Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafesj

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home

Tune Req: Lookin' for the bully of the town


Related threads:
Lyr Add: The Bully Song (11)
'Bully of the Town' - mystery word (24)
Lyr Req: 'Row On' & 'Bully Song' (9)

GUEST,Blind desert Pete 15 Feb 00 - 04:22 PM
Sorcha 15 Feb 00 - 05:52 PM
Sorcha 15 Feb 00 - 06:20 PM
dick greenhaus 15 Feb 00 - 07:27 PM
Sorcha 15 Feb 00 - 08:04 PM
Nathan in Texas 15 Feb 00 - 10:09 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 16 Feb 00 - 01:22 AM
GUEST, John C. Thoma 20 Nov 01 - 09:42 PM
Stewie 20 Nov 01 - 10:11 PM
Joe Offer 20 Nov 01 - 10:14 PM
Joe Offer 20 Nov 01 - 10:19 PM
Lin in Kansas 20 Nov 01 - 11:37 PM
Lin in Kansas 20 Nov 01 - 11:40 PM
masato sakurai 21 Nov 01 - 01:08 AM
Joe Offer 21 Nov 01 - 03:03 AM
Louie Roy 28 May 02 - 01:45 PM
GUEST 22 Nov 07 - 10:16 PM
Goose Gander 22 Nov 07 - 10:20 PM
Share Thread
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum Child
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:

Subject: LR req Bully of the town
From: GUEST,Blind desert Pete
Date: 15 Feb 00 - 04:22 PM

Messages from multiple threads combined.
-Joe Offer-

Click for lyrics in the Digital Tradition

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: LR req Bully of the town
From: Sorcha
Date: 15 Feb 00 - 05:52 PM

I've got the fiddle tune--didn't know it had words.

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: LR req Bully of the town
From: Sorcha
Date: 15 Feb 00 - 06:20 PM

I'll be danged...found 'em at
Looking for that bully,
Bully of that town;
Looking for that bully,
That bully can't be found.
I'm looking for that bully of the town

When I walk this levee round and round
Every day I may be found
When I walk this levee roun
I'm looking for that bully of the town.

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: LR req Bully of the town
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 15 Feb 00 - 07:27 PM

If you enter [Bully of the Town] in the Lyrics search box, guess what you'll find.

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: LR req Bully of the town
From: Sorcha
Date: 15 Feb 00 - 08:04 PM

Oh no, duped again!

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: Lyr Add: BULLY OF THE TOWN (Charles E. Trevathan)
From: Nathan in Texas
Date: 15 Feb 00 - 10:09 PM

Evidently "Bully" was a big hit in 1896. The Levy Collection has sheet music from several different publishes, with different composers listed. The lyrics are not the same as those I find in searching the database. The lyrics below, from Jerry Silverman's "Play Oldtime Country Fiddle" are an only slightly sanitized version of the original.

Bully of the Town

By Charles E. Trevathan

Have you heard about the bully, that's just come to town
He's round among the poor folks,And a-layin' their bodies down,
I'm a lookin' for that bully and he must be found.
I'm a Tennessee rambler and I don't allow
No redeyed river rout'bout, With me to make a row
I'm a lookin' for that bully and I'll make him bow.

When I a-walk that levee round, round, round, round,
When I walk that levee round, round, round, round,
When I walk that levee round,
I'm a-lookin' for that bully and he must be found.

I'm going down the street with my ax in my hand,
I'm looking for that bully, and I'll sweep him of this land,
I'm a-lookin for that bully and he must be found.
I'll take along my razor, I'm going to carve him deep,
And when I see that bully, I'll lay him down to sleep,
I'm looking for that bully and he must be found.
I went to wa wingin' down at Parson Jones,
Took along my trusty blade to carve that fella's bones,
Just a-lookin' for that bully, hear his groans,
I walked in the front door, the men were prancin' high,
For that levee fella I skinned my foxy eye,
Just a lloking for that bully but he wasn't nigh.

