Why teach Old Joe Clark wrong?

by Thomas C.
(Raleigh, NC)

Old Joe Clark is in Mixolydian mode. The D7 chords shown on the music are just wrong - it's trying to force the tune back into the Ionian mode. They should be F chords in order to play the tune correctly. Please check any traditional source, or even Wikipedia.

Also, the song is much more commonly played in the key of A rather than G. If the goal is to be able to sit in on informal bluegrass/country/folk sessions, it might be helpful to teach it in A. This is much less critical, since it can easily be capoed up, but it's still worth a mention.

Finally, some of the melody notes on the combined notation/tab image look wrong. I'm not sure whether it was corrected on the full size version or if the small size is just rendered poorly, but you might want to fix that.

Sorry, don't mean to be a grouch, but that's MY musical heritage you're messing with. :-)


Yeah, you're a grouch! But I hear what you're saying.

Yes, I know there would be an F chord instead of D7 (easy to do on the piano - discouraging on the guitar for little guys) remember we're talking BEGINNERS here. The D7 chord flows easily into the G chord, and sometimes beginners are using just a 3-string G chord for a long time. I never burden little kids with the F chord until they are past the stage of playing this song.

When my students get familiar with large numbers of chords, it is a simple matter to say, "Now we're going to play it in the key of A, and use a G chord instead of going to the V (five) chord."
Also, they do love to use a capo!

The melody is correct -- see the tab version directly underneath. Sometimes my graphics program (Snagit) mashes notes together when the document size is reduced, though it is very reliable generally. If you check out the PDF, you will see that the right notes are there.

I may put up a version in A with the secondary G chord, but making adaptations is part of being a well-rounded musician! I always tell kids that folk tunes, and nursery rhymes, change from one part of the country to another... this is one of the things that makes them part of the folk tradition. Thanks for your input.

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