|"Baby, Please Don't Go"|
|Single by Joe Williams' Washboard Blues Singers|
|B-side||"Wild Cow Blues"|
|Recorded||Chicago, October 31, 1935|
|Songwriter(s)||Traditional (J. Williams credited on record)|
"Baby, Please Don't Go" is a traditional blues song that was popularized by Delta blues musician Big Joe Williams in 1935. Many cover versions followed, leading to its description as "one of the most played, arranged, and rearranged pieces in blues history" by French music historian Gérard Herzhaft.
After World War II, Chicago blues and rhythm and blues artists adapted the song to newer music styles. In 1952, a doo-wop version by the Orioles reached the top ten on the R&B chart. In 1953, Muddy Waters recorded the song as an electric Chicago-ensemble blues piece, which influenced many subsequent renditions. By the early 1950s, the song became a blues standard.
In the 1960s, "Baby, Please Don't Go" became a popular rock song after the Northern Irish group Them recorded it in 1964. Jimmy Page, a studio guitarist at the time, participated in the recording session, possibly on rhythm guitar. Subsequently, Them's uptempo rock arrangement also made it a rock standard. AC/DC and Aerosmith are among the rock groups who have recorded the song. "Baby, Please Don't Go" has been inducted into both the Blues and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame.
"Baby, Please Don't Go" is likely an adaptation of "Long John", an old folk theme which dates back to the time of slavery in the United States.Blues researcher Paul Garon notes that the melody is based on "Alabamy Bound", composed by Tin Pan Alley writer Ray Henderson, with lyrics by Buddy DeSylva and Bud Green in 1925. The song, a vaudeville show tune, inspired several other songs between 1925 and 1935, such as "Elder Greene Blues", "Alabama Bound", and "Don't You Leave Me Here". These variants were recorded by Charlie Patton, Lead Belly, Monette Moore, Henry Thomas, and Tampa Red.
Author Linda Dahl suggests a connection to a song with the same title by Mary Williams Johnson in the late 1920s and early 1930s.However, Johnson, who was married to jazz-influenced blues guitarist Lonnie Johnson, never recorded it and her song is not discussed as influencing later performers. Blues researcher Jim O'Neal notes that Williams "sometimes said that the song was written by his wife, singer Bessie Mae Smith (aka Blue Belle and St. Louis Bessie)."
Big Joe Williams used the imprisonment theme for his October 31, 1935, recording of "Baby, Please Don't Go". He recorded it during his first session for Lester Melrose and Bluebird Records in Chicago. 4
4 or common time in the key of B flat. As with many Delta blues songs of the era, it remains on the tonic chord (I) throughout without the progression to the subdominant (IV) or dominant (V) chords. The lyrics express a prisoner's anxiety about his lover leaving before he returns home:
Now baby please don't go, now baby please don't go
Baby please don't go back to New Orleans, and get your cold ice cream
I believe there's a man done gone, I believe there's a man done gone
I believe there's a man done gone to the county farm, with a long chain on
The song became a hit and established Williams' recording career.On December 12, 1941, he recorded a second version titled "Please Don't Go" in Chicago for Bluebird, with a more modern arrangement and lyrics. Blues historian Gerard Herzhaft calls it "the most exciting version", which Williams recorded using his trademark nine-string guitar. Accompanying him are Sonny Boy Williamson I on harmonica and Alfred Elkins on imitation bass (possibly a washtub bass). Since both songs appeared before recording industry publications began tracking such releases, it is unknown which version was more popular. In 1947, he recorded it for Columbia Records with Williamson and Ransom Knowling on bass and Judge Riley on drums. This version did not reach the Billboard Race Records chart, but represents a move toward a more urban blues treatment of the song.
Big Joe Williams' various recordings inspired other blues musicians to record their interpretations of the songand it became a blues standard. Early examples include Papa Charlie McCoy as "Tampa Kid" (1936), Leonard "Baby Doo" Caston (1939), Lightnin' Hopkins (1947), John Lee Hooker (1949), and Big Bill Broonzy (1952). By the early 1950s, the song was reworked in contemporary musical styles, with an early rhythm and blues/jump blues version by Billy Wright (1951), a harmonized doo-wop version by the Orioles (a number eight R&B hit in 1952), and an Afro-Cuban-influenced rendition by Rose Mitchell (1954). Mose Allison recorded the tune in his jazz-blues piano style for the album Transfiguration of Hiram Brown (1960).
