Pop Archives

Col Joye & The Joy Boys - (Rockin’ Rollin’) Clementine (1959)

(Kenneth Taylor)
Australia Australia
#1 Sydney #1 Melbourne #9 Brisbane #2 Adelaide #15 Perth

This differs from the American release: it was the second recording by Col Joye of (Rockin' Rollin') Clementine, this time specifically for Australian release (see story below).

Writer credit is to Ken Taylor, the A&R man who signed Col Joye to Festival.

The song is a hip rewrite of the old Californian Gold Rush song, with a new melody that ditches the familiar waltz time. Compare these lyrics:

Clementine: In a cavern, in a canyon/ Excavating for a mine/ Dwelt a miner, forty niner/ And his daughter Clementine/…Drove she ducklings to the water/ Ev'ry morning just at nine/ Hit her foot against a splinter/ Fell into the foaming brine… (lyrics at the 'Contemplator' website.)

(Rockin' Rollin') Clementine: In a cavern, crazy cavern, excavatin' for a mine/ Lived a daddy of all daddies and a chick named Clementine/ She drove the jeep down to the juke joint/ Every evenin' just at nine/ Hoppin' Boppin', struttin' strollin'/ Rockin' rollin', Clementine…"

The National Archives of Australia has a scan of the sheet music online.

Col Joye was a pioneering Aussie pop star of the rock'n'roll era (b. Colin Jacobsen, 1937) who in 1957 joined his brother Kevin's jazz band that was to become Col Joye and the Joy Boys. He had ten Top 10 hits in the Sydney charts alone from May 1959 to May 1962, including four #1s, and was a star on television pop show Bandstand. Something of a legend in Australia, his rock'n'roll suit is on display at Sydney's Powerhouse Museum.

Further reading: See, for example, the Col Joye bio at AllMusic.

Feature suggested by Terry Stacey. Thank you to Tony Watson for clarification.

Col Joye & The Joy Boys - (Rockin’ Rollin’) Clementine (1959)

(Kenneth Taylor)
USA (recorded in Australia)USA (recorded in Australia) USA (recorded in Australia)

Original version in this form

US single on Decca label with Bye Bye Baby (Goodbye) as the B-side. (American sources often show Col Joye as ‘Colonel Joye’, a mistaken reading of the abbreviation ‘Col’ for ‘Colin’.)

This version was recorded before the Australian release. It differs in tempo, and omits the half-spoken introduction and echo of the Australian version.

After this was recorded, Festival A&R man Ken Taylor (also in the writer credit) mistakenly sent the master tape to the US, leaving the Australian end without a copy, so the song was recorded again for Australian release.

Thanks to Tony Watson & Earl Mitchell.

Tom Lehrer - Clementine (1959)

(Montrose/Bradford, parodied by Tom Lehrer)

On An Evening Wasted With Tom Lehrer. Satirist Tom Lehreri magines how the song might have sounded if it had been written by the likes of Cole Porter and Gilbert & Sullivan.

See Lehrer’s lyrics and commentary at Lyrics Freak.

Lehrer’s cool jazz version of the lyrics may even be bordering on the territory of Col Joye’s update: Drove those ducklings to the water/ Yeah brach! doddley doo doo uh ah!/ Evry morning like 9am/ Ooh pah! de do de do do do, biddley da!/ Got hung up on a splinter, got a-hung up on a splinter

Bobby Darin - Clementine (1960)

(Woody Harris)
#21 USA #8 UK #33 Sydney #28 Brisbane #12 Adelaide

Original version with these lyrics

Recorded in 1956, released in 1960. Single on Atco label.

The writer, Woody Harris (1911-1985), wrote or co-wrote a number of songs recorded by Bobby Darin, including Queen Of The Hop and Early In The Morning.

Clementine was arranged by Richard Wess, produced by Ahmet Ertegun. Details at BobbyDarin.com, including the lyrics.

The lyrics in this version:

In a cavern/ Down by a canyon/ Excavatin' for a mine/ There lived a miner/ From North Carolina/ And… his daughter/ Clementine. Now, every mornin'/ Yeah… just about dawnin'/ When the sun/ Began to shine/ You know she would rouse up/ Wake all-a-dem cows up/ And… walk 'em down to her Daddy's mine. I took the footbridge/ Way 'cross the water/ Though she weighed/ Two ninety-nine/ The old bridge trembled/ And disassembled… oops!/ Dumped her into the foamy brine.

“huckleberry Hound” - Clementine (1958)

(Percy Montrose [also attrib. to Barker Bradford])

In the cartoon series The Huckleberry Hound Show (1958-1962), HH was fond of breaking into Clementine, even if he didn’t know the lyrics properly. As IMDb puts it, Huckleberry Hound is a blue-haired Southern dog with a fondness for the song, My Darling, Clementine

Thanks to Dave Overett

[published Manuscript] - Clementine (1884)

(Percy Montrose [also attrib. to Barker Bradford])

Original version in this form

The lyrics are borrowed from Down By The River Lived A Maiden, but:
(1) they have been rewritten (for example the miner, the forty-niner, is added);
(2) it has a new (now familiar) melody.

See scan of the 1884 sheet music cover at stephen-foster-songs.de.

The song seems to have been reworked by numerous hands over the years. See, for example, this sheet music from 1885 by Barker Bradford at the American Memory website.

Montrose’s name is misspelt ‘Montross’ at many websites.

Also known as Oh My Darling, Clementine.

Further reading: see the Wikipedia entry on this song.

[published Manuscript] - Down By The River Lived A Maiden (1863)

(H.S. Thompson)
Original version: published work

This is the source – at least for the lyrics – of Clementine.
(See, for example, the ‘Contemplator’ website or the Wikipedia entry.)

The sheet music can be seen online at the Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music.

The lyrics tell the same basic story, of Clementine slipping and drowning in the river, but there is no mention of her dad the miner and his excavations. (From the language and the humour it appears to be a minstrel-style song.) The chorus is familiar: Oh! my Clema, Oh! my Clema, Oh! my darling Clementine, Now you are gone and lost forever, I’m drefful sorry Clementine.