“Baby, Let Me Follow You Down” is the third-highest ranked song from Bob Dylan’s eponymous debut. Of all the 11 folk standards recorded on the album, this song may be the most indicative of Dylan’s later self-penned songs. For one, the song is much more relaxed than a lot of the other tracks on this album. He doesn’t rush through any parts with his guitar, or strain his voice to make it sound unnatural, or force anything into the melody. Instead, the song features a subdued confidence, something that would become a trademark of Dylan’s later folk recordings.
The song also features evidence of Dylan’s strengths as a songwriter. Of course, Dylan didn’t write “Baby, Let Me Follow You Down”: As he announces at the opening of the song, Eric Von Schmidt, another popular staple of the East Coast folk music scene, had made it a key part of his act. The song actually goes even further back than Von Schmidt, though, dating at least as far as 1936 when it was recorded by Walter Coleman and called, “Mama Let Me Lay On You”—as usual with folk songs, tracing the origins of this one is like trying to map your family’s genealogy. On the album, Dylan would credit Von Schmidt with the writing of this particular incarnation of the song. So while the song wasn’t written by Dylan, it had a clear impact on his later writing, particularly the lyrics. Continue reading »