In 1953, Muddy Waters recast the song as a Chicago-blues ensemble piece with Little Walter and Jimmy Rogers.Chess Records originally issued the single with the title "Turn the Lamp Down Low", although the song is also referred to as "Turn Your Lamp Down Low", "Turn Your Light Down Low", or "Baby Please Don't Go". He regularly performed the song, several of which were recorded. Live versions appear on Muddy Waters at Newport 1960 and on Live at the Checkerboard Lounge, Chicago 1981 with members of the Rolling Stones. AllMusic critic Bill Janovitz cites the influence of Waters' adaptation:
The most likely link between the Williams recordings and all the rock covers that came in the 1960s and 1970s would be the Muddy Waters 1953 Chess side, which retains the same swinging phrasing as the Williams takes, but the session musicians beef it up with a steady driving rhythm section, electrified instruments and Little Walter Jacobs wailing on blues harp.
|"Baby, Please Don't Go"|
|Single by Them|
|Songwriter(s)||Traditional (Williams credited)|
|Them singles chronology|
"Baby Please Don't Go" was one of the earliest songs recorded by Them, fronted by a 19-year-old Van Morrison. Their rendition of the song was derived from a version recorded by John Lee Hooker in 1949 as "Don't Go Baby".Hooker's song later appeared on a 1959 album, Highway of Blues, which Van Morrison heard and felt was "something really unique and different" with "more soul" than he had previously heard.
Them recorded "Baby, Please Don't Go" for Decca Records in October 1964. Besides Morrison, there is conflicting information about who participated in the session. In addition to the group's original members (guitarist Billy Harrison, bassist Alan Henderson, drummer Ronnie Millings, and keyboard player Eric Wrixon), others have been suggested: Pat McAuley on keyboards, Bobby Graham on a second drum kit, Jimmy Page on second guitar,and Peter Bardens on keyboards. As Page biographer George Case notes, "There is a dispute over whether it is Page's piercing blues line that defines the song, if he only played a run Harrison had already devised, or if Page only backed up Harrison himself". Morrison has acknowledged Page's participation in the early sessions: "He played rhythm guitar on one thing and doubled a bass riff on the other" and Morrison biographer Johnny Rogan notes that Page "doubled the distinctive riff already worked out by Billy Harrison".
Janovitz identifies the riff as "the backbone of the arrangement" and describes Henderson's contribution as an "amphetamine-rush, pulsing two-note bass line."Music critic Greil Marcus comments that during the song's quieter middle passage "the guitarist, session player Jimmy Page or not, seems to be feeling his way into another song, flipping half-riffs, high, random, distracted metal shavings". Them's blues rock arrangement is "now regarded justly as definitive", according to music writer Alan Clayson.
Decca released "Baby, Please Don't Go" as Them's second single on November 6, 1964.With the B-side, "Gloria", it became their first hit, reaching number ten on the UK Singles Chart in February 1965. In the US, the single was released by Parrot Records. On March 20, Billboard magazine first listed the song on its extended "Bubbling Under the Hot 100" chart, where it eventually peaked at number 102 on April 24. The single fared better on the West Coast, where both songs appeared on weekly Top 40 playlists for Los Angeles radio station KRLA between March and June 1965, reaching number one for three weeks in April.
The song was not included on Them's original British or American albums ( The Angry Young Them and Them Again ), however, it has appeared on several compilation albums, such as The Story of Them Featuring Van Morrison and The Best of Van Morrison .When it was reissued in 1991 as a single in the UK, it reached number 65 in the chart. Van Morrison also accompanied John Lee Hooker during a 1992 performance, where Hooker sings and plays "Baby, Please Don't Go" on guitar while sitting on a dock, with harmonica backing by Morrison; it was released on the 2004 Come See About Me Hooker DVD.
"Baby, Please Don't Go" was a feature of AC/DC's live shows since their beginning.Although they have expressed their interest and inspiration in early blues songs, music writer Mick Wall identifies Them's adaptation of the song as the likely source. In November 1974, Angus Young, Malcolm Young, and Bon Scott recorded it for their 1975 Australian debut album, High Voltage . Tony Currenti is sometimes identified as the drummer for the song, although he suggests that it had been already recorded by Peter Clack. Wall notes that producer George Young played bass for most of the album, although Rob Bailey claims that many of the album's tracks were recorded with him.