I asked Miss Pansy Blossom if she would wing a reel,
She says, "Law, Mr. Johnsing, how high you make me feel."
Then you ought to se me shake my sugar heel.
I rose up like a black cloud and took a look around,
There was that new bully stnading on the ground.
I've been looking for you, fella, and I've got you found.

When I got through with bully, a doctor and a nurse
Weren't no good to that man, so they put him in a hearse,
A cyclone couldn't have tore him up much worse.
You don't hear 'bout that fella that treated folks so free,
Go down upon the levee and his face you'll never see.
There's only one boss bully and that one is me.

When you see me coming, hoist your windows high,
When you see me going, hang your heads and cry,
I'm a-lookin for that bully and he must die.
My madness is a-rising and I'm not going to get left
I'm getting so bad that I'm askeered of myself
I was looking for that bully, now he's on the shelf.

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: LR req Bully of the town
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 16 Feb 00 - 01:22 AM

Thanks for those lyrics!! I have been having the worst week in the world--(I went to the bank yesterday am to deposit a check and was nearly arrested for attempting to rob it--an things got worse after that) but having the chance to finally see the words to this song make it all worth while!!!
Messages below are from a new thread.

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: Lookin' for the bully of the town
From: GUEST, John C. Thoma
Date: 20 Nov 01 - 09:42 PM

I actually stumbled into this gold mine today. I have been searching for the words and music for "the bully" for over fifty years. I tried the search and "bingo", I got the "bully". Now all I need is the music. Can you help?

If you're unable to help with the music, do you know of any place I might find a recording??

Many Thanks, John C.

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Tune Req: Lookin' for the bully of the town
From: Stewie
Date: 20 Nov 01 - 10:11 PM

You'll find midi and chords here:



Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Tune Req: Lookin' for the bully of the town
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 Nov 01 - 10:14 PM

Hi, John - well, I'm wondering which song you're looking for. In your message above, I added links to the two songs of that name that we have. The sheet music to the Trevathan song is here (click) in The Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music (click).
I don't know about the tune for the version we have in the Digital Tradition - seems to me it might be related to On a Monday (click).
-Joe Offer - (e-mail sent)

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Tune Req: Lookin' for the bully of the town
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 Nov 01 - 10:19 PM

Hmmm. The page that Stewie links to has lyrics for BOTH versions combined. Are they really all part of the same song?
Jerry Silverman's Folk Song Encyclopedia has "the Bully of the Town" and "The New Bully Song," same lyrics as the version we have in the Forum ("Have you heard about the bully"), but two different tunes. The song is also in Best-Loved Songs of the American People, but I don't have that one.
Search for bully at the Library of Congress and you'll find at least a couple of recordings. Great stuff. I'm glad you called it to our attention.
-Joe Offer-

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Tune Req: Lookin' for the bully of the town
From: Lin in Kansas
Date: 20 Nov 01 - 11:37 PM

Joe, the version in Best Loved Songs is the Charles Trevathan one linked to the Forum, but only gives two verses and the "When I a-walk that levee 'round" refrain.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Tune Req: Lookin' for the bully of the town
From: Lin in Kansas
Date: 20 Nov 01 - 11:40 PM

And it appears to be the same tune (although in a different key) as the one you linked to in the Levy collection.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Tune Req: Lookin' for the bully of the town
From: masato sakurai
Date: 21 Nov 01 - 01:08 AM

The following info may be helpful.

Recordings of "Bully of the Town":

Bully of the Town [Laws I14]

