Russell Brunelle (russellb) wrote,
Russell Brunelle

My 5/28/03 diary entry

Late last year I had the good fortune to tune into 89.5FM, our local non-commercial dance music station, during their pledge drive. Their pledge drive strategy was to keep replaying a rave remix of John Denver's song "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" until they met their fundraising goals.

But this pledge drive strategy brought up a question for me: "Just how long could I listen to the same annoying three minute song over and over without losing my mind?" Fortunately I had an MP3 file on hand of the song "Cotton Eye Joe" by the The Rednex, and listened to this song (over headphones) for about three hours at work the next day.

For reference, the lyrics of this song are as follows:

Cotton Eye Joe

If it hadn't been for Cotton-Eye Joe
I'd been married long time ago
Where did you come from where did you go
Where did you come from Cotton-Eye Joe
If it hadn't been...

If it hadn't been...
If it hadn't been...

He came to town like a midwinter storm
He rode through the fields so handsome and strong
His eyes was his tools and his smile was his gun
But all he had come for was having some fun

If it hadn't been...
If it hadn't been...

He brought disaster wherever he went
The hearts of the girls was to hell broken sent
They all ran away so nobody would know
and left only men cause of Cotton-Eye Joe

If it hadn't been...
If it hadn't been...

If it hadn't been...
If it hadn't been...

If it hadn't been...

I found this song endlessly fascinating, as its lyrics quite honestly raise more questions than they answer. The following are just a few examples:

  1. Did the people whom our protagonist Cotton Eye Joe ("CEJ" for short) seduced follow him to the next town?
  2. Was jealousy an issue, or did CEJ have personal boundaries such that this wasn't a concern for him?
  3. Who is the mysterious narrator, and is he either envious or disdainful of CEJ for his behavior?
  4. I wonder if there are any sub-genres of slash fiction in which the narrator of this song consummates some sort of affection for CEJ, and that THIS rather than CEJ leaving for the next town explains why the women all had "hearts ... to hell broken sent."

But at the end of the day, for me the most poignant question posed by this song is the eternal one: "Where did you come from where did you go?"

Indeed, where do we come from, and where do we go? Just as a generation ago AC/DC asked us, "Who made who? Who made you?", in urging us to reflect on the origins of life, so The Rednex asks us to consider the unknowns at the edges of our existence.


Cotton Eye Joe, for whom does the bell toll?

It tolls for thee.

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