Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Jerry Jeff Walker

Mr. Bojangles

Written and first released by Jerry Jeff Walker (US #77 1968).
Other hit version by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (US #9/MOR #10/CAN #9/NZ #2 1970), Nina Simone (UK #96 1988).
Also recorded by David Bromberg (1973), Sammy Davis Jr. (1972).

From the wiki: “Jerry Jeff Walker has said he was inspired to write the song after an encounter with a street performer in a New Orleans jail and that the song does not refer to the famous stage and movie personality Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson. Rather, 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.

“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.