Rt - Back to the Blue Ridge ; Bully Song ; New Bully
At - I'm Looking for that Bully of the Town
1. Native American Balladry, Amer. Folklore Society, Bk (1964), p253
2. Anderson, Bob; and the Country Ramblers. Indiana Hoedown, Puritan 5003, LP (1973), cut#A.04
3. Arita, Yoshihiro. 52nd Annual Old Fiddlers Convention Galax, Va 1987, Heritage (Galax) 704, LP (1988), cut# 15
4. Baker, Etta. Instrumental Music of the Southern Appalachians, Tradition TR 1007, LP (196?), cut# 19
5. Berst, Mike. Favorite American Melodies, Vol. 1, Berst TT 01, Cas (1988), cut# 8
6. Blake, Norman. Home in Sulphur Springs, Rounder 0012, LP (1972), cut# 1
7. Carter, Maybelle (Mother Maybelle). Mother Maybelle Carter, Hilltop JS-6172, LP (198?), cut#B.02
8. Clemens, Alice. Fiddlin' Fever, UCA, LP (197?), cut# 5
9. Cox, Gene (Eugene). American Hammer Dulcimer, Troubadour TR-6, LP (1978), cut# 18a
10. Dillard, Douglas. Banjo Album, Together STT 1003, LP (197?), cut#B.02
11. Harkreader, Sid; & Grady Moore. Paramount Old Time Tunes, JEMF JEMF 103, LP (197?), cut#A.02
12. Highwoods String Band. Fire on the Mountain, Rounder 0023, LP (1973), cut# 10
13. Holy Modal Rounders. Holy Modal Rounders, Fantasy 24711, LP (1972), cut#2.06
14. Hotmud Family. Stone Mountain Wobble, Vetco LP 503, LP (1974), cut#B.05
15. Hunter, Ernie. All About Fiddling, Stoneway STY-143, LP (197?), cut#B.04
16. Irwin, May. Minstrels and Tunesmiths, JEMF 109, LP (1981), cut#B.05 (Bully)
17. Johnson, Earl; and his Clodhoppers. Red Hot Breakdown, County 543, LP (1976), cut#B.05
18. Johnson, Vesta. Down Home Rag, Marimac 9017, Cas (1988), cut# 20
19. Leadbelly. Leadbelly's Last Sessions, Part 4, Folkways FA 2942, LP (196?), cut# 16
20. Macon, Uncle Dave. At Home, His Last Recordings, 1950., Bear Family LC 15214, LP (1987), cut# 3
21. Poston, Mutt; and the Farm Hands. Hoe Down! Vol. 7. Fiddlin' Mutt Poston and the Farm Hands, Rural Rhythm RRFT 157, LP (197?), cut#A.09
22. Ryan, Buck. Draggin' the Bow, Rebel SLP 1552, LP (1976), cut# 5
23. Skillet Lickers. Skillet Lickers, Vol. 2, County 526, LP (197?), cut# 9
24. Skillet Lickers. Day in the Mountains, County 512, LP (196?), cut# 3a (Fiddler's Convention in Georgia)
25. Smathers, Luke; String Band. In Full Swing, June Appal JA 0032, LP (1981), cut# 11
26. Stinnett, Cyril. Salty River Reel, MSOTFA 104, Cas (1992), cut# 5
27. Stringbean (David Ackerman). Stringbean and His Banjo. A Salute to Uncle Dave Macon, Starday SLP 215, LP (196?), cut# 9
28. Thomas, Henry (Ragtime Texas Henry). Texas Worried Blues, Yazoo 1080/1, LP (1989), 7c (Bob McKinney)

"Bully of the Town" as Tune (with ABC):