High Voltage and a single with "Baby, Please Don't Go" were released simultaneously in Australia in February 1975.AllMusic critic Eduardo Rivadavia called the song "positively explosive". Albert Productions issued it as the single's B-side. However, the A-side "Love Song (Oh Jene)" was largely ignored and "Baby, Please Don't Go" began receiving airplay. The single entered the chart at the end of March 1975 and peaked at number 10 in April. Also on March 23, 1975, one month after drummer Phil Rudd and bassist Mark Evans joined AC/DC, the group performed the song for the first time (this performance would also be repeated on April 6 and 27, which is why there is often conflicting dates for this performance) on the Australian music program Countdown . For their appearance, "Angus wore his trade mark schoolboy uniform while Scott took the stage wearing a wig of blonde braids, a dress, make-up, and earrings", according to author Heather Miller. Joe Bonomo describes Scott as "a demented Pippi Longstocking", and Perkins notes his "tattoos and a disturbingly short skirt." Evans describes the reaction:
As soon as his vocals are about to begin he comes out from behind the drums dressed as a schoolgirl. And it was like a bomb went off in the joint; it was pandemonium, everybody broke out in laughter. [Scott] had a wonderful sense of humor.
Scott mugs for the camera and, during the guitar solo/vocal improvization section, he lights a cigarette as he duels with Angus with a green mallet.Rudd laughs throughout the performance. Although "Baby, Please Don't Go" was a popular part of AC/DC's performances (often as the closing number), the song was not released internationally until their 1984 compilation EP '74 Jailbreak . The video from the Countdown show is included on 2005's Family Jewels DVD compilation.
Aerosmith recorded "Baby, Please Don't Go" for their blues cover album, Honkin' on Bobo , which was released on March 30, 2004.The album was produced by Jack Douglas, who had worked on the group's earlier albums, and reflects a return to their hard rock roots. Billboard magazine describes the song as "the kind of straight-ahead, hard-driving track that always typified the band's [1970s] records". Edna Gundersen of USA Today called their version a "terrific revival." It was the first single to be released from the album and reached number seven on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. A music video, directed by Mark Haefeli, was produced to promote the single. Subsequently, the song has become a staple of the band's concert repertoire.
"Baby, Please Don't Go" is recognized as a blues standard, including by French blues historian Gérard Herzhaft, who described it as "one of the most played, arranged, and rearranged pieces in blues history". The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame included Big Joe Williams' rendition in list of "500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll".
In 1992, Williams' song was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in the "Classics of Blues Recordings" category.The Foundation noted that, in addition to various blues recordings, "the song was revived in revved-up fashion by rock bands in the '60s such as Them, the Amboy Dukes, and Ten Years After". AllMusic's Janovitz describes recordings in a variety of styles and notes "Sure, some guitarists like Angus Young and Ted Nugent have offered slick and fancy licks over breakneck tempos in their versions, but the song remains the same, to quote a phrase"
John Lee Hooker was an American blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist. The son of a sharecropper, he rose to prominence performing an electric guitar-style adaptation of Delta blues. Hooker often incorporated other elements, including talking blues and early North Mississippi Hill country blues. He developed his own driving-rhythm boogie style, distinct from the 1930s–1940s piano-derived boogie-woogie. Hooker was ranked 35 in Rolling Stone's 2015 list of 100 greatest guitarists.
Slide guitar is a technique for playing the guitar that is often used in blues music. It involves playing a guitar while holding a hard object against the strings, creating the opportunity for glissando effects and deep vibratos that reflect characteristics of the human singing voice. It typically involves playing the guitar in the traditional position with the use of a slide fitted on one of the guitarist's fingers. The slide may be a metal or glass tube, such as the neck of a bottle. The term bottleneck was historically used to describe this type of playing. The strings are typically plucked while the slide is moved over the strings to change the pitch. The guitar may also be placed on the player's lap and played with a hand-held bar.
McKinley Morganfield, known professionally as Muddy Waters, was an American blues singer-songwriter and musician who was an important figure in the post-war blues scene, and is often cited as the "father of modern Chicago blues." His style of playing has been described as "raining down Delta beatitude."
Muddy Waters (1913–1983) was an American blues artist widely considered to be one of the most important figures in post–World War II Chicago blues. He popularized several early Delta blues songs, such as "Rollin' and Tumblin'", Walkin' Blues", and "Baby, Please Don't Go", and recorded songs that went on to become blues standards, including "Hoochie Coochie Man", "Mannish Boy", and "Got My Mojo Working". During his recording career from 1941 to 1981, he recorded primarily for two record companies, Aristocrat/Chess and Blue Sky; they issued 62 singles and 13 studio albums.
