Won't You Come Home Bill Bailey

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
1902 sheet music cover

"(Won't You Come Home) Bill Bailey", originally titled "Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home?" is a popular song published in 1902. It is commonly referred to as simply "Bill Bailey".

Its words and music were written by Hughie Cannon (1877–1912), an American songwriter and pianist. It is still a standard with Dixieland and traditional jazz bands. The simple 32-bar chord sequence of its chorus also underpins many other tunes played mainly by jazz bands, such as "Over the Waves", "Washington and Lee Swing", "Bourbon Street Parade", "My Little Girl", and the final themes of "Tiger Rag" and "The Beer Barrel Polka".

Excerpt of jazz band version by Kid Ory, 1946, chorus only.


It was a #1 hit for Arthur Collins in July 1902. Among the artists who have covered the song are Louis Armstrong, Kid Ory, Patsy Cline, Bobby Darin, Aretha Franklin from Take a Look (1967), Brenda Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Jimmy Durante, Phish, Danny Barker, Harry Connick Jr, Renee Olstead, Michael Bublé, Sam Cooke, Al Hirt[1] and others. Singer and actress Della Reese recorded the song in 1961, and it entered the Billboard Hot 100 at number #98, and became a part of her performance repertoire. In Britain the Edwardian music hall star Victoria Monks (1884–1927) popularised the song in 1905 and thereafter it became her most demanded and remembered song.

Most commonly it is performed in a truncated version based on the chorus. While the chorus is much more familiar than the verse, some artists continue to perform the verse as well, sometimes as an introduction. Without the lyrics of the seldom heard verse, one doesn't know who Bill Bailey is nor why he isn't home. (An unusual approach is Bobby Darin's version, as he added his own spoken word introduction, as an aside to the mythical Bailey.)


The Jewish-American parodist Allan Sherman recorded a parody of this song on his 1963 album My Son, the Celebrity, entitled "Won't You Come Home Disraeli?"

In the "Miss Solar System" episode of The Jetsons, first aired February 3, 1963, Jane belts out "Won't You Fly Home Bill Spacely" in Hanna-Barbera's own parody of the song. Hanna-Barbera (with Cartoon Network Studios) makes more frequent use of the song throughout its Johnny Bravo cartoon series.

Children's performer Tom Chapin recorded a version of this song on his album Some Assembly Required.

In The Simpsons episode "Whacking Day", Grampa Simpson is featured posing as a female cabaret singer in Nazi Germany, singing this song to Adolf Hitler.

The 1980 Smurfs album, "Smurfing Sing Song", includes a version of this song entitled "Smurf Baby" which is the "Won't You Come Home Bill Bailey" chorus repeated and the name "Bill Bailey" is replaced with "Smurf Baby".

Sandler & Young recorded a 20-minute medley where Bill Bailey is adapted to England, France, Switzerland, Nashville, Italian opera, Bach, Israel (with Jewish jokes), and climaxing with the U.S.A.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Al Hirt, Beauty and the Beard Retrieved April 10, 2013.

External links[edit]

Full lyric:

Traditional arrangement (from the "Historic American Sheet Music" site):