BULLY OF THE TOWN. Old-Time, Country Rag and Song Tune. USA; Georgia, North Carolina, West Virginia, Arkansas, Arizona, Missouri, northeast Tenn. G Major. Standard. AABB. The song "Bully of the Town" was originally written by Charles E. Trevathan (a southern sports writer, horse judge and amateur musician) in 1895 for the stage show "The Widow Jones" which opened at the Bijou Theater, New York City that September. It was sung in the production by Trevathan's girl-friend, May Irwin. "Bully of the Town" is mentioned as one of the frequently played tunes in a 1931 account of a LaFollette, northeast Tennessee fiddlers' contest. It was in the repertoire of Skillet Licker fiddler Clayton McMichen (Ga.) who recorded the tune with that group in a triple fiddle version at their first recording session in 1926. Musicologist/folklorist Vance Randolph recorded the tune from Ozark Mountain fiddlers for the Library of Congress in the early 1940's.
John Garst finds that the song "Bully of the Town" was developed from an earlier blues ballad called "Ella Speed," based on a real-life incident in New Orleans in the middle years of the "Gay 90's." Garst relates that in September, 1894, Ella was a twenty-eight year old black or mullato prostitute living in a "sporting house" on what is now Iberville Street in the French Quarter. She was the object of the obsessive attentions of Louis "Bull" Martin or Martini, a bartending white Italian-American whom she had met several months previously at another establishment, and who wanted to set her up in an apartment as his mistress, a not uncommon arrangement at the time. Ella, however was lukewarm to him-she liked his money, but didn't care much for the man-and at any rate, she already had a husband, one Willie Speed. Louis was a bully who had been arrested and tried on three separate occasions on assault and battery charges, and who at the time of the murder was wanted by the constable for yet another brutal beating, that of an elderly black man near his place of work. Louis reportedly became enraged at the thought that she might be fond of another man (whether Willie or not). One night, after a day spent recreating, dining and drinking, they returned late to the bordello in which she was staying and, feeling the effects of their partying, retired at around 2:00 AM. The next time Ella was seen was in the morning when she screamed and emerged from her second story room, saying "Help me, Miss Pauline!, Louis shot me!" She collapsed in the hallway, just as the onrushing Madame spied Louis in the doorway, holding a smoking pistol. Louis disappeared, and soon a deputy arrived followed by an ambulance; but too late, for Ella had been shot through the breast with the bullet piecing her heart, left lung and liver, from which wounds she soon bleed to death.
A manhunt was raised to find Louis, who after a day turned himself in at the residence of a police Captain. He was arrested, held and charged with murder. After a trial a jury found him guilty of manslaughter, despite Louis's claim the shooting was an accident, and if Louis had counted on getting off easy with the reduced finding he was mistaken, for Judge John H. Ferguson (originally from Massachusetts) sentenced him to twenty years in prison, which Garst says was a stiff sentence for the time.
Garst thinks that the song "Ella Speed" appeared soon after the initial shooting and was based on newspaper accounts. "Ella Speed" appears in the collected papers of John A. Lomax (in a Texas version from 1909) and Carl Sandburg included it in his volume American Songbag (1927). Under the title "Bill Martin and Ella Speed," it was recorded several times by Leadbelly between 1933 and 1950, and in fact was recorded by several blues performers, including Mance Lipscomb, Tom Shaw, Tricky Same, Finious Rockmore, Lightnin' Hopkins and Jewel Long (as researched by John Cowley). Garst bases his hypothesis that "Ella Speed" was the model for "Bully of the Town" on three points: 1) the fact that "Bully" appeared a year or two after the "Ella" song, 2) the fact that Louis was a bully and the subject of a massive police hunt, as intimated in both songs, and 3) the similarity between the melodies of "Ella" and "Bully." He believes Trevathan heard "Ella Speed" from a black musician friend named Cooley, and that Trevathan substantially rewrote it, ending up with "Bully of the Town" (Trevathan gave several accounts of how he came to write the song).
Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes), Vol. 2, 1995; pg. 26. Ruth (Pioneer Western Folk Tunes), 1948; No. 96, pg. 34. County 526, "The Skillet Lickers, Vol. 1" (1973. Orig. rec. 1926). Gennett 6447 (78 RPM), 1928, Tweedy Brothers (W.Va. brothers Harry, Charles, and George who played twin fiddles and piano). Marimac 9017, Vesta Johnson (Mo.) - "Down Home Rag." Rounder Records, Gid Tanner and His Skillet Lickers - "The Kickapoo Medicine Show" (appears as the 4th tune of the Kickapoo Medecine Show skit). Tradition TLP 1007, Etta Baker - "Instrumental Music of the Southern Appalachians" (1956).
T:Bully of the Town
S:Viola "Mom" Ruth - Pioneer Western Folk Tunes (1948)
D|D[GB][G>B>][GB]|[GB] [G2B2] [GB]|[GB][GB][G_B][G=B]|
G3F|[CE][C2E2][CE]|[Ge][G2e2][Ge]|cc c/B/A|(F2 F)(F/E/)|
D d3 ^c/=c/|ccBA|(G4|G3)||
|:(B/c/)|(d2 d)(3c/d/^d/|ed AB|c2 cA|F3 (A/B/)|(c2 c)(3B/c/^c/|
dc A_B|=B2 BG|D3G|(B2 B)(3A/B/c/|(d2 d)(3c/d/^d/|eecA|
E3_E|D d3 ^c/=c/|ccBA|(G4|G3:|
(From The Fiddler's Companion)

