Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now)

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This article is about the 1924 Yellen / Ager song, not the "Big Bad Bill" song recorded by Spike Jones

"Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now)" is a song with music by Milton Ager and lyrics by Jack Yellen, written in 1924.[1] The song became a vocal hit for Margaret Young accompanied by Rube Bloom, and an instrumental hit for the Don Clark Orchestra.[1] The song has also been recorded by Ernest Hare (1924),[2] Billy Murray (1924), Clementine Smith (1924), Emmett Miller (1929), Glen Gray & the Casa Loma Orchestra (1940), Peggy Lee (1962), Merle Haggard (1973), Ry Cooder (1978), Leon Redbone (1978), Van Halen (1982) and others[3] and has been a popular song in barbershop quartet and chorus competitions.[4][5]

The lyrics describe a man "in the town of Louisville..." who was once a fearsome and rough character known for getting into fights, who, after getting married, becomes a peaceable person who devotes his time to domestic activities such as washing dishes and mopping the floor.


  • Sugar 'n' Spice (1962) Peggy Lee
  • I Love Dixie Blues (1973) Merle Haggard
  • Balladtown USA presents 30 Years of Barbershop Harmony (1975) Various / The Lions Share
  • Jazz (1978) Ry Cooder[6]
  • Champagne Charlie (1978) Leon Redbone
  • Diver Down (1982) Van Halen
  • Bursting With Pride, Pride Of Baltimore Chorus[7]
  • 2009 International Barbershop Harmony Society Quartet Contest, Vol. 1 (2009) Various / The Harmonious Hunks

In film:


  1. ^ a b Jasen, David A. (2002). A Century of American Popular Music: 2000 Best-Loved and Remembered Songs (1899-1999). New York: Routledge. p. 21. ISBN 0-415-93700-0. Retrieved 2008-09-30. 
  2. ^ Blue Amberol Records 4947 (1924 Edison cylinder) Ernest Hare
  3. ^ "Big Bad Bill is Sweet William Now" at (link). Accessed 2011 January 2
  4. ^ Balladtown USA presents 30 Years of Barbershop Harmony (1975) RCS Records RCS-71, 1975 All Northwest Barbershop Ballad Contest, Forest Grove, OR - "The Lions Share"
  5. ^ Naked Voice Records NVR 409 (link)
  6. ^ Warner Brothers Records BSK 3197
  7. ^ CD 5608 at (link)