"Cotton-Eyed Joe" is a popular American folk song known at various times throughout the United States and Canada although today it is most commonly associated with the American South. In recent decades it has become popular as a line dancing staple (its popularity revived by the 1980 film Urban Cowboy). Most recently the song has been reborn due to the popularity of a version recorded by the band Rednex in 1994 as "Cotton Eye Joe".
The precise origins of this song are unclear although it predates the American Civil War. Over the years, many different versions of the song have been recorded with many different versions of the lyrics (and many without lyrics). During the first half of the twentieth century the song was a widely known folk song all over English-speaking North America. In more recent decades, the song has waned in popularity in most regions except some parts of the American South where it is still a popular folk song. In particular, it is widely known as a traditional line dancing song and is commonly played as an instrumental piece (featuring the fiddle) without lyrics.
This song was referenced in the lyrics to Alabama's song "If You're Gonna Play in Texas."
In 1994, Swedish eurodance band Rednex covered the song as "Cotton Eye Joe", combining their style with traditional American instruments, such as banjos, fiddles, and harmonicas. The version released by Rednex is quite different from the versions commonly used in line dancing.
This version of the song was very successful in Europe, reaching number 1 in the United Kingdom in January 1995, and also in the United States and Australia (where it peaked at #8 in April 1995). The song was also remixed in 2002. It has become a "standard" for wedding "DJs" all over the world, among songs such as the "Macarena", "The Electric Slide", and "YMCA." This version of the song is popular at sporting events, especially in Europe and is frequently played during the seventh inning stretch at Baltimore Orioles games in Camden Yards.
In popular culture:
* Nina Simone recorded a version of Cotton-Eyed Joe.
* Sung with lyrics in the 1984 movie Places In the Heart.
* In 1992 Michelle Shocked released a song called "Prodigal Daughter (Cotton Eyed Joe)" on the Album "Arkansas Traveler".
* A rendition of this song was included in one of the albums from Crazy Frog