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Didn't Leave Nobody But the Baby

Related threads:
Lyr Req: Didn't Leave Nobody But the Baby (Carter) (9)
Lyr Req: Didn't Leave Nobody But the Baby (10)


Whitedog 24 Feb 02 - 04:27 PM
pattyClink 26 Feb 02 - 09:46 AM
Whitedog 26 Feb 02 - 12:31 PM
pattyClink 26 Feb 02 - 01:59 PM
masato sakurai 26 Feb 02 - 06:39 PM
Sorcha 26 Feb 02 - 07:10 PM
Coyote Breath 26 Feb 02 - 08:15 PM
Rolfyboy6 27 Feb 02 - 01:27 AM
Whitedog 27 Feb 02 - 08:52 AM
Margaret V 27 Feb 02 - 10:05 PM
Whitedog 28 Feb 02 - 11:24 AM
GUEST,editor@sasquatch.com 27 Dec 02 - 01:33 PM
Sorcha 27 Dec 02 - 02:16 PM
GUEST,Amanda 15 Apr 12 - 09:57 PM
GUEST,leeneia 16 Apr 12 - 12:24 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 16 Apr 12 - 02:10 PM
GUEST 01 Feb 16 - 07:11 AM
GUEST,The Baby 02 Mar 16 - 04:15 PM
GUEST 22 Apr 18 - 11:31 PM
wysiwyg 23 Apr 18 - 10:17 AM
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Subject: 'Didn't leave Nobody But The Baby'
From: Whitedog
Date: 24 Feb 02 - 04:27 PM

Will someone please explain the ending to this song? My friend and I both have the "O Brother Whrere Art Thou?" CD and she says she can't stand to hear the 'Baby' song as she thinks the baby is killed (at end of song). Guess we take things to literally sometime, but please offer your opinions. And they don't have to be humble! Judy

Lyrics posted in this thread (click)


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Subject: RE: 'Didn't leave Nobody But The Baby'
From: pattyClink
Date: 26 Feb 02 - 09:46 AM

I don't know with any authority what this song is trying to say, but I will give you an alternate interpretation that might make your relative rest easier.

I am picturing a young girl of the house in charge of minding the babies, keeping them in the shade beside the field where the rest of the family is working, in sight of mother but out of the sun. 'everybody's gone in the cotton and the corn' means everybody is picking or hoeing cotton. If it's really hot, which i guarantee you it is if they are hoeing cotton, maybe she lays the baby or toddler's pallet on top of an old grave slab in the little family cemetery, which many an old farm has right next to the fields. 'come lay your bones on the alabaster stones'.

There now, isn't that better?


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Subject: RE: 'Didn't leave Nobody But The Baby'
From: Whitedog
Date: 26 Feb 02 - 12:31 PM

Patty, As some already know on this site, I freely admit to being (now turned) 53 and to growing up on a farm in West Tennessee, so know all about cotton and corn patches. I also know about family cemeteries or some stones often hidden in woods and long forgotten. I guess my friend and I both want to make something that should be "simple" and taken at face value..complicated. I printed out all the words, so with lines like "Your momma's gone away and your daddy's gone to stay" and "She's lone gone with the red shoes on Gonna meet another lovin baby" and "You and me and the devil makes three Don't need no other lovin baby" just makes it hard to think that momma and daddy are just out hoeing/pulling cottom or corn and is letting the baby sleep in the cool..with a friend until they return. Oh well, as I said..we just like to make it complicated!! I also found on the Wisconsin Public Radio (archives) show that they played "Didn't Leave Nobody But the Baby" by Mrs. Sidney Carter (1959 Senatobia, MS) Southern Journey: 61 Highway MississippiRounder 1703. I tried to go to Rounder page and just got the "error" message even when I refreshed the page. Would like to hear the original, and also to know more about Mrs. Sidney Carter. Did she write the song or was it one of the old folk songs that she heard as a child. (Like the songs on the Childballad site) Well, anyway, thanks for your response!! Maybe some others will add their knowledge. Also, I would add that I have Mudcat to thank so much anyway, as they did a wonderful job in helping me find songs that my Uncle sang and I was trying to find sources. My Uncle (Franklin) died this Jan 14th, but because of all the wonderful feedback from the Mudcat forum, we now have many many of his songs and the words for them that I wouldn't have been able to find on my own. THANKS! judy


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Subject: RE: 'Didn't leave Nobody But The Baby'
From: pattyClink
Date: 26 Feb 02 - 01:59 PM

Sorry for the simpleminded response, I didn't mean to patronize your farm knowledge. I hope someone can provide more info. To me the other three verses just sound like easy-rhyming verses someone would make up 'cause they sound good, but maybe I am listening in too shallow a way. I'll sign off, in hopes the person with The Answer comes forward!


