Billy the Barber
X:1 T:Billy the Barber M:6/8 L:1/8 R:Jig S:White's Unique Collection (1896), No. 4 Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:G c | BcA G2D | E2D G2c | BcA G2A | Bdd edc | (Bc)A G2D | E2D G2A | B2c A2c | (BG)G G2 :: A | B2B BcA | B2d def | g2f e2d | dcB ABc | B2B (Bc)A | B2d def | g2e a2g | (fd)d d2 :|
BILLY THE BARBER SHAVED HIS FATHER. AKA and see "Lady of the Lake (1)." Irish, Jig. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. Although it is unknown as to whom the title may refer to, the tune is Irish and appears earliest in print in P.W. Joyce's Ancient Irish Music (1873) and Howe's 1000 Jigs and Reels (c. 1867). Howe notes: "A little slower than jig time" indicating perhaps that the melody was originally an air. Howe's parts are reversed from those printed in White. No doubt any barber named William was destined to be a 'Billy the Barber'. There was, however, a famous black American called Billy the Barber in the mid 19th century, although probably having nothing to do with the tune. William de Fleurville (also spelled Florville) was a Hatian immigrant who happened to make Abraham Lincoln's acquaintance in New Salem, Illinois, in 1831. The two became life-long friends. In 1841 Florville opened a barbershop in Springfield in "a new building opposite the north front of the State House," which Lincoln used as a favourite meeting place for friends and cronies. William also retained Lincoln's services for business deals, including real-estate transactions, and by the time of his death in 1868, he was one of the wealthiest men in Springfield. He had the honor to be an honorary pall-bearer at Lincoln's funeral.
Printed sources: Cole (1000 Fiddle Tunes), 1940; p. 73. Ford (Traditional Music in America), 1940; p. 104 (appears as "Billy the Barber"). Howe (1000 Jigs and Reels), c. 1867; p. 23. Joyce (Ancient Irish Music), 1873/1890; No. 95, p. 97. Ryan's Mammoth Collection, 1883; p. 104. White's Unique Collection, 1896; No. 4, p. 1.