Country Blues > Country Blues Licks and Lessons

Big Bad Bill Is Sweet William Now

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Jazz/Ragtime dabblers, this is a bit uptown OT but does anyone have either a homegrown version of BBBISWN, or a jazz fake book with an arrangement? I'm stuck and really want to play it.

I aim to cook it with a swing chord melody, A6, D6, D#dim7 kind of thing. I have versions by Cooder and Redbone (key of B flat) but I'm still stuck. I have parts of it but I'm missing a solid understanding of where it goes so it's basically in pieces on the garage floor. Any help much appreciated.

Here are the lyrics as a starter for 10 for anyone who might want to pitch in with ideas:

Big Bad Bill
Jack Yellen, Milt Ager, 1924

In the town of Louisville, lived a man named Big Bad Bill
Let me tell you, he sure was tough, and he certainly did strut his stuff
He had folks all scared to death, when he walked by they held their breath
He was a fightin' man sure enough
Bill took himself a wife, now he leads a different life

Big bad Bill is Sweet William now
Married life has changed him somehow;
He's the man they all used to fear, now the people call him sweet papa Willie dear
Stronger than Samson I declare,
'Til a brown skinned mama bobbed his hair

Big bad Bill don't fight any more
Now he does the dishes and he mops up the floor
Well he used to go out, jus' lookin' for a fight,
Now he's got to see his mama every night
Big Bad Bill is Sweet William now.


Big Bad Bill is Sweet William now
Big Bad Billy's Sweet William now.

I can't help you musically, but for what it's worth this was originally recorded by Glady Murrry aka Clementine Smith with the Kansas City Five around Dec '24.The KC5 comprised some very well respected jazzers so I'll see if I can locate a copy for the fun(?) of it ::)

Richard, I'd love to hear that. Great to have a jazz trainspotter on the list at times like this!  :P

This is so quick it's almost like a chat room :o

I'll put out a jazz distress call to this old friend of mine who has at least 5-7,000 jazz 78s... and has had to have the floor reinforced to take the weight! True  ::)

Be great to get the real deal, I wonder what key it was in. I'm thinking B flat would be a good wheeze.


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