“Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home?”

Alternate titles: “Won't You Come Home Bill Bailey?”
Author: Hughie Cannon
Earliest date: 1902 (sheet music, recording by Arthur Collins)
Keywords: love separation reunion
Found in: US


Bill (a B&O brakeman) and his woman have a fight; he storms out. She begs, "Won't you come home, Bill Bailey... I'll do the cooking, honey, I'll pay the rent; I know I've done you wrong." (At last Bill shows up in an automobile)


Although obviously not a folk song in origin, this strikes me as a popular enough piece as to belong here. Fuld mentions several papers examining who "Bill Bailey" might have been. He seems to find none of them entirely convincing.

The story in Geller is that William Bailey was a "lazy shiftless Negro whose angry spouse, weary of supporting him, had finally turned him out." Cannon, apparently too sexist to fathom this, was convinced she would take him back, and made the wife the lazy one.

Spaeth's _A History of Popular Music in America_ mentions another 1902 song, "I Wonder Why Bill Bailey Don't Come Home" (by Frank Fogarty, Woodward, Mills), and still another, "Since Bill Bailey Came Back Home," by Billy Johnson and Seymour Furth. Unfortunately, he supplies no details. - RBW

Cross references



  1. Silber-FSWB, p. 253, "Bill Bailey" (1 text)
  2. Geller-Famous, pp. 205-210, "Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Fuld-WFM, pp. 145-146, "Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home?"
  5. Roud #4325
  6. BI, FSWB253B