Cotton Eyed Joe Banjo TAB

Cotton Eyed Joe Banjo TAB

There are a lot of different versions of the traditional old fiddle tune “Cotton Eyed Joe.” I had to decide which one I wanted to do, I chose the one I think of when I hum the tune or sing the lyrics.

This tune is certainly on the list of BLUEGRASS STANDARDS.

Cotton Eyed Joe 5-string Banjo TAB Video

The great thing about this song is it’s easy enough for most anyone to strum chords to on a guitar.  So even if someone doesn’t don’t know it, they’ll be able to pick right up on it.  It’s two chords (A and E major), that’s it.

My version for 5-string banjo is in the key of A without a capo.  However, you do have to tune or capo the 5th string to A in order to play it.  Probably not for the pure beginner, and more oriented for the intermediate banjo student.

The first part uses melodics and single-string techniques and the second part is a very straight-forward Scruggs style approach based out of the Barre chord shape.

Some History behind Cotton Eyed Joe

Historically, Cotton-eyed Joe predates the Civil War era.  It rose to fame being played at square dances throughout the South.  In 1994, the group Rednex had a HUGE hit with this song on Country Music radio stations, later doing a dance remix of the song.

Cotten Eyed Joe lyrics

As most folk tunes, lyrics have changed over the years.  Here are the ones commonly sang today

If i hadn’t been for Cotton Eyed Joe

I’d been married a long time ago

Where did you come from, where did you go?

Where did you come from, Cotton-eyed Joe?

Jody Written by:

Professional Musician of 27 years. I've performed on the stages of Carnegie Hall, The Grand Ole Opry, and The Ryman Auditorium. I've also played in 6 different countries. All things Banjo and Acoustic Guitar.