21 Songs About Joe – The Very Best List

Whatever the subject of the song, when you hear a song about Joe, you can be sure that it will be about someone who is special to the singer.

It is common practice for musicians to use the names of real individuals in their compositions in order to provide an air of authenticity to their work; nevertheless, some names are more widely known than others.

Joe is one of those names that comes up in conversation numerous times over the course of a discussion. Joe is a popular subject for songs, with many artists writing about their personal experiences with the man.

The name “Joe” is a very common name, so there are many songs about people named Joe. There are many other songs about Joe, but these 21 are some of the most well-known and impactful.

Nr Song Artist About
1 Hold Em Joe Ziggy Marley Learn More
2 Hey Joe Jimi Hendrix Learn More
3 Cotton Eye Joe Rednex Learn More
4 Old Joe The Guess Who Learn More
5 Joe The Lion David Bowie Learn More
6 Darryl And Joe Run-D.M.C. Learn More
7 Joe’s Head Kings Of Leon Learn More
8 Ode to Billie Joe Bobbie Gentry Learn More
9 Walkaway Joe Trisha Yearwood Learn More
10 Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe Tony Bennett Learn More
11 Diamond Joe Sam Bush Learn More
12 Poppa Joe The Sweet Learn More
13 I Had A Dream, Joe Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Learn More
14 Hank and Joe and Me Johnny Cash Learn More
15 Say It Ain’t So Joe Murray Head Learn More
16 Joe’s Turkey Fatlip Learn More
17 Lookout Joe Neil Young Learn More
18 Joe Kirby Blues John Fahey Learn More
19 Viva Bobby Joe The Equals Learn More
20 Sleepy Joe Smog Learn More
21 Joe’s Garage Frank Zappa Learn More


21 Songs About Joe

Whether you’re looking for a heartwarming ballad or an upbeat anthem, there’s probably a song about Joe that fits your preferences. Here are just a few of the many songs about Joe that have been released over the years.


1. Hold Em Joe – Ziggy Marley

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The first song on the list comes from Ziggy Marley, son of famous Jamaican reggae singer, Bob Marley. The song tells the story of a guy named Joe who is having a rough time with his donkey.

The donkey constantly wants water, doesn’t walk straight, doesn’t want to work at all, and doesn’t like having things weighing on him.

Even though it doesn’t make much sense, it doesn’t have to, implied Ziggy Marley in an interview: ” ..we always used to bang out on the instruments out there in the yard. We go and sing, don’t even matter what note… I just go and open my mouth and bawl it out.”

Recommended: 15 Best Songs About Being 22.


2. Hey Joe – Jimi Hendrix

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“Hey Joe” is a song written by rock singer Billy Roberts and recorded by numerous artists. One of the best-known versions was recorded by Jimi Hendrix in October 1966.

Hendrix’s version became a hit in the United Kingdom, entering the Top 10 of the UK Singles Chart in January 1967 and peaking at No. 6.

This song is not for the faint of heart, as it tells the story of a man who killed his wife after finding out she was cheating on him. He then is on a run and planning to head to Mexico in order to escape his punishment.


3. Cotton Eye Joe – Rednex

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“Cotton Eye Joe” is a very famous folk song that originated in the American south. Though the exact origins of the song are unknown, it is thought to date back to the 19th century.

The song became popular in the early 1990s when it was recorded by the Swedish group Rednex. The group’s version of the song topped charts around the world and has since become a classic of country and pop music. “Cotton Eye Joe” is a catchy tune with simple lyrics.


4. Old Joe – The Guess Who

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“Old Joe” is a song by the Canadian rock band The Guess Who. It was released as a single in 1969 and peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song is about an old man finally returning home after working outside for years and years.

The man, old and weary returns home unsuccessful, with “So many worries, broken dreams and fears, hurting things that people said.”

This tune has a dark theme that can be seen in the lyrics: “He don’t remember mama / His mama never saw his face / The wounds he suffered from an angry, bitter world / Are something time cannot erase”.


5. Joe The Lion – David Bowie

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Written and recorded in 1977, “Joe the Lion” is a song by English musician David Bowie. The song was included on Bowie’s album “Heroes”. Joe the Lion is an unusual song in Bowie’s catalog, both musically and lyrically.

