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Origin: Mister Bojangles

28 Dec 00 - 08:53 PM (#364918)
Subject: RE: Mr Bojangles
From: lesblank

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band recorded the song after another great Texas musician by the name of Allan Wayne Damron, who was the first. Check Allan's website for more information. BTW, great to be back on the Mudcat again. It's been a long hard year, but I can finally pluck a few chords or two - perhaps by June I can work in a melody note or two !! I can sure see that Joe Offer is alive and kicking.


28 Dec 00 - 09:47 PM (#364940)
Subject: RE: Mr Bojangles
From: GUEST,Sarah

To note: JJW released his own 45 the same year Allen did, but his recording was done in NYC, and it took longer for him to get it out of the studio, so Allen's WAS first.

I remember, 'cause Jerry Jeff was performing at Sand Mountain Coffee House in Houston, where I worked on weekends. The owner ("Mama C") and I had just arrived to open when Jerry Jeff came in with the first box of them he'd received. She snagged the first one, and I snagged the second.

I still have it here somewhere -- but I'm sure that was the year, as I was still in high school...

Sarah


29 Dec 00 - 12:20 PM (#365118)
Subject: RE: Mr Bojangles
From: Midchuck

Bromberg's recording is the one to have, though. The guitar break...You have Doc's original "Black Mountain Rag" on his first Vanguard album; you have John Herald's intro to Ian and Sylvia's "Four Rode By," on the "Northern Journey" album; you have Clarence's "Sheik of Araby;" you have Norman's break on Steve Earle's "Tom Ames' Prayer" on the "Train A'Comin" album...and Bromberg's break on his own "Bojangles." Then you've heard everything really important.

Peter.


03 Feb 02 - 12:49 AM (#641125)
Subject: RE: Mr Bojangles
From: Genie

Does anyone know if this song was written about Bill "Bojangles" Robinson or about some other guy who was sort of nicknamed for him because he danced?

I had always assumed it was the latter-- a down and out guy who tap danced and, so, folks called him "Bojangles." But someone told me that Jerry Jeff met Bill Robinson in jail and wrote the song about him.

Anyone have the real story?

Genie


03 Feb 02 - 02:03 AM (#641144)
Subject: RE: Mr Bojangles
From: DonMeixner

My understanding is its about an old black man he met who was a dancer. Every Black man in the south who could dance was called Bojangles after Bill Robinson. I believe he told me that it was not Bill Robinson but someone else.


03 Feb 02 - 08:20 AM (#641221)
Subject: RE: Mr Bojangles
From: Suffet

I heard Jerry Jeff Walker himself say the song is not about Bill Robinson. Walker spent a night in the New Orleans city jail on a charge of being drunk and disorderly. According to David Bromberg, who later toured with Walker, "Jerry Jeff propositioned the right woman, at the right time, in the wrong place. And her husband, the bar tender, called the cops." It was in jail that Walker met the character about whom he would later write Mr. Bojangles, an old dancer who was sharing the same abode for the evening "because I drinks a bits."

--- Steve


03 Feb 02 - 09:52 PM (#641670)
Subject: RE: Mr Bojangles
From: Genie

Don and Suffet, that's what I thought, too. I was not under the impression that Bill Robinson was ever on the streets and in jail.
Thanks for clearing this up.
BTW, does anyone know when Bill Robinson was born (how old he would have been in the mid 1960's)?
Genie


17 Feb 02 - 04:41 AM (#651972)
Subject: Mister Bojangles
From: C-flat

Does anyone know the origins of this song.I'm given to believe there was such a person.You could help me settle an argument and look like a smartass!


17 Feb 02 - 05:44 AM (#651991)
Subject: RE: Mister Bojangles
From: GUEST,MCP

This was discussed very recently in the thread Mister Bojangles. (Briefly, I think it was based on a real person, but the person was not the famous Bojangles Robinson, but see that thread).

If you type "Bojangles" into the nice Digitrad and Forum Search box on the threads page you'll find a lot of threads referencing the song.

Mick


17 Feb 02 - 05:48 AM (#651992)
Subject: RE: Mister Bojangles
From: C-flat

Thanks Mick.Missed that thread!


17 Feb 02 - 06:22 AM (#651996)
Subject: RE: Mister Bojangles
From: Mr Red

Presumeably Shirley Temple's dancing partner took his appllation from the song/legend.
BTW FWIW there is an Indian Restaurant in the Town of Shirley (nr B'ham) called (you guessed it) Shirley Temple! Honest! It was a Chinese restuarant 30 years ago.


17 Feb 02 - 06:46 AM (#652011)
Subject: RE: Mister Bojangles
From: GUEST,Lionel

Mr Red - I'am pretty certain that the restaurant is still open for business.


