Mr. Bojangles
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

A Story in My Story

As a young rock musician, I loved this song in the late 60s and throughout the 70s. So many of us who played music during that time frame drank and drugged to excess, so when we heard this song we could easily imagine the story of this old performer who lost everything to drinking. As 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." As we spent very late nights in bars after our gigs, we knew it was possible to one day end up like Bojangles...playing for drinks and tips. It was in early 1981 while being close to the gates of insanity and death from alcohol that I came back to the Fellowship of A.A. and sobered up. Since then, this song has been very near to my heart, knowing how close I came to actually becoming Mr. Bojangles. My last drunk was as a traveling instructor during a week long seminar engagement in New Orleans. I realized that in every way, except for the jail time, my life was becoming like Mr. Bojangles. But by the Grace of God and A.A., I was saved from that hell. Well, as life would have it, when my close friend and dog Simon suddenly died in 2012, I began to fully understood the lyric "the dog up and died, he up and died, after 20 years he still grieves." After nine years I still grieve. So, I know that this song is about me...about us. Enjoy the lyrics.
Michael P.

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
and shook back 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
traveled about
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

"I am responsible… When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of A.A. always to be there.

And for that: I am responsible."