Selected Liner Notes: Cisco Houston - The folkways years 1944-1961 back to "Diamond Joe" Background Info



Cisco Houston - The folkways years 1944-1961

(selected liner notes)

Posted by Seth Kulick

Smithsonian/Folkways, notes by Guy Logsdan:

[From Cowboy Ballads FA 2022, 1952; words[unknown], music adaptation of "The State of Arkansas"]:

"Diamond Joe" as sung by Cisco is more than an adaptation of a melody; the lyrics are also an adaptation of "The State of Arkansas." Arkansas has long been the target of humor, and even though John A. Lomax included the humorous song "The State of Arkansas" in the different editions of Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads, the version most widely known was Lee Hays's. Lomax also included a "Diamond Joe," but it is very different from this song. And the Southern prison song heard on Afro-American Blues and Game Songs (AFS L4) issued by the Library of Congress is also different from this one. Since Cisco's version is unique with him, it is speculated that either he or Lee Hays adapted it into a cowboy protest song. Lomax states that the Texan Diamond Joe "wore big diamond buttons on his vest."