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Baby, Let Me Follow You Down


[1] contributed by EDLIS
[2] contributed by Matthew Zuckerman

In "SongTalk: The Songwriters Newspaper" 3(2), 13 (1993), Larry Jaffee interviewed Rick Von Schmidt about his supposed composition of this song. Jaffee wrote that Dylan came to Von Schmidt's home one evening in 1960 to jam, when Eric performed for him a version of "Baby Let Me Lay It On You," which he thought was "a Blind Boy Fuller song that I had learned from another white guy, Geno Foreman."

The chords Dylan used on his 1962 album version, Von Schmidt also believed, came from a Dave Van Ronk song. "The way I played it was as close as I could get to Geno Foreman's version, which I assumed was Blind Boy Fuller, but I never heard him play this thing." In any case, what Dylan ended up playing on the album "was not what he heard from me," Von Schmidt noted.

"What finally broke the whole thing to some kind of completion [was] when [film director Martin] Scorese did "The Last Waltz," in which Dylan performed 'Baby Let Me Follow You Down.'" "What finally happened was that Manny Greenhill,...[who] managed Gary Davis...sat Gary down and asked. 'What songs did you write?'... One of them was 'Baby Let Me Follow You Down.'"

Von Schmidt thinks there may be some justification to Davis's contention because Davis and Fuller were both from Durham, North Carolina. "Blind Boy Fuller probably learned more from Gary than the other way around...." The spoken introduction on the original album version is intended to satirize folk music prefaces. In the notes, Dylan said he believed that Rick von Schmidt had gotten some elements from an old recording by Horace Sprott, an Alabama sharecropper whom Frederick Ramsey, Jr. had recorded for Folkways.

-contributed by EDLIS -