Theme of the week: Big Joe Williams’ Baby Please Don’t Go
And here’s the song that started it all.
And here’s the song that started it all.
Them? I can hear y’all saying, “No… that’s Van Morrison, WTF?” Well, you’re right, it is Van Morrison. In a band. Called Them. This was the A side for their 1964 single. And the B side?
It’s been played to death on the radio, but Them’s Baby Please Don’t Go is still a rippin’ tune.
Even if you hate Van Morrison. And Gloria.
No, we’re still on the theme. Really. I’ll let Denise Sullivan from Crawdaddy.com explain (in a wholly unauthorized quote)…
Following his youth in an Ypsilanti, Michigan trailer park as Jim Osterberg, and after time done in his pre-Stooges bands, the Iguanas and the Prime Movers (noted as such for anyone who missed the memo), Iggy stole away to Chicago to be nearer the blues and to study the nightlife there. I Wanna Be Your Dog is a version of a blues song thanks to its trick of a thrice repeated line and its overall feeling, though that still doesn’t explain the dog, does it?
The likely source of the line is Baby Please Don’t Go, a blues song originally recorded by Big Joe Williams in 1935 (Baby please don’t go down to New Orleans / I love you so / Baby please don’t go) and known to rock fans as the A-side of the 1965 single by Van Morrison and Them (the B-side was Gloria). Both versions contain the line: ‘Fore I be your dog / Git you way down here / Make you walk the log / Baby please don’t go (sometimes for I can be heard like wanna). Williams’ song was a variation on Don’t You Leave Me Here, the roots of which are planted in Alabama Bound, and Elder Green. According to scholar Paul Oliver in his book Songsters and Saints, the songs circulated as early as 1912, parts of them date back to 1908, and Elder Green was recorded by Charley Patton in 1930. But it was Williams’ recording of Baby Please Don’t Go that elevated into the realm of musical standard: Working R&B bands knew it and eventually all the big bluesmen got around to recording it in the ’50s and ’60s, from Big Bill Broonzy, Muddy Waters, and Bukka White to Lightnin’ Hopkins, Mississippi Fred McDowell, John Lee Hooker, and Brownie McGhee. A 1962 version of the song by Bob Dylan, previously available only as a bootleg, surfaced officially a few years ago.
Okay, so maybe you’re not hearing it. Maybe it’s just my ear. It’s still a rockin’ song, so go forth and enjoy I Wanna Be Your Dog, by The Stooges. And kill some time at Crawdaddy.com while you’re at it, too.
Yesterday gave us the man who started it all, and today we’ve got Muddy Waters, whose 1953 Chess recording (Chess single #1542) of Big Joe Williams’ Baby Please Don’t Go was one of the snowflakes that kicked off the British Blues avalanche. Couldn’t find the Chess version online (and I ain’t posting my copy of it, as I’m still dealing with all the Russian, Chinese, and Eastern European relinkers who’re still linking to an mp3 of tomorrow’s version of Baby Please Don’t Go, which I took down months ago).
So, from the 1977 Molde Jazz Festival, here’s Mudddy Waters, with Baby Please Don’t Go.
Well… that was a nice little vacation from blogging, or whatever you’d call what I do in this place of mine here.
Ah, sarcasm abounds, heh. Had a minor burnout on music, to tell the truth. Playing, writing, listening… all of it. Those ol’ Nur Ein blues, they hit hard.
So I figured I’d come back with Paul Simon’s Still Crazy After All These Years, as the chorus has been stuck in my head for the past day or so. Didja ever actually listen to songs that’ve been stuck in your head? Right. So, in searching out rather non-existent video of that song, the perversity of the universe (and YouTube) threw Brother Ray’s Baby Please Don’t Go into the playlist.
And now I have a new theme. (Portland, Oregon musicians will have to wait just a little longer.)
First recorded in 1935 by Delta bluesman Big Joe Williams, this song is one that, though you may not be familiar with the version you’re hearing at the moment, this is one song that you know deep down in the bones. It is one of the cornerstones of rock & roll music, a part of the foundation of everything you hear today.
Well, everything that doesn’t suck. Heh.
So let’s kick the week off with Ray Charles, and his version of Big Joe Williams’ Baby Please Don’t Go.