Song Lyrics

Tell Old Bill

by Traditional

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Tell old Bill when he gets home this morning
Tell old Bill when he gets home this evening
Tell old Bill when he gets home
Leave those downtown girls alone
This morning, this evening, so soon

Old Bill's wife she was bakin' bread this morning
Old Bill's wife she was bakin' bread this evening
Old Bill's wife she was bakin' bread
When she found out that Bill was dead
This morning, this evening, so soon

She said oh no it can't be so this morning
She said oh no it can't be so this evening
She said oh no it can't be so
Bill left home about an hour ago
This morning, this evening, so soon

They brought Bill home in a hurry-up wagon this morning
Brought Bill home in a hurry-up wagon this evening
Brought Bill home in a hurry-up wagon
Brought him home with his feet a-draggin'
This morning, this evening, so soon

Tell old Bill when he gets home
Leave those downtown girls alone
This morning, this evening, so soon
This morning, this evening, so soon

Footnotes to Tell Old Bill

This song was copyrighted by Carl Sandburg as "Dis Mornin' An' Dis Evenin' So Soon." The song is clearly an African-American country blues number that may have originated from an older song in Georgia in the mid-nineteenth century. Sandburg told of hearing it in St. Louis in 1922 from a Nancy Barnhart, and it was roughly her arrangement he published. Sometime in the 30s, the recently-deceased Sam Hinton heard another version in Texas and recorded it. Sandburg's later editions of Song Bag reflect some of the elements of Hinton's song, and it is through that latter arrangement that most of us have come to know the number, courtesy of Sandburg's fellow Chicagoan Bob Gibson.

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