This song is in part a tribute to American conceptual artist Chris Burden, who once famously nailed himself to a Volkswagen Beetle. Bowie wrote the lyrics in Berlin’s Hansa Studio: “Joe the lion / Went to the bar / A couple of drinks on the house and he said / ‘Tell you who you are if you nail me to my car'”.


6. Darryl And Joe – Run-D.M.C.

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If you’re in the mood for some old hip hop tunes then Darryl And Joe by Run-D.M.C. is the right one for you. It’s a song by the American hip hop group Run-D.M.C., released as part of their album King of Rock in 1985.

The song captures perfectly the old era of hip hop and is sure to give nostalgia to our older viewers.


7. Joe’s Head – Kings Of Leon

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“Joe’s Head” is a song by the American rock band Kings of Leon. It was released as the third single from their album, Youth and Young Manhood, in 2003. It is a Bluegrass-sounding rock song that the band adapted from an old folk song.

It tells the story some a man finding out that his lover had cheated on him and then killing them both, his lover and the guy who she cheated on him with. It is very similar to Jimi Hendrix’s “Hey Joe” that we mentioned before.


8. Ode to Billie Joe – Bobbie Gentry

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“Ode to Billie Joe” is a country song by American singer-songwriter Bobbie Gentry released by Capitol Records in July 1967.

After its release, it appeared on a lot of Top Charts, including number one on Billboard’s Pop singles chart,  top 10 on the Adult Contemporary and Hot R&B singles charts, and top 20 on the Hot Country Songs list.

The song is a first-person story that describes how a small-town Mississippi family reacts to hearing about the suicide of Billie Joe McAllister, a boy who lived nearby and is connected to the daughter and the narrator.

Recommended: 21 Best Songs About The One Who Got Away.


9. Walkaway Joe – Trisha Yearwood

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“Walkaway Joe” is a song by country music singer Trisha Yearwood, recorded as the second single from her 1992 album Hearts in Armor.

Country music singer Trisha Yearwood’s 1992 song “Walkaway Joe” tells the story of two friends, Joe and Ned, who head west from Nashville in search of fame and fortune. It reached number 2 on the U.S. Billboard country charts.

This mid-tempo ballad tells the story of a failed relationship initiated by an over-eager 17-year-old girl “Such are the dreams of an average Jane / Ninety miles an hour down lovers’ lane” and a boy that isn’t respectable “That boy’s just a Walkaway Joe / Born to be a leaver / Tell you from the word “go” / Destined to deceive her”.


10. Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe – Tony Bennett

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Tony Bennett is one of the most popular singers of his generation, with a career that spans over six decades. In 1969, he recorded the song “Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe,” and released it in 1961 on the album “Tony Sings For Two”.

The song is about a great man named Joe, who brings love, joy, and happiness to everyone he meets. “Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe” is a timeless classic that continues to resonate with listeners today.


11. Diamond Joe – Sam Bush

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“Diamond Joe” is actually a very old song with recordings dating back to 1929. Sam Bush is the latest recording of the song, and it came out in 2009 as part of his album Circles Around Me.

The song is about a real person that lived, by the name of Diamond Joe Reynolds. Diamond Joe was a Texas cattleman, the story goes, so rich that he was said to wear diamonds for his vest buttons. In the song, the singer is complaining about the terrible services provided by Diamond Joe and how much of a bad person he is.


12. Poppa Joe – The Sweet

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“Poppa Joe” is a song by the British rock band The Sweet, released in 1971 as the lead single from the group’s second album, Funny How Sweet Co-Co Can Be.

This straightforward song about Poppa Joe is a fond recollection of all the fun times his arrival meant for the town’s residents as he brought delights like coconut rum along.


13. I Had A Dream, Joe – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

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“I Had A Dream, Joe” is a song by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. It was part of their album Henry’s Dream in 1992. It was released as a single in 1992 by Mute Records.

The song is about a weird dream that the singer had about his friend Joe, and the bizarre events that occurred in that dream.


14. Hank and Joe and Me – Johnny Cash

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“Hank and Joe and Me” is a song written by Johnny Cash, originally released on his album Songs of Our Soil in 1959. The song tells the story of 3 men: Johnny and his 2 friends, Hank and Joe, searching for gold in the deserts.

