24 September 2008

Big Bad Bill . . .

Big Bad Bill is Sweet William Now, was written in 1924 by Jack Yellen and Milton Ager. Yellen was the lyricist. He emigrated to America in 1897. Yellen became part of the tin-pan alley. Ager, the composer, was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1893 about a year after YellenAger was a self taught pianist. He and Ager wrote Happy Days Are Here Again.


Lyrics get short-shrift in culture. We hear the music, the beat, see the instruments and players, see the atmospherics, hear the voices. Lyrics are heard but overwhelmed unless intentionally focused on. I like the lyrics. I was intrigued. Here is a tale of transformation.

Big bad Bill is sweet William now; what's up with that? It's the story of a struttin' tough guy, who people are afraid of, who meets a gal, gets married, gets his hair bobbed, and is transformed into a husband, doin' dishes and mopping flo', whose got to see his mama every night. Van Halen, Peggy Lee, Rye Cooder, Merle Haggard have all covered the fund; all are searchable.

Transformation intrigues me. How is it one is transformed? Perhaps it's by an encounter with a particular person in a particular time and place; the power of one, as it were, to transform one's life and move one onto, into, another path, that would never have been known, considered, undertaken. It is often grasped with the passage of time and the grace to perceive it.

I believe transformation is the power of all that we live and move and have our being in.

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