Jerry Jeff Walker’s ‘My Buddy’ Is a Hidden Gem
At the beginning of almost every story you read about Jerry Jeff Walker will be a line that includes a variation of this sentence: "The man that wrote 'Mr. Bojangles'."
And it's true. Jerry Jeff is best know for writing the hit that the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band made a classic, not only in country music, but rock and folk as well. It's one of the most well written songs of the past half century or more.
I first discovered Jerry Jeff Walker for myself back in the 1970's when i first fell in love with the songwriters. I've written before that it was Kris Kristofferson that first brought me to an appreciation of, not only the performers, but even more so the men and women who string incredible words together with great music. Whether Willie Nelson or Shel Silverstein, Merle Haggard or Dave Loggins and Max D. Barnes, it's the writers I admire most.
Jerry Jeff is considered one of the great 'Texas Singer/Songwriters' (even though he was from New York!) and along with folk's like Ed Bruce, Guy Clark and others, those Lone Star guys are high on my list of the best writers ever.
It was back in 1977 that Jerry Jeff released an album called 'A Man Must Carry On' and when we got it at the radio station I immediately put it on a production room turntable and cranked it up!
There was one tune on the album called 'My Buddy'. Plaintive and seemingly simple, it was one of those songs that, when you heard it, you played it again and again (or at least I did). Wow, i thought, Jerry Jeff did it again, a perfect song that cut's right to the truth. Except for one thing, as I found out.
Jerry Jeff didn't write it. And what I found out, as they say, blew me away!
The song 'My Buddy' was published in 1922, and has been recorded by legendary artist's like Count Basie, Rosemary Clooney, Bing Crosby, Doris Day, Jackie Gleason, Al Jolson, Guy Lombardo, Lena Horne and on and on and on.
Well, suffice to say I missed all that because in 1977, for me, it was another great song by one of the songwriter's I admire most. And apparently this songwriter recognizes someone elses great song when he hears it. So now, with music written by Walter Donaldson, lyrics by Gus Kahn and first published in 1922 give a listen to Jerry Jeff walker and 'My Buddy'.