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Subject: RE: 'Didn't leave Nobody But The Baby'
From: masato sakurai
Date: 26 Feb 02 - 06:39 PM

Various Artists, Southern Journey V. 3: 61 Highway Mississippi -- Delta Country Blues, Spirituals, Work Songs & Dance Music, with sound clips.

~Masato


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Subject: RE: 'Didn't leave Nobody But The Baby'
From: Sorcha
Date: 26 Feb 02 - 07:10 PM

I would venture another opinion.......which could be, and probably is, wrong. It's not about two legged human babies at all (except the "getting" of them") It's about carnal relations (SEX!) as are most blues songs......so they are boffing on the tombstone.......


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Subject: RE: 'Didn't leave Nobody But The Baby'
From: Coyote Breath
Date: 26 Feb 02 - 08:15 PM

yup! (Sorcha) I believe you are right. Wasn't there something to that effect in the liner notes? Maybe I dreamed it. Now I kinda see the alabaster stones as an altar, which gives the song a truly creepy aspect. Especially after the reference to you, me, and the Devil making three, a sort of AntiTrinity?! Given the setting it is sung in (a variation of the scene with salvation as it's theme?) and the connection to the sirens in Homer's epic... Didn't leave nobody but the baby.

All the sinners devoured (only the bones are left) and only the innocent survives.

CB


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Subject: RE: 'Didn't leave Nobody But The Baby'
From: Rolfyboy6
Date: 27 Feb 02 - 01:27 AM

Like any good down home bluesy song it's all of the above simultaneously in a rich psychic stew.


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Subject: RE: 'Didn't leave Nobody But The Baby'
From: Whitedog
Date: 27 Feb 02 - 08:52 AM

I think this is like any song, that the singing of it is completely open to interpretation, not only by the singer, but by the listener. When a folklorist came around in the early 80's to tape some of "Grannie's" songs, he would ask Granny after each song, "What does that mean to you?" "What was the girl thinking about when she hung herself after discovering her lover had betrayed her?" "What kind of woman would help drown her sister in the miller's pond?" Well, granny replied that she had never thought about any of this, that she just sang the songs. Her mother had sang them to her and that was just the way it was. When he prodded more, granny just said that the girl was foolish to hang herself all for the love of that "butcher" boy. The Blues songs have double meanings IF not just outright sexual comments. Need a new coffee grinder? You've been a good old wagon, but the wagon done broke down...are the mild ones. I think it would take a very nieve person to sing these songs and NOT KNOW of the real meanings. OK, my point is simple. Granny would have sang the "Baby" song with complete innocence and never given any dark meanings a thought. Others, with more sophistication, would sing it with all kinds of implications. So, why not just enjoy the songs on whatever level you like? And Patty, you didn't patronize me at all. Sometimes, I'm just not good at saying things. I was actually agreeing with you, and the telling of my background was just to show that I really did understand what you were saying. I think I will be like granny...and just enjoy. Life is complicated enough already! Thanks to all! And I am going to order the RECORD. Thanks for the info. Masato. Judy


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Subject: RE: 'Didn't leave Nobody But The Baby'
From: Margaret V
Date: 27 Feb 02 - 10:05 PM

Gillian Welch added some lyrics to the field recording. I don't know which are hers and which are original, but for me there's a disjunction between the first three verses ("lullaby" baby) and the last three verses ("sexual" baby). Hopefully someone out there in Mudcat land has the Lomax recording and can enlighten us. Margaret


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Subject: RE: 'Didn't leave Nobody But The Baby'
From: Whitedog
Date: 28 Feb 02 - 11:24 AM

I had thought the same about the "baby". There seems to be a real little "baby" in the first verses, but the latter seems to be an entirely different kind of BABE! I was just curious about the first KNOWN versions/recordings and author of this song, if it is possible to pin down. Know how each artist takes liberties with songs and often the real source is never known. I'm wondering now, since this CD is back in spotlight, if there will be some more interest in some of the old songs? I hope so! judy


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Subject: RE: 'Didn't leave Nobody But The Baby'
From: GUEST,editor@sasquatch.com
Date: 27 Dec 02 - 01:33 PM

Seeking lyrics to "Didn't Leave Nobody But The Baby"
I am a folk musician here in California and yesterday I performed a concert at the county jail in Santa Rosa (women's unit). Before the gig, I was worried about how these young women would relate to my "traditional" folk music. However, they had just seen the movie "Oh Brother" and were really excited about our music. They have been singing songs from the movie and were really anxious to get the lyrics to "Didn't..."
Please send to
editor@sasquatch.com
Thanks so much.
Jessica Bryan
(831) 335-7696


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Subject: RE: 'Didn't leave Nobody But The Baby'
From: Sorcha
Date: 27 Dec 02 - 02:16 PM

e mail sent.


