Original Song: public domain (pre-1860)
A pre-Civil-War slave fiddle number with malleable lyrics sometimes evidently about an abortionist and/or bootleg whiskey, “Cotton Eye(d) Joe” was born with a dance attached. By the middle of the 20th Century, Western Swing bandleaders like Bob Wills and Adolph Hofner had transformed it into one of Texas's favorite two-step selections.
Scores if not hundreds of renditions were recorded; by the '80s, a version by Isaac Payton Sweat featuring a crowd yelling out “bullshit!” was a line-dance mainstay. But in the '90s, this techno-grooving Stockholm cheesabilly quintet made it their crazy own, conquering charts the world over and perhaps prepping American ears for Big & Rich.