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Big Bad Bill Is Sweet William Now

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Bill Roggensack:

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.

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.

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

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

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

Is it any help ???

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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