"Bully of the Town" as Ballad:

Bully of the Town, The [Laws I14]
DESCRIPTION: The bully has terrorized the entire town, including even the police. At last a hunter catches up with him and kills him. The people rejoice; all the women "come to town all dressed in red."
AUTHOR: unknown
KEYWORDS: murder punishment
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Laws I14, "The Bully of the Town"
Leach, p. 767, "Lookin' for the Bully of the Town" (1 text)
Notes: Laws describes "The (New) Bully" (for which cf. Spaeth, Read 'Em and Weep, pp. 193-195, or Gilbert, pp. 209-210) as an offshoot of this traditional piece. Personally, I'd call "The New Bully" an arrangement, but I follow Laws.
Norm Cohen writes of this piece,
I discussed the history of The Bully in the brochure notes to JEMF LP 103:
Paramount Old Time Tunes.... "Basically, there are two received accounts of the genesis of this song. One was first published by James J. Geller in his "Famous Songs and their Stories (1931). This is the anecdote about sports writer and horse racing judge, Charles E. Trevathan, on the train back to Chicago from San Francisco in 1894, playing his guitar and humming popular airs to amuse the passengers around him among whom was May Irwin. He said he had learned the tune of "The Bully" from Tennessee blacks. Irwin suggested that he put [clean] words to the tune, which he did, and published it in 1896. She incorporated the song in her stage play, "The Widow Jones."
The other account, first published, as far as I know, by E. B. Marks in 'They All Sang' (1934) is that the song was popularized before he got his hands on it by 'Mama Lou,' a short, fat, homely, belligerent powerhouse of a singer in Babe Connor's classy St. Louis brothel, a popular establishment in the 1890s that drew from all social classes for its clientele.
Either Trevathan picked up the song from Mama Lou, or, equally likely, both learned it from black oral tradition in the South of the early 1890s. In support of this position is the fact that there were several sheet music versions of 'The Bully' published, some preceding Trevathan's 1896 version." - RBW
File: LI14
The Ballad Index Copyright 2000 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.
(From The Traditional Ballad Index)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Tune Req: Lookin' for the bully of the town
From: Joe Offer
Date: 21 Nov 01 - 03:03 AM

Masato, that was extraordinary. I may have to award you the Malcolm Douglas Medal for Diligence in Research for that fine work. I guess that Bill Martin and Ella Speed is the "Ella Speed" song your notes refer to.
Thanks a lot.

Now, have we decided whether the song in the Digital Tradition and the Forum are one and the same, or are they two different songs?
-Joe Offer-

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Tune Req: Lookin' for the bully of the town
From: Louie Roy
Date: 28 May 02 - 01:45 PM

I like the version of The Bully Of The Town that I learned in the 1930s and it was very popular dance tune and was nearly always played every Saturday night at all the barn dances.This version was written and recorded by Kenny Roberts and is very easily sang.It doesn't even resemble the earlier tune by other artists.Can post the lyrics if anyone is interested Louie Roy

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Tune Req: Lookin' for the bully of the town
Date: 22 Nov 07 - 10:16 PM

Bully of the Town

Bully of the Town

Luther Quinton - fiddle
Floyd Jones - guitar

Recorded at Arvin FSA camp in California, 7-28-40

Voices From the Dust Bowl

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Tune Req: Lookin' for the bully of the town
From: Goose Gander
Date: 22 Nov 07 - 10:20 PM

That was me, found my cookie.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")

Mudcat time: 16 May 5:58 PM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 2022 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.