17 Feb 02 - 01:35 PM (#652189)
Subject: RE: Mister Bojangles
From: GUEST,MCP

Mr. Red - I think it was the other way around - Bill Robinson long predated the song, which is fairly recent. I believe he lent his name to other black dancers (also Fred Astaire's only blackface routine was "Bojangles of Harlem" in Swing Time

Mick


17 Feb 02 - 02:41 PM (#652228)
Subject: RE: Mister Bojangles
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)

A biography of Bill (Bojangles) Robinson has been published by Jim Haskins and N. R. Mitgang, "Mr Bojangles." Pictures and an audio biography are available Here and then click on main menu.


17 Feb 02 - 03:22 PM (#652254)
Subject: RE: Mister Bojangles
From: Gary T

From the thread linked by MCP. This is what I'd always heard:

Does anyone know if this song was written about Bill "Bojangles" Robinson or about some other guy who was sort of nicknamed for him because he danced? I had always assumed it was the latter--a down and out guy who tap danced and, so, folks called him "Bojangles." But someone told me that Jerry Jeff met Bill Robinson in jail and wrote the song about him. (Posted by Genie.)

I heard Jerry Jeff Walker himself say the song is not about Bill Robinson. Walker spent a night in the New Orleans city jail on a charge of being drunk and disorderly....It was in jail that Walker met the character about whom he would later write Mr. Bojangles, an old dancer who was sharing the same abode for the evening "because I drinks a bits." (Posted by Suffet.) __________

To sum up and clarify: There was indeed a "Mr. Bojangles"--dancer Bill Robinson, who among other things appeared in four films with Shirley Temple. The song, however, was not about him but about another dancer whom some called Bojangles, presumably because he too was a black man who danced. It looks to me, C-flat, like you win and get to be an offical smartass.


17 Feb 02 - 05:09 PM (#652291)
Subject: RE: Mister Bojangles
From: C-flat

Thanks Gary-T,that gives me a warm glow all over.Or is it my incontinence pants need changing?


17 Feb 02 - 06:29 PM (#652329)
Subject: RE: Mister Bojangles
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)

Bill Robinson, born Luther Robinson in 1879, got the nickname "Bojangles" in childhood according to himself (article in Richmond, VA, Times-Dispatch). He began dancing age 7 and ran away to Washington age nine with a black actor, to act as a piccaninny in a stage show.
There is disagreement over what the nickname meant ("happy-go-lucky" or "squabler")- Theater Arts. The name could come from a Mr Boujasson, who sold hats. Robinson stole a hat from him. The nickname was in use when he starred in "Blackbirds of 1928.
Jerry Jeff Walker- who he?


17 Feb 02 - 06:45 PM (#652338)
Subject: RE: Mister Bojangles
From: Justa Picker

Jerry Jeff Walker bio.


17 Feb 02 - 11:29 PM (#652466)
Subject: RE: Mister Bojangles
From: Gary T

I'm sure it's in the bio linked by Justa Picker, but Jerry Jeff Walker wrote the song "Mr. Bojangles."


03 Jul 07 - 02:41 PM (#2093275)
Subject: RE: Mr Bojangles
From: pdq

...in answer to a question above...

Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, dancer and movie star ~

Born: May 25, 1878 in Richmond, VA
Died: Nov 25, 1949 in New York, NY


03 Jul 07 - 03:04 PM (#2093287)
Subject: RE: Mr Bojangles
From: PoppaGator

I haven't played this in years, but it was one of my "greatest hits" as a street performer in the late 60s/early 70s. Thanks for the reminder; I just might work it up again. (I played it in C, just like Jed-at-work, with the same descending bass line, etc.)

It may not be correct to assume that the nickname "Bojangles" originated with the famous Bill Robinson. I think it's just as likely that he adopted an already-well-established "folk" nickname for any skilled tapdancer ~ not that all street dancers to appear after Mr. Robinson had established himself in Hollywood were necessarily named after him.

Any of you scholars out there have a pre-1930s citation of the nickname "Bojangles" or "Mr. Bojangles"? I have a hunch there might be some, indicating that Bill Robinson (or his agant) did not make up the name, that he simply popularized a pre-existing sobriquet.


23 Aug 08 - 01:12 PM (#2420746)
Subject: Origins: Bojangles
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)

I caught the end of this program on BBC Radio 4 today about Bojangles Robinson and his relation/non-relation to the song. Some interesting interviews. The programme (1/2 hr) is available on the BBC iPlayer until next Saturday morning: The Man Who Was Bojangles.

Mick


23 Aug 08 - 01:57 PM (#2420774)
Subject: RE: Origins: Bojangles
From: pdq

The man that Jerry Jeff Walker met in a cell in New Orleans was a street enterainer who drank as much as he could afford. He was not the real "Bojangles" Robinson, who was reasonably conservative and a family man, as I understand. Shirley Temple worked with the real Bojangles in a movie or two in the 1930s.


