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I'm a greedy glutton, eat fifty times a day. When I'm around a pigpen, they hide the slop away - Me And My Tapeworm, Sylvester Weaver 1927

Author Topic: Big Bad Bill Is Sweet William Now  (Read 7779 times)

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Offline Rivers

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Big Bad Bill Is Sweet William Now
« on: April 15, 2004, 11:52:59 AM »
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.

(break)

Big Bad Bill is Sweet William now
Big Bad Billy's Sweet William now.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2005, 12:57:21 PM by Johnm »

Offline Richard

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Re: Big Bad Bill Is Sweet William Now
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2004, 12:05:27 PM »
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 ::)
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline Rivers

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Re: Big Bad Bill Is Sweet William Now
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2004, 12:21:47 PM »
Richard, I'd love to hear that. Great to have a jazz trainspotter on the list at times like this!  :P

Offline Richard

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Re: Big Bad Bill Is Sweet William Now
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2004, 12:34:04 PM »
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  ::)
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline Rivers

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Re: Big Bad Bill Is Sweet William Now
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2004, 12:37:36 PM »
Be great to get the real deal, I wonder what key it was in. I'm thinking B flat would be a good wheeze.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2004, 12:49:44 PM by Rivers »

Offline Johnm

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Re: Big Bad Bill Is Sweet William Now
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2004, 05:42:57 PM »
Hi Mark,
Could you post an mp3 of your recorded version?  We use them to figure out lyrics, why not chord changes?
All best,
Johnm

Offline Rivers

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Re: Big Bad Bill Is Sweet William Now
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2004, 08:55:09 PM »
Will do Mr M, when I get home tonight. I'll post Leon Redbone's B flat version.
Cooder's version on 'Jazz' is in open tuning  :o , no mean feat and a brlliant rendition but I want to play it in standard tuning.

Offline Richard

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Re: Big Bad Bill Is Sweet William Now
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2004, 01:30:45 AM »
Intrigued, I found a version by Van H on the web and it sounds to me very much like the  old jazz standard Dr Jazz as the breaks and everything fit and feel it.

I can always post a Dr J mp3 or ask someone for the chords if you want, over to you..
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline Rivers

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Re: Big Bad Bill Is Sweet William Now
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2004, 01:06:57 PM »
The MP3 came out too big to upload, will have to get another MP3 maker. In the meantime I figured out this arrangement with some clues from elsewhere on the web as to structure. It's really cool to combine fingerpicking and swing chord vamping, and it moves around a lot with some satisfying changes.

Please feel free to pitch in with suggestions, it's a work in progress.

Chords in brackets are optional, for variation.
Passing chords indicated with a dash, E9?- C#o - D6
Some chords:

A6? :?5x?4?6?5?x

A7? :?5?x?5?6?5x

A/C#:?9?x?7?9?x?x (A with C# in the bass)

A#o :?6?x?5?6?x?x

Bm7 :?7?x?7?7?7?x

B7? :?x2?1?2?0?2
? 7?x?7?8?7?x

B9? :?x?2?1?2?2?2
? 7?6?7?6?x?x

Bo? :?8?x?7?8?x?x

C#7 :?x?4?3?42?x

D6? :?x?5?4?4?3?x

D#o :?x?6?7?5?7?x

E6? :?x?7?6?6?x?x

E7? :?x?7?675?x

E+#5:?0?3?2?11?0?(not sure what this chord is, E with a 5th sharped?)
? 0?7?6?55?0

E9? :?x?7?67?7x

F#7 :?x?9?8?97?x
 2?x?2?32?x

F#m7:?2x?2?2?2x

intro vamp: A6? A#o? Bm7? E9? /? A6? A#o? Bm7? E+
?
A?                   C#7?          F#7        ?
In the town of Louisville, lived a man named Big Bad Bill

B9?      B7?             B9          B7?     B9 ?     E?                 E+
Let me tell you, he sure was tough, and he certainly did strut his stuff

A6                    ?C#7                 ? F#7
He had folks all scared to death, when he walked by they held their breath

B9? B7? B9? B7? B9 E?E+
He was a fightin' man sure e-nough

Bm7?- A/C#?Bo? A#o -? B7? B9?B7  E? ? (E+)
Bill took himself a wife,? now he leads a different life


A6? A#o ? E9 - D#6 - E6 - A6 - A#o - Bm7 (A/C#)
Big bad Bill is Sweet William?now

D6?D#o?C#7
Married life has changed him somehow;

D6? D#o
He's the man they all used to fear,

?A6?- F#9 - F#7 - A#o -
Now the people call him sweet papa Willie dear

B9? B7?B9? B7
Stronger than Samson I declare,

?E7?E+#5
'Til a brown skinned mama bobbed his hair

A6? A#o ?E9 - D#6 - E6 - A6? A7
Big bad Bill don't?fight?any? more

D6?(D#o)?C#7? (F#m7) 
Now he does the dishes and he mops up the floor

D6? D#o
Well he used to go out, jus' lookin' for a fight,

A6?- F#9 - ?F#7 - A/C# -
Now he's got to see his mama every night

Bm7?E7 - D#6 - E6 - A6? (- A#o?- Bm7?- E9....)
Big Bad Bill is Sweet William?now.