Suffering for days and nights in intense heat and with no water, Cash becomes thirsty and weak and cannot continue anymore. His friends recognize he’s dying and let him be, only to join him in the afterlife later. The song gives the message that in order to achieve the things you want, you have to endure hardships.


15. Say It Ain’t So Joe – Murray Head

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Say It Ain’t So Joe is a song written by Murray Head and produced by Paul Samwell-Smith. The song was released in 1975 as the first track from the album Say It Ain’t So.

“The song”, said Murray Head “is about heroes and their “Clay feet’. It is also a plea from myself to the kind of ‘Joe Public’ who in fear of losing face, refuse to relinquish their faith in a fallen idol.”

Recommended: What Music Calms Dogs?


16. Joe’s Turkey – Fatlip

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“Joe’s Turkey” by Fatlip is a song about the difficulties of life and how they can seem insurmountable at times. The song opens with the line “I came a long way, brought up the wrong way / My life used to be fucked, that’s all I’m gon’ say” which sets the tone for the rest of the song.

Despite his struggles in life, the hip-hop star Fatlip is determined to “Get money, make money by any means / Whatever that means, no more pork and beans”. It is a very inspiring and cool song that some of us can relate to.


17. Lookout Joe – Neil Young

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The next song about Joe on the list is Neil Young’s blues-rock tune, “Lookout Joe”. Veterans of Vietnam are the subject of the song. The phrase “GI Joe,” which stands for “government issue” or “general issue,” was still a common slang for US soldiers.

Since then, the phrase has become less common, most likely as a result of the enormous success of the G.I. Joe action figure and cartoon franchise. The song serves as a warning to GIs that the streets can no longer be trusted in modern times.

Sure, “old times were good times,” but this isn’t the past, and Joe needs to be on the watch to avoid falling victim to the same cycle of addiction and waste that so many Vietnam veterans experienced.


18. Joe Kirby Blues – John Fahey

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“Joe Kirby Blues” is a folk song performed by American musician John Fahey, part of his album Days Have Gone By (1967). The song is all instrumental so there’s not much to be said about its lyrics. This song is a great choice if you’re trying to relax and get your mind off something.


19. Viva Bobby Joe – The Equals

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“Viva Bobby Joe” is a song written by British rock band The Equals. The song was released as a single in 1968, as a track of their album, Baby Come Back. Their song hit the top 10 on UK charts.

It’s a song that praises a person named Bobby Joe and his “funk machine”. Joe seems to have been an artist and people didn’t have faith in him in the beginning, but “…he made the big time, baby”, and the people are thrilled for his arrival back home, as he promised he’s going to “…do an open-air show for free”.


20. Sleepy Joe – Smog

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“Sleepy Joe” is a song by American singer-songwriter Bill Callahan, also known as Smog. It was released in 1995 as the eighth track from the album, Wild Love.

The song tells the story of a man named Joe who puts sleep above everything else, and as a consequence time passes very fast for him.


21. Joe’s Garage – Frank Zappa

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The last song on our list of songs about Joe is a three-part rock opera by American musician Frank Zappa, from the album with the same name. The “Central Scrutinizer” (a character in the story) narrates the tale of Joe, a typical adolescent male from Canoga Park, Los Angeles.

Joe forms a garage rock band, has unsatisfying relationships with women, donates all of his money to an unreliable religion supported by the government, explores sexual activities with appliances, and is imprisoned.

He succumbs to madness after being freed from prison into a dystopian future where music has been criminalized. “Joe’s Garage” is truly a great song to listen to.


Last Words

Joe is a common name in songs. There are many different types of Joe songs. These songs can be happy, sad, or angry. Many musicians have written songs about their experiences with people named Joe.

Although the name Joe appears in many song lyrics, it is difficult to say what these songs really mean. The popularity of the name may be attributed to its simplicity or because it rhymes with so many other words.

Some people say that the name Joe is often used as a metaphor for someone who is average or unremarkable. Others think that the name refers to specific people that the songwriter has interacted with. In the end, it all depends on the context of the song.


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Music is the lifeblood of my veins. I love to listen, play and write music. Being a music band manager is what I love to do mostly because I love working with artists on their personal branding and brand building while helping them find the next level of success.

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