SOTD: Sammy Davis Jr. – Mr. Bojangles

41Sm0z4pagL._SL500_AA280_There are some songs so associated with an artist, so perfected by that artist, that no one else should sing them. I understand the ramifications of that, but you know what I mean. The Sammy Davis Jr. version of Mr. Bojangles is one of those songs for me. No one ever has or ever could better Sammy Davis Jr performing Mr. Bojangles. The list of artists covering this 1968 song written by Jerry Jeff Walker is endless and notable. Still, at the end of the day, hearing Sammy Davis Jr. sing Mr Bojangles still brings tears to my eyes ; every time **thumps chest**. This song is easily.. easily…easily, in my top 5 favorite songs of all time. My other two favorite Sammy songs are ‘I’ve Gotta Be Me’, and ‘What Kind of Fool’. This 1985 performance from Germany video is six minutes long, but you won’t want those minutes back. I’ve watched it three times this morning.

Lyric
I knew a man,
Bojangles,
and he’d dance for you
in worn out shoes,
with silver hair,
a ragged shirt,
and baggy pants.
He would do the old soft shoe.
He could jump so high,
jump so high,
and then he’d lightly touch down.

I met him in a cell
in New Orleans, I was,
down and out.
He looked to me to be the very eyes of age
as the smoke ran out,
talked of life, lord that man talked of life,
laughed, clicked his heels and stepped.

He said his name was “Bojangles”
and he danced a lick
right across the cell.
He grabbed his pants,
took a bitter stance,
jumped up high.
That’s when he
clicked his heels.
Then he let go a laugh,
lord, he’d let go a laugh,
shook back his clothes all around.

Mr. Bojangles.
Mr. Bojangles.
Mr. Bojangles
dance.

He told me of the times
he worked with minstrel shows,
through out the South.
He spoke with tears
of fifteen years
how his dog and he,
they travel all about.
the dog up and died,
dog up and died,
and after twenty years he still grieved.

He said “I dance
now and every chance a
honkey-tonk,
for drinks and tips.
But most of the time
I spend behind these country bars,
you see son, I drinks a bit.”
he shook his head.
as he shook his head,
I heard someone
say please, please, please.

A-Mr. Bojangles,
Mr. Bojangles,
Mr. Bojangles,
dance.

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10 thoughts on “SOTD: Sammy Davis Jr. – Mr. Bojangles

  1. It is his true and raw emotions in telling of story in song that stands to this day above most others. The ones who indeed feel each and every word..and in doing so, brings it forth so powerfully,how can one not but move or be moved from a wondrous dance..or to tears..?
    Yes,beautiful indeed. Thank you,for sharing.

    • That’s exactly it. Sammy is, at least during the performance, Mr Bojangles. Though, I suspect, that the true and raw emotions he projects are also a glimpse into him. Like I mentioned, this song effects me every single time I hear it.

  2. I feel the exact same way about the song I Thank You by Sam and Dave. It has been covered by everyone from ZZ Top to Bon Jovi *shiver*… just disgraceful if you ask me.

    Sammy sure does a hell of a job and you’d think any artist would recognize that there are some songs you just don’t touch. This being one of them.

    • Blissfully missed the Bon Jovi cover of that classic song! Can’t see a ZZ Top cover either. I guess I can appreciate their interest, but sometimes NO is the answer these bands should say to themselves. 🙂

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