Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Mr. Bojangles files

Mr. Bojangles (song)

"Mr. Bojangles" is a popular song written and initially recorded by Jerry Jeff Walker in 1968 and covered since by many other artists. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band took the song to #9 on the Billboard pop chart in 1971.

The song was inspired by an encounter with a street performer in the New Orleans first precinct jail. Although this man could tap dance, the inspiration for the song was not the famous stage and movie dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, nor the New Orleans blues musician Babe Stovall).

According to Walker, a murder on the July 4th weekend of 1965, precipitated the arrest of all the street people in the area. In the crowded cell, a dishevelled, old, homeless man got talking to Walker, who had been arrested earlier in the day. The man told various stories of his life, but the tone darkened after 'Mr Bojangles' recalled his dog who had been run over. Someone then asked for something to lighten the mood and the man obliged with a tap dance.

Walker mentions that all the men in the cell had nicknames, to prevent easy identification by the police. The dancer's name, or handle, was Mr Bojangles, no doubt after Bill Robinson. In his autobiography 'Gypsy Songman', Walker makes it clear the man he met was white. Further, in an interview with BBC Radio 4 in August 2008, he pointed out that at the time the jail cells in New Orleans were segregated along color lines, so his influence could not have been black.

From Wikipedia

Listen to ...

Neil Diamond
Nina Simone

  • 1. Mr. Bojangles (Bob Dylan)
  • 2. Mr. Bojangles (David Bromberg)
  • 3. Mr. Bojangles (Harry Belafonte)
  • 4. Mr. Bojangles (Original Mono Single Version) (Jerry Jeff Walker)
  • 5. Mr. Bojangles (John Denver)
  • 6. Mr. Bojangles (John Holt)
  • 7. Mr. Bojangles (King Curtis)
  • 8. Mr. Bojangles (Michael Buble)
  • 9. Mr. Bojangles (Neil Diamond)
  • 10. Mr. Bojangles (Nina Simone)
  • 11. Mr. Bojangles (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band)
  • 12. Mr. Bojangles (Ray Quinn)
  • 13. Mr. Bojangles (Richard Fleeshman)
  • 14. Mr. Bojangles (Robbie Williams)
  • 15. Mr. Bojangles (Sammy Davis Jr.)
  • 16. Mr. Bojangles (The Birds)
  • 17. Mr. Bojangles (The Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr.)

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