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Harry Belafonte

Hold 'Em Joe

  • Folk
  • Country
  • Space
  • Pop
  • Jazz
song from
  • 1954
  • 1956
  • 1957
  • 2000
  • 1960

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“Matilda” is a calypso (sometimes spelled Mathilda) lamenting a woman who took a man for all he was worth. The song dates back to at least the 1930s, when calypso pioneer King Radio (the stage name of Norman Span) recorded the song. Harry Belafonte recorded the song in 1953 and it became a big hit. Some songwriting credits are given as Harry Thomas (rumoured to be a pseudonym combining Harry Belafonte and his guitarist, Millard Thomas, but ASCAP simply lists Harry Thomas alias Harry Belafonte, the writer of “Hold ‘em Joe”), some credits are given as Norman Span. Harry Belafonte’s first recording of the song was on April 27, 1953. The oft-repeated phrase in his rendition of the song is like the following, emphasizing the syllables of the subject’s name as shown: :Hey!... Read on...

Song lines: ♪ Me donkey want water (hold em, Joe ... You breaking my back bone ... Lemme go, darling Melda

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More songs by Harry Belafonte (See Charts): Jump In The Line, Mary'S Boy Child, and Banana Boat Song.

Popular in Oldies (See Charts): You'Ve Lost That Lovin' Feelin', Runaway, Those Were The Days, The Great Pretender, Mr. Sandman, Jingle, Jangle, Jingle, Mr. Lonely, It'S My Party, This Diamond Ring, and Woody Woodpecker.


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