23 Aug 08 - 02:05 PM (#2420777)
Subject: RE: Origins: Bojangles
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)

The programme and JJW himself in interviews make that clear (and I think it's been discussed here previously too; JJW makes the point that when he was in the gaol it was segregated, so the man he was with was obviously white). Others interviewed in the programme were no so happy about the association people make from the song to the more famous, and as you say rather more salubrious, Bojangles Robinson.

Mick


24 Aug 08 - 01:52 PM (#2421285)
Subject: RE: Origins: Bojangles
From: open mike

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_%22Bojangles%22_Robinson
http://www.jerryjeff.com/


24 Aug 08 - 08:44 PM (#2421499)
Subject: RE: Origins: Bojangles
From: Nigel Parsons

Those links:
Bill Robinson
Jerry Jeff Walker

Nigel
(link maker to the masses!)


24 Aug 08 - 09:02 PM (#2421511)
Subject: RE: Origins: Bojangles
From: Peace

Catholic or Protestant?


24 Aug 08 - 09:05 PM (#2421513)
Subject: RE: Origins: Bojangles
From: Nigel Parsons

Both! I'm an Anglican Catholic.

pax vobiscum, Pax


25 Aug 08 - 03:04 PM (#2421919)
Subject: RE: Origins: Bojangles
From: Leadfingers

I've only been singing Mister Bojangles since 1973 , and never thought it had much to do with the guy who taught Shirley Temple to Tap ! Its still a bloody good song though .


23 Oct 08 - 05:22 PM (#2474126)
Subject: RE: Mister Bojangles
From: GUEST,Someone

Does anyone know where the 1 1/2 minute audio intro to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band come from? If the song isn't about a more-or-less famous person, how or more appropriately, why, would anyone record that.
Not that I'm any sort of expert but it doesn't sound to me like it's an actor. And it also sounds like there's definately someone else in the room who is being addressed by the possible "Bojangles". It also sounds like there might be a cut, or and edit, in the recording.
He talks about his dog and the dog is also part of the audio. Of course I don't need to point out the lyrics about the guys dog.
I think that's all.


23 Oct 08 - 07:19 PM (#2474243)
Subject: RE: Mister Bojangles
From: GUEST,Jim

The character on the Dirt Band record is a guy who goes by Uncle Charlie, who did record some songs on 78. The original record by the NGDB was called UNCLE CHARLIE AND HIS DOG TEDDY. Probably they went to visit him, made the recording and thought it was a good intro to Jerry Jeff's song Mr. Bojangles. I agree with them.

By the way, has anyone noticed that the Dirt Band's version of Mr. Bojangles changed,"...and he spoke right out" to "...and the smoke ran out"? I saw them play the song a couple of years ago and they now use Jerry Jeff's original lyrics.


23 Oct 08 - 07:41 PM (#2474275)
Subject: RE: Mister Bojangles
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)

There was a programme on the BBC radio not that long ago about the song and the NGDB explained that smoke ran out.. that they sang was caused by them misunderstanding the recording when they first heard it, and in those times...


Mick


24 Oct 08 - 01:16 PM (#2475021)
Subject: RE: Mister Bojangles
From: GUEST,Jim

Is that called a mondegreen?(sp?)


30 Oct 08 - 04:30 AM (#2479667)
Subject: RE: Mister Bojangles
From: GUEST,someone

Thank you guest Jim. Does anyone know if the person that Jerry Jeff Walker actually wrote the song about, had a dog?
Everytime I really think about this tune it gives me the shivers. It's like you're there. Don't short-change me, I listen to Jim Croce, Harry Chapin, Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Neil Diamond, Gordon Lightfoot, Johnny Cash, Tom Petty, to name a few. So I know all about great song writing:

"I woke up Sunday morning
With no way to hold my head that didn't hurt"

"One time I saw my daddy dance
Watched him movin' like a man in a trance
He brought it back from the war in France"

"You were tryin' to make me a martyr
And that's the one thing I just couldn't do"

But the deeply personal motivating feeling of this song is that it makes me feel like at that very moment in time, in that jail cell, one of the most important events of that day in history was taking place. I know that sounds a bit dramatic and in truth it's not entirely accurate, but when I really start feeling the feeling, the words quickly stop coming.
To me the most emotional part of the song is the line "I met him in a cell in New Orleans (Or "Nawlens", to the people of that fine state" I was down and out. Can't really explain that one either. But I do feel as though my absence from that jail cell that night, unjustly took away an opportunity for me to have one of the most......

The best way that I can put it is by saying that if I was ever granted three wishes, one of them would be to be in that jail cell that night.................DAMN RIGHT

"Honesty is my only exscuse"

"I just don't seem to can't lose"