Where can I find a certain Gillian Welch recording?
December 3, 2005 6:11 PM   Subscribe

Where can I find the version of "Didn't Leave Nobody But The Baby" performed by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings on NPR's World Cafe?

I heard this version only once, a few years ago, and have become semi-obsessed with locating it (or a similar performance of it by Welch and Rawlings). It is very different than the version on the "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack.

It doesn't seem to appear on any of the World Cafe compilations, nor does it seem to be available as a download on Gillian Welch's website.

I've done some pretty extensive web searches for this recording in the past - hopefully, one of you can make me feel dumb by quickly showing me where to find it...
posted by JeffL to Media & Arts (9 answers total)
This page offers some live versions of the song for trade, but none are from World Cafe.
posted by Biblio at 7:03 PM on December 3, 2005

I don't know a version similar to what you heard on that show exists in recorded form. But the song is a traditional one and has been collected many times by folklorists. I found a couple citations for it on the Library of Congress page on Alan and Ruby Lomax's 1939 song collecting trip through the American south [texts below]. Those field recordings now reside in the LoC, where you can listen to them. You can hear a couple as playable audio, below:

Florida Hampton, May 29, 1939

We remembered Aunt Florida from a previous visit to Livingston for her Br'er Rabbit and other animal stories. She looked just right to tell such children's stories and to sing lullabies and game songs. Yes, she would sing a lullaby for us if she could get it tohetjer. She guessed we already had Rock-a-by baby in the tree-top, but she used to sing another to the babies, Go to sleep. We knew her version would give us some interesting variation:

Go to sleep- (Do, de bugger-bearcatch you)- Lullaby
Go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleepy, little baby
Hush, little baby, don't you cry
Do, de bugger-bear catch you
Go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleepy, little baby,
Mamma run away, Daddy wouldn't stay
Lef' nobody but de baby.
Hush, little baby, don't you cry,
Do, de bugger-bear catch you.

Go to sleep, etc.

Here's another from a different singer.

Another version which seems to have no associated audio, but is described in the field notes:

Go to sleep-- sung but not recorded by Mandy Tartt
Go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleepy, little baby
Mamma gone to York, Papa gone to town (York is eight miles fro Livingston, Ala)
Nobod here but de baby
Go to sleep, etc.
When she come back, she goin' suckle little baby.

I've never explored this song before, but apparently it's closely related to "All the Pretty Horses", so you may want to explore that title too, using the LoC links.

Why am I bothering you with this dusty folkore stuff? Because it's possible that Gillian and David built their version by working directly from field recordings. The more you get into roots music, the more you find people going to the source to find songs that aren't well known, and reworking them for a modern audience. If you can't find another contemporary recording of it, that very well might be what they did.
posted by Miko at 7:08 PM on December 3, 2005

Miko, whether those links help JeffL or not, they're AWESOME. Thanks.
posted by cgc373 at 7:31 PM on December 3, 2005

Is it perhaps on "Down from the Mountain" the live version of the Brother soundtrack?
posted by Dag Maggot at 8:17 PM on December 3, 2005

Response by poster: Biblio - That's a possibility. I'll send that guy an email, see if there's something I can trade.

Miko - Interesting links, thanks.

Dag Maggot - According to Amazon, it's not on that soundtrack.

What I remember as being distinctive about this performance was some pretty dissonant guitar from Rawlings, and a much more melancholy feel than the (semi-) famous version in the movie.
posted by JeffL at 8:44 PM on December 3, 2005

Two Welch/Rawlings World Café performances are mentioned on this show trading list.
posted by holgate at 10:48 PM on December 3, 2005

Jeff -- if it's that specific performance you want, you might be able to locate it and download it for a small fee at audible.com
posted by Miko at 6:51 AM on December 4, 2005

[David Rawlings is an awe-inspiring guitarist.]
posted by Miko at 6:52 AM on December 4, 2005

Response by poster: Biblio's link led me to a live BBC version of the song very similar to the one I was looking for - it's just too bad the BBC radio guy feels the need to talk over the last chord :)

Thanks everyone.
posted by JeffL at 7:21 PM on December 4, 2005

« Older the joy of a child, in a 70-minute cd   |   tab characters in my textarea Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.