Thursday, February 16, 2012

Classic music: Mr. Bojangles

From Wikipedia:

Mr. Bojangles was a song written in 1971 by Jerry Jeff Walker. Despite popular belief, the song was not written about tap dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. It was written after Walker himself went to jail on a drunk and disorderly charge in New Orleans in 1965. Behind bars, he met a homeless white street performer who called himself "Mr. Bojangles" to conceal his true identity from the police. Several skid row members had been rounded up after a high profile murder had been committed on the streets of New Orleans.

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.

A chance encounter in a New Orleans jail cell leads to a masterpiece...

I met him in a cell in New Orleans,
I was down and out
He looked to be the eyes of age as spoke right out
He talked of life,
He talked of life,
He laughed, slapped his leg a step

He said his name, Bojangles,
Then he danced a lick across the cell
He grabbed pants of better stants,
Then he jumped up high, he clicked his heels
He let go a laugh,
He let go a laugh, shook back his clothes all around

He danced for those at minstrel shows
And county fairs throughout the south
He spoke with tears of 15 years
How his dog and he traveled about
His dog up and died, up and died,
After 20 years he still grieved

He said I dance now at ev'ry chance

In honky tonks for drinks and tips
But most of the time
I spend behind these county bars
He said 'I drinks a bit'
He shook his head


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