Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home?

Album: Special Delivery (1902)

Songfacts®:

  • According to The Story Behind the Song: 150 Songs that Chronicle the 20th Century, the Hughie Cannon composition "Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home?" signaled the demise of the "coon song." Although it was similar to other songs of the genre using stylized dialect, it deviated from the strongly polar issues of "us versus them," i.e. black against white. The song "could easily have been about a rift between a white man and his wife."

    While this latter claim is true, it was the rise of vaudeville and the emergence of a more sophisticated type of humor that led to the demise of the "coon song"; the developments of ragtime, swing and jazz also meant that old-fashioned and archaic music forms quietly fell out of fashion; the same thing happened in due course to music hall.
  • "Bill Bailey..." was copyrighted 1902 by Howlery Haviland, and 1938 by Jerry Vogel Music. Writing in The Singing Bourgeois..., Derek Scott points out that the 1902 edition contained no ragtime rhythms. The song has long since become a standard, and was recorded in 1902 by both Arthur Collins on Columbia and Silas Leachman on Victoria; both had good sales, although whatever the dialect, this is clearly a song that is best sung by a woman. Later recordings include Della Reese from her 1961 album Special Delivery and a 1969 live duet between Ella Fitzgerald and Jimmy Durante at the Hollywood Palace, (an alluring combination). The song has also been popular as an instrumental.

    The sheet music has been widely published, including an arrangement c1988 for brass band by Eric Hughes. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 2

Comments: 3

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyPer: http://www.oldiesmusic.com/news.htm
    Actress/singer Della Reese, best remembered for her 1959 hit “Don’t You Know” (#2), died Sunday (November 19th, 2017) at her California home at the age of 86.
    Born Delloreese Patricia Early in Detroit, she started out in gospel music, singing in the ‘40s with Mahalia Jackson and later with Erskine Hawkins. As a solo R&B artist she broke out in 1957 with “And That Reminds Me” (#12) in 1957 but was soon signed by RCA Records. She appeared in the 1958 film, “Let’s Rock” but is better known for “Harlem Nights” in 1989 and the TV shows “Touched By An Angel”, “Chicao And The Man” and her own 1969 talk show, “Della.” She retired from acting three years ago. She was nominated for four Grammies and two Emmy Awards.
    May she R.I.P.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn June 7th 1960, Bobby Darin performed "Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home?" on the NBC-TV program 'The George Burns Show'...
    At the time the song was at #43 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; a little under four weeks later on July 4th, 1960 it would peak at #19 {for 1 week} and it stayed on the chart for 11 weeks...
    The record's B-side, "I'll Be There", also made the Top 100; it reached #79 on the chart...
    Between 1958 and 1973 he had forty Top 100 records; ten made the Top 10 with one reaching #1, "Mack the Knife" for 9 weeks in 1959...
    He just missed having a second #1 record when "Dream Lover" peaked at #2* {for 1 week} in 1959...
    Mr. Darin, born Walden Robert Cassotto, passed away on December 20th, 1973 at the young age of 37...
    May he R.I.P.
    * The week "Dream Love" it was at #2, the #1 record for that week was "The Battle of New Orleans" by Johnny Horton.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn March 31st 1963, Ella Fitzgerald's covered version of "Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home" entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #83, the following week it peaked at #75, then on its third and final week on the chart it was at #79...
    Between 1936 and 1963 she had fifty-seven hits on the Billboard charts; twenty made the Top 10 with three reaching #1, they were "Goodnight, My Love" {1937}, "A-Tisket, A-Tasket" {1938}, and "I'm Making Believe" b/w "Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall" with the Ink-Spots {1944}...
    Ella Jane Fitzgerald passed away on June 15th, 1996 at the age of 79...
    May she R.I.P.
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