Hey Joe

Hey Joe

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10 peculiar folk themes from the 60s

When he delivers a song that later becomes popular, the singer-songwriter is just its creator and first performer. He has no control over how others will fix it and the song's later life is quite another story. The secondary fate experienced by each of the ten folk themes below is instructive in this regard:


A controversial folk song made famous by Jimi Hendrix

The song ‘Hey Joe’ was recorded and copyrighted in 1962 by Billy Roberts and became a favourite among West Coast musicians by 1965-66.

It was recorded and released by Jimi Hendrix as his first single in December 1966 and quickly became a world hit. It was then covered by numerous bands and singers, some of whom claimed that the song was a traditional folk theme, as credited on the records of Tim Rose and Jimi Hendrix. In 2009, Niela Miller released her unpublished 1962 own recordings and asserted that Billy Roberts was indeed the original composer of  the song ‘Hey Joe’, which had drawn inspiration from her own song Baby please don’t go to town’.

1961  ∙  Billy Roberts  ∙  1962  ∙  Billy Roberts  ∙  Nov. 1965  ∙  The Leaves  ∙  Apr. 1966  ∙  Love  ∙  May 1966  ∙  Tim Rose  ∙  The Standells  ∙  Jun. 1966  ∙  The Surfaris  ∙  Jul. 1966  ∙  The Byrds  ∙  Dec. 1966  ∙  The Jimi Hendrix Experience  ∙  The Roks  ∙  The Music Machine  ∙  1967  ∙  Cher  ∙  Johnny Halliday (French ver.)  ∙  1968  ∙  Deep Purple  ∙  1969  ∙  Wilson Pickett  ∙ 1974  ∙  Patti Smith  ∙  1983  ∙  Soft Cell  ∙  2011 ∙  Popa Chubby  ∙



Hey Joe, Where you goin' with that gun in your hand?
Hey Joe, I said, where you goin' with that gun in your hand?
I'm going down to shoot my old lady
You know, I've caught her messin' around with another man (yeah)
And that ain't too cool
Hey Joe, I heard you shot your woman down, shot her down, now
Hey Joe, I heard you shot your old lady down
You shot her down to the ground (yeah). Yes I did, I shot her
You know, I caught her messin' 'round, messin' 'round town. Yes I did, I shot her
You know, I caught my old lady messin' around town. And I gave her the gun. I shot her!
Alright. Shoot her one more time, baby
Yeah, oh. Hey Joe, said now. Where you gonna run to now? Where you gonna run to?
Hey Joe, I said. Where you gonna run to now? Where you, where you gonna go?
Well, dig it. I'm goin' way down south. Way down to Mexico way. Alright
I'm goin' way down south. Way down where I can be free. Ain't no one gonna find me.
Ain't no hangman gonna. He ain't gonna put a rope around me. You better believe it right now, I gotta go now
Hey Joe. You better run on down. Goodbye everybody. Hey Joe