Jack of Diamonds (song)

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Jack of Diamonds (a.k.a. Jack o' Diamonds and Jack of Diamonds (Is a Hard Card to Play)) is a traditional folk song. It is a Texas gambling song that was popularized by Blind Lemon Jefferson.[1] It was sung by railroad men who had lost money playing conquian.[2] At least twelve white artists recorded the tune before World War II. It has been recorded under various titles such as "A Corn Licker Still in Georgia" (Riley Puckett) and "Rye Whiskey" (Tex Ritter).[3]

The song is related to "Drunkard's Hiccoughs",[4] "Johnnie Armstrong", "Todlen Hame", "Bacach", "Robi Donadh Gorrach", "The Wagoner's Lad", "Clinch Mountain", "The Cuckoo", "Rye Whiskey", "Saints Bound for Heaven", "Separation", and "John Adkins' Farewell."[5] This family of tunes originally comes from the British Isles, though is most well known in North America.[6] The lyrics may originate in the American Civil War song "The Rebel Soldier" and the melody from the Scottish song "Robie Donadh Gorrach", known by Nathaniel Gow as "An Old Highland Song".[7]

While Bob Dylan never recorded "Jack of Diamonds", a poem based on its lyrics is included on the back cover of Another Side of Bob Dylan, grouped with others under the title "Some Other Kinds of Songs".[8] The actor Ben Carruthers used this poem to create a song for his band Ben Carruthers and the Deep in 1965.


The following artists, among others, have included the song in their repertoire.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lomax, Alan (1941). John Avery Lomax; Alan Lomax; Ruth Crawford Seeger (eds.). Our singing country: folk songs and ballads. Courier Dover Publications. p. 303. ISBN 0-486-41089-7.
  2. ^ Urgo, Joseph R.; Abadie, Ann J. (2007). Faulkner's inheritance. Univ. Press of Mississippi. p. 64. ISBN 978-1-57806-953-8.
  3. ^ Laird, Tracey E. (1 December 2003). "Country Music Sources: A Biblio-Discography of Commercially Recorded Traditional Music". Library and Information Science.
  4. ^ Beisswenger, Drew; McCann, Gordon (2006). Ozarks Fiddle Music. Mel Bay Publications. p. 94. ISBN 0-7866-7730-9.
  5. ^ Samuel Bayard, Dance to the Fiddle, March to the Fife (University Park & London: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1982), p.567
  6. ^ Matteson Jr., Richard (2006). Bluegrass Picker's Tune Book. Mel Bay Publications. p. 196. ISBN 0-7866-7160-2.
  7. ^ "Jack O' Diamonds". Bluegrass Messengers. Retrieved 1 June 2011.
  8. ^ "Some Other Kinds of Songs"; Retrieved 07 Apr 2017.
  9. ^ Cohen, Norm (2005). Folk music: a regional exploration. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 55. ISBN 0-313-32872-2.