May 11

The Tale Of The Survivalist “Ko-Ko Joe” By “Good Ol’ Boy” Jerry Reed

Jerry Reed

Do you still remember the story of “Ko-Ko Joe” illustrated in a song by Jerry Reed? Perhaps, yes, and perhaps, many don’t know its history. Besides, the story is more interesting with the voice and talent of the one and only Jerry Reed. With this, let us recall the story by listening to Jerry Reed. This will remind us of the “Good Ol’ Boy.”

The Story…

It happened in Appaloosa County, a place called Ko-Ko Ridge. It’s on the bend of Etowah River. There was a boy named Ko-Ko Joe, people of the village stay away from him because they think he’s crazy. They call him swamp rat, and they despise him. Perhaps, people don’t understand Ko-Ko Joe.

Furthermore, Ko-Ko Joe is described as a long-haired, dirty-clothed survivalist who drinks homemade brew and eats exotic meats. Ko-Ko Joe lives on his own.

Ko-Ko Joe survived when his mother pulled him from the flood waters when the dam on the river burst. It washed away everything around. It wasn’t mentioned what happened to his mother, but it’s clearly understood, she died, perhaps due to disease or accident or maybe the flood.

After the devastating casualty, Ko-Ko Joe started to survive all by himself. He grew up without anyone beside him. Imagine living life alone, without somebody to rely on. It must have been the hardest thing on earth. But for Ko-Ko Joe, he’s used to it, and he’s got to overpower the struggles.

The story of Ko-Ko Joe is miserable. But, he is an epitome of a person who can survive despite the uncertainties in life. Perhaps, this is a story we can relate to. Living in this cruel world is truly difficult, but somehow, it’s the life we choose to live, and we need to go through it to be able to survive. Learn from it as they say.

The Lyrics…

Way up in Appaloosa County there’s a place called Ko-ko ridge

Sets a right on the bend on the Etowah River where the water washed away the bridge

Cotton Mouth Country, a river rats, knee high

Way up around the back border lived a man that the river folks talked about

They said you better stay away from Ko-Ko Joe cause he’s crazy no account

Ko-Ko Joe, they called him the Etowah River swamp rat and folks despised him

Ko-Ko Joe, he was an awfully peculiar man the river was his only friend

And the folks didn’t understand the man Ko-Ko Joe

He eats monkey mean mashed potatoes he drunk a brew called the Mojo Claw

That he beat outta roots from dead stumps on the banks of the Etowah

Made him walk a little funny made his breath smell funky

Well he never came across the river cause the folks didn’t like him in town

They said his hair was long his clothes were dirty they didn’t want him hanging around

Ko-Ko Joe, they called him the Etowah River swamp rat and folks despised him…

Well it happened a year ago Sunday, and they still talk about it today

How the dam broke loose on the Etowah River nearly washin’ everybody away

Son the river water risin’ washing up all the bushes

Well the headlines read how a mother said my son would have lost his life

But he was pulled from the mud in the Etowah River by the man y’all despise

The Song…

Jerry Reed, himself penned “Ko-Ko Joe.” It was released in August 1971 as the lead single from his album “Ko-Ko Joe.” It topped the country charts that year. On the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, it placed at No.11. The song was Reed’s follow-up to his No.1 song “When You’re Hot, you’re Hot.”

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Jerry Reed, Ko-Ko Joe, When you're hot you're hot

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