« Last Edit: April 19, 2005, 01:15:49 PM by Johnm »

Offline Richard

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Re: Big Bad Bill Is Sweet William Now
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2004, 03:06:05 PM »
Might be a touch late but I have the chords to thisl tune winging themselves to me from Germany of all places ::) and I'll post 'em when they arrive.
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline Bill Roggensack

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Re: Big Bad Bill Is Sweet William Now
« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2004, 10:20:34 PM »
Rivers:

Here's what I have been playing. I'll be interested to see how your "jazzier" version sounds. This version comes (with a some simplifying approximations) from Leon Redbone's version. Ry's is definitelty tastier, but I was being realistic about my 'abilities' when I decided to learn this one.

Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now)
by Milton Ager (1893-1979) and Jack Yellen (1892-1991), written in 1924

In the [C] town of [A7] Louisville,
They [D] got a man they call Big Bad Bill.
I [G] wants to tell you, he sure was [C] tough,
And he sure did [G7]strut his stuff.
He had [C] whole town scared to [A7] death,
When [D] they walked by, they all held their breath.
He was a [D7] fighting man, sure e-[G7] nough.

Now [G7] Bill took himself a wife
Now [D] he leads a different [G7] life

Big Bad [C] Bill is [G7] Sweet William, [C] now.
Married life done changed him, some-[C7] how.
Well, [F] he's the man they all [F7] used to fear,
Now they [C] all call him "Sweet Poppa, [A7] Willie Dear"
[D] Stronger than Samson, I declare,
'Til a [G] brown-skinned mama [G7] bobbed his hair.

Big Bad [C] Bill don't [G7] fight any-[C] more, [C7] (No he don't)
[F] Doing the dishes, mopping up the [E7] floor, (Yes he is)
Well, he [F] used to spend his evenings, [F7] looking for a fight,
But [C] now he's got to see his mama [A7] every night.
[D] Big Bad Bill is Sweet [G7] William [C] now.

Aside: Ah.. play it boys, I likes that jazz.

Now he used to [F] spend his evenings, [F7] looking for a fight,
Now he [C] gots to see his mama [A7] every night.
[D] Big Bad Bill is Sweet [G7] William [C] now. [A7] (Doin' them dishes)
[D] Big Bad Bill is Sweet [G7] William [C] now. [A7] (Moppin' them floors)
[D] Big Bad Bill is Sweet [G7] William [C] now. [C7]

Note: Yellen and Ager also wrote such popular songs as "Ain't She Sweet" (1927), "Happy Days Are Here Again" (1929), and "Happy Feet".

I'm going to give your version a try - it will surely sound quite different.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2005, 01:17:56 PM by Johnm »
Cheers,
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Offline Rivers

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Re: Big Bad Bill Is Sweet William Now
« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2004, 12:02:13 AM »
Hi Richard, I look forward to seeing the German take on it.

Hi Bill, not sure about the interval on the first two changes in your intro, from C I would go to an E then A...

I was inspired to jazz it up for a couple of reasons. I find it much easier to sing with a chordal melody, helps me to carry the tune. Mainly though I've been working hard on swing chord progressions, having had a musical breakthrough in that area.

Using closed partial shapes starting from a I chord 6th, with the bass on either the sixth or fifth string, you can play in any key, no sweat. Once you've nailed the cute I6 - I#o - 2m7 - V9th progression (see the intro vamp) it's starting to sound vaguely Django-ish and you get inspired to join up the other dots.

Funny you should mention Ain't She sweet, I've been playing this using these ideas. Also into some old country / western swing tunes, Bob Wills and Hank Williams, Stay All Night, Deep Water, Roly Poly, Hey Good Lookin'.

It ain't country blues but it's a style I think is directly related, complementary and very accessible for an audience. Most of all it's a whole lot of fun and lets me play in keys that suit my voice. There's only one of those for any given tune in my case.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2004, 12:11:16 AM by Rivers »

Offline Richard

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Re: Big Bad Bill Is Sweet William Now
« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2004, 02:32:38 AM »
Right, sitting comfortably as this has come from all the way Australia to Germany to Uk to you lucky people...

Each chord symbol is obviously a bar and it's in F just for fun

Big Bad Bill is Sweet William now

Chorus
F   C7    F   Dm
F      F   A7   A7
Bb   Bbm   F   D7
G7   G7   C7   C7
F   C7   F  Dm   G7  C7
F   F   A7   A7
Bb   Bbm   F   D7
G7   C7   F   F

Verse
F   A7   D   D7
G7   C7   F  Dm   G7  C7
F   F#o   C   A7
C   G7   C   C7

Is it any help ???
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline Rivers

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Re: Big Bad Bill Is Sweet William Now
« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2004, 11:27:09 AM »
Hmmm.... that Dm seems a bit odd, like a different tune. I must search out the original recording, must be a comp CD of early jazz with it on. I'm stuck with my version now, seems like a lot of chords but they're pretty easy changes once you've played it a thousand times, poor Cheryl...

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