Mr. Bojangles (song)
|Single by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band|
|from the album Uncle Charlie & His Dog Teddy|
|B-side||"Uncle Charlie Interview #2/Spanish Fandango" (later replaced with "Mr. Bojangles" w/o prologue)|
3:35 (without prologue)
|Writer(s)||Jerry Jeff Walker|
|The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band singles chronology|
"Mr. Bojangles" is a song originally written and recorded by American country music artist Jerry Jeff Walker for his 1968 album of the same title. Since then, it has been recorded by many other artists, including US country music band the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, whose version (recorded for the 1970 album Uncle Charlie & His Dog Teddy) was issued as a single and rose to number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart in 1971. Live versions of the song appeared on Walker's 1977 album, A Man Must Carry On and his 1980 album The Best of Jerry Jeff Walker.
The NGDB's single version begins with the Uncle Charlie interview (subtitled "Prologue: Uncle Charlie and his Dog Teddy") that also precedes the song on the Uncle Charlie album. This was originally backed with another interview with Uncle Charlie, also taken from the album. When "Mr. Bojangles" started climbing the charts, the B-side was re-pressed with the same song without the interview prologue. NGDB guitarist Jeff Hanna performed most of the lead vocals on the track, with bandmate Jim Ibbotson performing harmony vocals; the two switched these roles on the last verse.
Walker has said he was inspired to write the song after an encounter with a street performer in a New Orleans jail. While in jail for public intoxication in 1965, he met a homeless white man who called himself "Mr. Bojangles" (who, in turn, presumably took his pseudonym from performer Bill Robinson, who was likewise nicknamed "Bojangles") to conceal his true identity from the police. He had been arrested as part of a police sweep of indigent people that was carried out following a high-profile murder. The two men and others in the cell chatted about all manner of things, but when Mr. Bojangles told a story about his dog, the mood in the room turned heavy. Someone else in the cell asked for something to lighten the mood, and Mr. Bojangles obliged with a tap dance.
The song is notated in two time signatures: 3/4 and 6/8.
First recorded by friend and popular Austin performer Allen Wayne Damron, Walker's song has been recorded by many popular artists, including Garth Brooks, Kristofer Åström, Chet Atkins, Hugues Aufray (French version, 1984), Harry Belafonte, Bermuda Triangle Band, David Bromberg, Dennis Brown, JJ Cale, David Campbell, Bobby Cole, Edwyn Collins, Jim Croce, Jamie Cullum, King Curtis, Sammy Davis Jr., John Denver, Neil Diamond, Cornell Dupree, Bob Dylan, Arlo Guthrie, Tom T. Hall, John Holt, Whitney Houston, Queen Ifrica, Billy Joel, Dave Jarvis, Elton John, Frankie Laine, Lulu, Rod McKuen, Don McLean, MC Neat, Bebe Neuwirth, Harry Nilsson, Dolly Parton, Johnny Paycheck, Esther Phillips, Ray Quinn, Mike Schank, Helge Schneider, Nina Simone, Todd Snider, Cat Stevens, Jim Stafford, Jud Strunk, Radka Toneff, Robbie Williams and Paul Winter.
In an episode of The Simpsons titled "Milhouse Doesn't Live Here Anymore", Homer sings a version of the song while panhandling.
Jerry Jeff Walker
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100||77|
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
|Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)||28|
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100||9|
|Canada Country Tracks (RPM)||68|
- Hanna, Jeff (2013). "The Making of The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's 'Mr. Bojangles.' " Grammy.com (December 27, 2013). Retrieved 5-29-2016.
- Walker, Jerry Jeff (2000). Gypsy Songman. Woodford Press. ISBN 978-0-942627-57-2.
- The Man Who Was Bojangles. BBC Radio 4. 11.30, August 23, 2008
- Jud Strunk, Jud Strunk's Downeast Viewpoint Retrieved June 19, 2016.
- "Nederlandse Top 40 – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40.
- "Top RPM Country Tracks: Issue 1592." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. August 10, 1991. Retrieved September 8, 2013.
- Lyrics at oldielyrics.com