"You Shook Me" is a 1962 blues song recorded by Chicago blues artist Muddy Waters. Willie Dixon wrote the lyrics and Earl Hooker provided the instrumental backing; the song features Waters' vocal in unison with Hooker's slide-guitar melody. "You Shook Me" became one of Muddy Waters' most successful early-1960s singles and has been interpreted by several blues and rock artists.
"Boogie Chillen'" or "Boogie Chillun" is a blues song first recorded by John Lee Hooker in 1948. It is a solo performance featuring Hooker's vocal, electric guitar, and rhythmic foot stomps. The lyrics are partly autobiographical and alternate between spoken and sung verses. The song was his debut record release and in 1949, it became the first "down-home" electric blues song to reach number one in the R&B records chart.
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Walter Davis was an American blues singer, pianist, and songwriter who was one of the most prolific blues recording artists from the early 1930s to the early 1950s.
"Gloria" is a rock song written by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison, and originally recorded by Morrison's band Them in 1964. It was released as the B-side of "Baby, Please Don't Go". The song became a garage rock staple and a part of many rock bands' repertoires. It is particularly memorable for its "Gloria!" chorus. It is easy to play, as a simple three-chord song, and thus is popular with those learning to play guitar.
"Spoonful" is a blues song written by Willie Dixon and first recorded in 1960 by Howlin' Wolf. Called "a stark and haunting work", it is one of Dixon's best known and most interpreted songs. Etta James and Harvey Fuqua had a pop and R&B record chart hit with their duet cover of "Spoonful" in 1961, and it was popularized in the late 1960s by the British rock group Cream.
"Smokestack Lightning" is a blues song recorded by Howlin' Wolf in 1956. It became one of his most popular and influential songs. It is based on earlier blues songs, and numerous artists later interpreted it.
"Trouble No More" is an upbeat blues song first recorded by Muddy Waters in 1955. It is a variation on "Someday Baby Blues", recorded by Sleepy John Estes in 1935. The song was a hit in 1956, reaching number seven in the Billboard R&B chart. The Allman Brothers Band further popularized the song with recordings in the late 1960s and 1970s.
"Hoochie Coochie Man" is a blues standard written by Willie Dixon and first recorded by Muddy Waters in 1954. The song makes reference to hoodoo folk magic elements and makes novel use of a stop-time musical arrangement. It became one of Waters' most popular and identifiable songs and helped secure Dixon's role as Chess Records' chief songwriter.
"Rock Me Baby" is a blues standard that has become one of the most recorded blues songs of all time. It originated as "Rockin' and Rollin'", a 1951 song by Lil' Son Jackson, itself inspired by earlier blues. Renditions by Muddy Waters and B.B. King made the song well-known. When B.B. King's recording of "Rock Me Baby" was released in 1964, it became his first single to reach the Top 40 in Billboard magazine's Hot 100 chart.
"Little Red Rooster" is a blues standard credited to arranger and songwriter Willie Dixon. The song was first recorded in 1961 by American blues musician Howlin' Wolf in the Chicago blues style. His vocal and slide guitar playing are key elements of the song. It is rooted in the Delta blues tradition and the theme is derived from folklore. Musical antecedents to "Little Red Rooster" appear in earlier songs by blues artists Charlie Patton and Memphis Minnie.
"Boom Boom" is a song written by American blues singer and guitarist John Lee Hooker and recorded in 1961. Although it became a blues standard, music critic Charles Shaar Murray calls it "the greatest pop song he ever wrote". "Boom Boom" was both an American R&B and pop chart success in 1962 and a UK top-twenty hit in 1992.
"Worried Life Blues" is a blues standard and one of the most recorded blues songs of all time. Originally recorded by Big Maceo Merriweather in 1941, "Worried Life Blues" was an early blues hit and Maceo's most recognized song. An earlier song inspired it and several artists have had record chart successes with their interpretations of the song.
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"You Don't Love Me" is a rhythm and blues-influenced blues song recorded by American musician Willie Cobbs in 1960. Adapted from Bo Diddley's 1955 song "She's Fine She's Mine", it is Cobbs' best-known song and features a guitar figure and melody that has appealed to musicians in several genres.