Annotation:Rock the Cradle Joe (1)

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X:1 T:Rock the Cradle Joe [1] M:2/4 L:1/8 B:Kuntz – Ragged but Right (1987) K:D f/g/|aa/g/ f/e/f/g/|aa/g/ f/e/f/g/|aa/b/ a/g/e|[Af]>[Ag] [Af][Ae]| [Af]f/e/ d/e/g/e/|ff/e/ de/f/|g/f/e/d/ c/A/B/c/|d>e d:| |:c/B/|A[A/e/][A/e/] c[c/e/][c/e/]|d/c/d/e/ [d/f/]d/e/f/|g/f/g/f/ g<a|f>g f/e/d/B/| A[A/e/][A/e/] c[c/e/][c/e/]|d/c/d/e/ [d/f/]d/e/f/|g/f/e/d/ c/A/B/c/|d>e d:|]

ROCK THE CRADLE JOE [1]. American Reel. USA; Patrick & Franklin Counties, Virginia; North Carolina, West Virginia. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. Most modern “old-time revival” versions of the tune come from the fiddle playing of John Watts “Babe” Spangler (1882-) of Meadows of Dan, southwestern Virginia, who recorded it privately in the late 1940’s [1], accompanied by his brother Dudley on guitar. The following ditty is sometimes sung to the tune in old-time tradition:

J.W. Spangler

('B' strain) Rock the cradle Lucy, rock the cradle low,
Rock the cradle Lucy, Rock the Cradle Joe.

Rock the cradle Lucy, rock the cradle high,
Rock the cradle Lucy, don't let that baby cry. ... [Kuntz]]

('A' strain) Can't get up, can't get up,
Can't get up in the morning;
What we gonna do if the baby cries?
Rock the cradle Joe.

('B' strain) Rock the cradle, rock the cradle,
Rock the cradle Joe;
Rock the cradle, rock the cradle,
Rock it nice and slow. ... [Johnson]

What’ll we do when the baby cries
I don’t know;
What’ll we do when the baby cries
Rock that cradle Joe.

Variations of the words, however, were in tradition as “Uncle Joe Cut Off His Toe,” a nursery rhyme which has variants with verses which also resemble some of the “Old Joe Clark” verses:

Uncle Joe cut off his toe
And hung it up to dry;
The ladies began to laugh
And Joe began to cry.

Rock the cradle, rock the cradle,
Rock the cradle, Joe.
'I will not rock, I shall not rock,
For the baby is not mine.' .....[Version ‘C’, Number 97, The Frank C. Brown Collection Of North Carolina Folklore, Volume 3]

Folklorist Lani Herrmann finds a similar verse in the biography of Jennie Devlin (1865-1952) by her granddaughter Katharine D. Newman (Urbana, IL: Univ of Illinois Press, 1995; "an Illini Book"). Allan Lomax recorded this version as a recitation by “Grandma Deb,” one of the names by which Jennie Devlin was known. It seems to echo the North Carolina version:

O, rock the cradle, John,
O, rock the cradle, John,
There's many a man
Rocks another man's child
When he thinks he's rocking his own.

A song entitled "Rocke the Cradle, John" "was licensed by Laurence Price in 1631 in England, and there is an Irish song called "The Old Man Rocking the Cradle," about a man left at home while his wife goes out on the town. These are not related in either words or music, but do show that the man-rocking-cradle meme was an early and widespread one.

See also the related part second strain of "Sally Ann (2).”

Additional notes
Source for notated version : - Alan Block (N.H.) [Spadaro]; Jay Ungar (West Hurley, New York) [Kuntz]; Babe Sengler (Va.) [Phillips].

Printed sources : - Brody (Fiddler’s Fakebook), 1983; p. 232. Johnson (The Kitchen Musician No. 2: Occasional Collection of Old-Timey Fiddle Tunes for Hammer Dulcimer, Fiddle, etc.), 1982 (revised 1988 & 2003); p. 10. Kuntz (Ragged but Right), 1987; pp. 333-334. Silberberg (Tunes I Learned at Tractor Tavern), 2002; p. 132. Sing Out, vol. 36, No. 2, August 1991; p. 77. Songer (Portland Collection), 1997; p. 169. Spadaro (10 Cents a Dance), 1980; p. 16.

Recorded sources : - Tennvale 004, James Leva and Bruce Molsky - "An Anthology.” County 201, The Old Virginia Fiddlers - "Old Time Fiddle, Patrick County, Va., Rare Recordings 1948-49” (1977. Various artists). June Appal 015, Plank Road String Band - "Vocal and Instrumental Blend.” Kicking Mule 213, David Winston - "Southern Clawhammer Banjo.”

See also listing at :
Jane Keefer’s Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [2]
See the standard notation transcription at [3]
Hear Roger Howell's version, learned from Babe Spangler [4], and the 1940's field recording of the Spanglers playing the tune [5]
Hear Roane County, W.Va., fiddler Franklin George's (1928-2017) 2008 field recording at Slippery Hill [6]

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