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Jerry Jeff Walker’s ‘Mr. Bojangles’

Jerry Jeff Walker

From Bob Dylan or Sammy Davis Jr. to European Pop Star Robbie Williams, or country music’s The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and of course Frank Sinatra (you can click on the names to hear their versions) Jerry Jeff Walker’s Mr. Bojangles has been covered by some of the best in music history.

I don’t even know the first time I heard the story of Mr. Bojangles.   It’s just a song that I’ve always known.  Whether I heard it on the radio with my old man driving down the road as a kid or on some television show, Mr. Bojangles has just always been there.  So for all of us whom Mr. Bojangles has always been a part of our life, here’s the story behind the song.

Walker has said he was inspired to write the song after an encounter with a street performer in a New Orleans jail and does not refer to the famous stage and movie personality Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. Walker said while in jail for public intoxication in 1965, he met a homeless white man who called himself “Mr. 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.

What a cool story –read more about it from Wikipedia just click here. It always amazes me how great song writers can pull from life everyday experiences and write magic.  Well let’s get to it, here it is Jerry Jeff’s version of ‘Mr. Bojangles’ and although it was covered and popularized by so many and by so many so well, you’ve gotta love it when it’s done by the man who wrote it.

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