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Subject: RE: Didn't Leave Nobody But the Baby
From: GUEST,Amanda
Date: 15 Apr 12 - 09:57 PM

Honestly I always thought it was since the mother had left or died the girl of the house has to take her place, in all aspects including the bedroom. Hence the "don't weep", "you, and me and the Devil make three", "She's long gone with her red shoes on gonna need another lovin' baby", and "Come and lay your bones on the alabaster stones And be my ever loving baby" since the father knows it's wrong but does it anyway. Though everyone always says I'm a bit cynical but that's how I see it. No matter what I find it to be a disturbing song yet sung so lovely.


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Subject: RE: Didn't Leave Nobody But the Baby
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 16 Apr 12 - 12:24 PM

The singer is almost certainly the kid's grandmother (or similar). Taking care of the little ones was the job of people who were too old to do other, harder, work.

Today instead of disappearing with red shoes on, the mommas and daddies disappear into Drugland, still leaving the babies with the old people.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.


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Subject: RE: Didn't Leave Nobody But the Baby
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 16 Apr 12 - 02:10 PM

See thread 45584, (......Carter)linked above.
The "Nobody but the baby" line is absent in the versions collected by Scarborough. It is said to appear in the version collected by Mrs. Sidney Carter, and it was picked up by Gillian Welch, who made up her own variant.
One of those oddities which probably has no significance. The version by Gillian Welch may be based on trad, but is not trad in itself.


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Subject: RE: Didn't Leave Nobody But the Baby
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Feb 16 - 07:11 AM

So, in my interpretation, this whole song is a siren song/murder ballad, sung from the point of view of the murderess siren. The phrase "baby" is used as a term of affection, and not representative of a literal baby.

As the song goes, the murderess is singing to the man who's wife she had killed in some way. This is a song sung after they've fucked it out. She killed the wife because she wants the man....get that bitch out the picture. This thirsty, conniving hoe is close friends with this couple (of whom she just disposed of the wife), so there's a sense of trust and friendship there.

"Mama's gone away and your daddy gonna stay, didn't leave nobody but the baby...." Mama being used as a phrasing for one's "old lady", and in this instance the widower is struck with grief and has left him crying like a "baby".....

"Everybody's gone in the cotton and the corn...." He's being comforted by this "siren" and worried about what he psychologically considers at this point might be an infidelity, and people finding out about his indiscretion, considering his wife hasn't been dead for even a few hours (I would speculate).

"Honey in the rock and the sugar don't stop, gonna bring a bottle to the baby....." Thirsty ass hoe is comforting this man in his grief and taking advantage of a situation. This is a metaphor for her being a desirable young thing, and guys are guys and always horny; the "honey in the rock" is the cum in his hard dick, and the "sugar don't stop" is her ready to spread her thighs when he wants it. "....bring a bottle to the baby" is a psychological phrasing for nursing and tending to his sexual needs.

"Don't you weep pretty baby.......she's long gone with her red shoes on, gonna need another loving' baby...." This is pretty face value. They fucked it out, and he's distraught cuz the wife is dead, and this bitch is like, "It's all good, I gotchu.....and you're gonna need another woman to satisfy you, so let me do this...."

"Go to sleep little baby.....you and me and the devil makes three...." Her trying to ease his mind and make him sleep after everything that's gone down, and in the back of her mind she's like, "We going to hell for this one...."

"Come lay your bones on the alabaster stones and be my ever loving' baby...." When all is said and done, this heartless siren has no regrets about anything she's done to capture this man, and she will lead him to ultimate ruin and his complete undoing, until his death.....

This is a Siren Song if ever there was one, and so glad it was used and popularized so amazingly by the Coen Brothers in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"

I would love to hear opinions about my interpretation.


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Subject: RE: Didn't Leave Nobody But the Baby
From: GUEST,The Baby
Date: 02 Mar 16 - 04:15 PM

You nailed it.....


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Subject: RE: Didn't Leave Nobody But the Baby
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Apr 18 - 11:31 PM

I'm guessing it can and does mean all of the above, depending on who's singing it, and who the audience is. If I'm singing it as a lullaby to my kids, it's meant to be a catchy folky lullaby. If I'm in a smokey bar performing, I'm singing with a sensual undertone, aiming the music at every man in the room. I like to think that it's both a lullaby, and seduction. First you're singing the baby to sleep, once kids are out, you're letting your man know what time it is. I love folk music. Like Ella Fitzgerald singing "Summertime" or sublime covering it.


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Subject: RE: Didn't Leave Nobody But the Baby
From: wysiwyg
Date: 23 Apr 18 - 10:17 AM

Remember too that not only are most of us trying to grasp meaning across a cultural difference, but--most of us-- across a CLASS difference, and (now), a TIME TRAVEL

That will inevitably lead to a range of non-understanding... I think the effort to grasp it is, itself, meaningful!

~S~


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