Baby Let Me Follow You Down

Commentary

How this song ended up in Dylan’s repertoire is a complicated, convoluted story with no definitive answer. But it’s a great example of the “folk process”, the term used to describe how a song evolves over time and becomes a “new” song.

Here’s the condensed version of the story. During the spoken introduction on the recording, Dylan says that the first version he heard was by his friend and fellow folk musician Eric Von Schmidt. Von Schmidt however, said in a 1993 interview published in SongTalk: The Songwriter’s Newspaper, that Dylan’s version is not his arrangement. Von Schmidt said that he had copied it from another folksinger, Geno Foreman, who in turn had found it on a Blind Boy Fuller album . He goes on  to say that Dave Van Ronk’s version possibly influenced Dylan. All of these versions were titled Baby, Let Me Lay It on You.

The story continues. The influential blues musician Reverend Gary Davis claimed that he wrote the song and that Blind Willie Fuller learned it from him . To further complicate matters, Mance Lipscomb claims that he learned the song in 1926, and that he taught the song to Dylan in the early sixties. In his biography I Say Me For a Parable: The Oral Autobiography of Mance Lipscomb he says:

“Bob Dylan? M-hm. Rascal was a good friend a mine. But he got too much money offa one of my songs, an he won’t say nothin about it.”

We will probably never know exactly who Dylan got the song from and whose version he used. But the story of its evolution is enlightening. For what it’s worth, the composition is credited to Davis on the Last Waltz, the Martin Scorsese documentary of The Band’s final concert. It’s credited to Schmidt on www.bobdylan.com. Fuller and Lipscomb get no love at all.

Dylan’s version on his first recording is interesting, although the raucous electric version that he and The Band did for the The Last Waltz concert is the best, in my opinion.


Lyrics

I first heard this from Ric von Schmidt. He lives in Cambridge.
Ric is a blues guitar player. I met him one day on
The green pastures of the Harvard University.

Baby let me follow you down, baby let me follow you down
Well I’ll do anything in this godalmighty world
If you just let me follow you down.

Can I come home with you, baby can I come home with you ?
Yes I’ll do anything in this godalmighty world
If you just let me come home with you.

Baby let me follow you down, baby let me follow you down
Well I’ll do anything in this godalmighty world
If you just let me follow you down.

Yes I’ll do anything in this godalmighty world
If you just let me follow you down.

 


Mama, Let Me Lay It On You – as sung by Blind Boy Fuller

Mama, let me lay it on you.
Mama, let me lay it on you.
I’ll give you anything in this whole round world,
Let me lay it on you.

I’ll buy you Stragler shoes.
Cut your throat to boot.
I’ll give you anything in this whole round world,
Let me lay it on you.
Mama, let me lay it on you.
Please M’am, let me lay it on you.
I’ll give you anything in this whole round world,
Let me lay it on you.
Let me lay it on you.

I’ll buy you a bag and suit.
I’ll cut your throat to boot.
I’ll give you anything in this whole round world,
Let me lay it on you.
Let me lay it on you.

Why, I’ll buy you a Kingdom dress.
Baby, I don’t want no mess.
I’ll give you anything in this whole round world,
Let me lay it on you.
Baby, let me lay it on you.
Please M’am, let me lay it on you.
I’ll give you anything in this whole round world,
Let me lay it on you, I ain’t joking.
Goin’ lay it on you.

Now baby, let me lay it on you.
Please M’am,
I’ll give you anything in this whole round world,
Let me lay it on you.

I’ll buy you a fish-tail coat.
Baby, I will cut your throat.
I’ll give you anything in this whole round world,
Let me lay it on you.
Baby, let me lay it on you.
Mommy please, let me lay it on you.
I’ll give you anything in this whole round world,
Let me lay it on you.

I’ll buy you a Cadillac car.
So you can ride tomor’ ,
I’ll give you anything in this whole round world,

Let me lay it on you.
Please M’ am, let me lay it on you.
Oh baby, let me lay it on you.
I’ll give you anything in this whole round world,
Let me lay it on you.

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