Steamboat Bill - Nov. 17, 1910
		by Ren. Shields
Original Steamboat Bill Midi (courtesy of pdmusic.org)

  
  
  
  
  
  
Steamboat Bill was written almost exactly 99 years ago.  It told the story of a steamboat captain 
who died while trying to beat a record on the Mississippi.  We wanted Bill to live, so I wrote a few new 
lyrics.  Below you'll see the old lyrics next to our new ones.  We may have challenged history a bit 
not only by letting him live, but by letting him break the record.
 
I still don't know if Bill was a historical figure - Buster Keaton did do a movie in in 1928 titled Steamboat Bill, Jr.  
You can see the film version of Steamboat Bill, his father, in the film clip below.  Something tells me he wasn't the guy from 
the song because, for one thing, this Bill is alive.  Also, he is piloting "The Stonewall Jackson," not "The Whipperwill."  
The only explanation is that Bill lived, as in our version, and then went on to pilot a new boat...
 
 
			
Steamboat Bill - 1910
Down the Missi'ppi steamed the Whipperwill,
commanded by that pilot, Mister Steamboat Bill.
The owners gave him orders on the strick Q. T.,
to try and beat the record of the "Robert E. Lee."
Just feed up you fires, let the old smoke roll,
Burn up all your cargo if you run out of coal.
If we don't beat that record, Billy told the mate,
"send mail in care of Peter to the Golden gate."

CHORUS
Steamboat Bill, steaming down the Mississippi,
Steamboat Bill, a mighty man was he.
Steamboat Bill, steaming down the Mississippi,
going to beat the record of the "Robert E. Lee."

Up then stepped a gambling man from Louisville,
who tried to get a bet against the Whipperwill.
Billy flashed a roll that surely was a bear,
the boiler, it exploded, blew them up in the air.
The gambler said to Billy as they left the wreck,
"I don't know where we're going, but we're neck in neck."
Says Bill to the gambler, "I'll tell you what I'll do,
I will bet another thousand I'll go higher than you."

CHORUS
Steamboat Bill, he tore up the Mississippi,
Steamboat Bill, the tide it made him swear.
Steamboat Bill, he tore up the Mississippi,
the explosion of the boiler got him up in the air.

River's all in mourning now for Steamboat Bill,
no more you'll hear the puffing of the Whipperwill,
There's crape on ev'ry steamboat that plows those streams,
from Memphis right to Natchez down to New Orleans.
The wife of Mister William was at home in bed,
When she got the telegram that Steamboat's dead.
Says she to the children, "Bless each honey lamb,
the next papa that you will have will be a railroad man."

Steamboat Bill, missing on the Mississippi,
Steamboat Bill, is with an angel band,
Steamboat Bill, missing on the Mississippi,
he's a pilot on the ferry in that Promised Land.
Steamboat Bill - 2009
 
Down the Missippi steamed the Whipperwill,
commanded by that pilot, Mister Steamboat Bill.
The owners gave him orders on the strick Q. T.,
to try and beat the record of the "Robert E. Lee."
 Just feed up you fires, let that old smoke roll,
Burn up all your cargo if you run out of coal.
We gotta beat that record, Billy told the mate,
"No sense in even leavin’ if we’re gonna be late."
 
CHORUS
Steamboat Bill, steaming down the Mississippi,
Steamboat Bill, a mighty man is he.
Steamboat Bill, steaming down the Mississippi,
going to beat the record of the "Robert E. Lee."
 
Up then stepped a gambling man from Louisville,
who tried to get a bet against the Whipperwill.
Billy stoked the boiler made the gambler stare,
But that boiler exploded, Flew into the air.
The gambler said to Billy as they stood on the deck,
"Don't know where that boiler’s goin’ but your boat’s a wreck”
Says Bill to the crew, "You just follow me,
Everyone grab an oar we’ll beat the E. Lee
 
CHORUS
Steamboat Bill, he tore up the Mississippi,
Steamboat Bill, watch him paddle by.
Steamboat Bill, he tore up the Mississippi,
Cause his boiler exploded, flew into the sky.
 
River's all  talking now ‘bout Steamboat Bill,
How he and his crew paddled the Whipperwill,
Faster than steamboats that plow those streams,
from Memphis to Natchez down to New Orleans.
When the wife of Steamboat Billy heard what he did,
Gathered all the children, this is what she said.
"Bless each and every one of you my sweet honey lambs,
But I’m wishin’ that your papa was a railroad man."
 
Steamboat Bill, steaming down the Mississippi,
Steamboat Bill, a mighty man is he.
Steamboat Bill, steaming down the Mississippi,
He beat the record of the "Robert E. Lee."