From: olddude
Date: 06 Mar 11 - 06:14 PM

Oh it is on Art's On the River CD


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Subject: RE: 'Diamond Joe' -- source of tune?
From: olddude
Date: 23 Mar 11 - 10:13 AM

Art on Youtube


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