The Bistro West Peachtree NW Atlanta Georgia
I had not planned on submitting this for publication, as I thought I had retired my passing ICONS for publication. I still write these little Icon notes but don't publish them now. However this year has been a particularly hard on old entertainers.
Jerry Jeff Walker has died October 23, 2020 @ 78 years old.
One of my old haunts back in the mid 60s in Atlanta was a converted house called The Bistro. It was located at 1102 W. Peachtree Street. I first saw Jerry Jeff Walker there ~ circa 1966-67. He sang a song about an old drunk he had met while he was in Jail in New Orleans. The song title was jiffy and brought back the memories of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson who danced in one of Shirley Temples movies.
This was long before he actually had recorded the song before it became a national hit for numerous groups (The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band). At the time he was just another traveling folk / country singer doing gigs where ever he could find them. In 1967 I was 22 and he was just 25. Normally most of those vagabond singers came and went with my noticing or remembering their names.
I remember that I was impressed with the with the song because it talked to the rambling fever most teenagers and young 20 age people felt at the time. We all seemed to admire the troubadours who rambles the streets of the USA with no particular place to go and no idea how to get there or get back and no real concern about tomorrow. The song and the singer’s name stayed with me. He eventually recorded the song in 1968 but I was out of the country at the time.
Like most young people at the time if you saw an old bum or wino on the side of the street you often thought to yourself; “look at that loser what do you think happened to him.” Well Jerry Jeff wrote the song about that old bum or wino. As it turns out his story was one of the elements that has been part of the American experience since the founding of this country. And then you hear Mr. Bo jangles by Jerry Jeff Walker and you realize this man has lived a life. As you grow a bit older, you begin to realize that you too have lived a life. Perhaps not as depressing as Mr. Bo jangles, but just as full of memories both good and bad.
When the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band released the song on a 1970 album. I immediately knew it was the song I had heard three years before. That cemented my brush with Jerry Jeff Walker forever in my mind. I was a longtime fan of him and his music as well as his covers of other songwriters.
A YOUNGER JERRY JEFF, A VACANT LOT WHERE THE MEMORIES LAY, AND AN OLD ADD AS PROOF IT DID EXIST. (Picture of Jerry Jeff Walker from his website)
The year 2020 has been a standout year for many reasons.
On an entertainment level we have lost:
Many more from the entertainment industry but those really have had a more direct connection to my youth and memories. I am sure some young 22 -25 years old kids have made permanent memories of the events during this year as well as their favorite entertainers. Then some fifty-threes years from now in 2073 some artist will die and they will say. Oh, yea I remember Him or Her. Ah, the pleasures of youth.
I have never been one to predict if someone who passes goes to Heaven or Hell as that is between them and the lord. Regardless of where they ended up, the Righteous Brothers - Rock and Roll Heaven (1974) may have been right. Well you know they've got a hell of a band, band, band.
I knew a man Bojangles and he'd dance for you
In worn out shoes
With silver hair, a ragged shirt, and baggy pants
The old soft shoe
He jumped so high, jumped so high
Then he lightly touched down
I met him in a cell in New Orleans I was
down and out
He looked to me to be the eyes of age
as he spoke right out
He talked of life, talked of life, he laughed
clicked his heels and stepped
He said his name "Bojangles" and he danced a lick
across the cell
He grabbed his pants and spread his stance,
Oh he jumped so high and then he clicked his heels
He let go a laugh, let go a laugh
ack his clothes all around
Mr. Bojangles, Mr. Bojangles
Mr. Bojangles, dance
He danced for those at minstrel shows and county fairs
throughout the south
He spoke through tears of 15 years how his dog and him
The dog up and died, he up and died
And after 20 years he still grieves
He said I dance now at every chance in honky tonks
for drinks and tips
But most the time I spend behind these county bars
'cause I drinks a bit
He shook his head, and as he shook his head
I heard someone ask him please
Mr. Bojangles, Mr. Bojangles
Mr. Bojangles, dance..
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