Tell Old Bill

Tell Old Bill – aka Ol’ Bill – aka This Evening So Soon – is a folk song that can be traced back to the early Ragtime era. This version comes from Dave Van Ronk’s second album released in 1961. Van Ronk’s source was most likely Bob Gibson, an influential 1950’s folkie, who recorded a version in 1957. Gibson got his version from Carl Sandburg’s collection of folk songs, American Songbag. The version in John and Alan Lomax’s book American Ballads and Folk Songs, also credits Sandburg. The song melody and the lyric refrain seem to come from an early ragtime composition by Ben Harney titled, “You’ve Been a Good Old Wagon, But You Done Broke Down” which is considered to be the first ragtime tune ever published.