Sunday, September 6, 2009

“Come Back Baby”

Hey, I found a few quiet moments to play with the webcam this week, so I’m posting one of the results. This is an old tune called “Come Back Baby,” & the version I’m most familiar with is Dave Van Ronk’s; the song has also been recorded by artists ranging from Lightnin’ Hopkins to Hot Tuna & Ray Charles to Carolyn Hester. Blogger Eli Marcus tracked the song back to a 1940 recording by one Walter Davis, & conjectured this may be (Marcus’ words) “the earliest and possibly the original version of the song,” but he also conjectured that it could date from “much earlier,” which seems a very plausible guess. Guitarist Happy Traum wrote that “the song has a ring of truth to it.” I agree with that. It also has a somewhat unusual chord change (at least in the blues context)—in the key of E, the song moves about halfway thru from an A7 chord to a C7 chord, while in more typical blues it would stay on the A.

At any rate, it’s a song that really gets me inside. & while it’s not up there with the recordings of this song mentioned in the opening paragraph, hope you enjoy the following version.


  1. hey John,
    I Love This Song! Nice Picking & Singing Sir!
    'hoping You & Yours have a fine Sunday.

  2. Hi Tony:

    Thanks! & thanks for stopping off at the YouTube site, too. Likewise on the Happy Sunday!

  3. I enjoyed that so much, John. Thank you!

  4. Slowly but surely you're whittling away my prejudice against guitars. I have no idea where I got such an unreasonable thing, but there it was, full grown and irrational, by the time I was twenty five. I think it was the way you talk about them in some of your poems that started the process. As if they were living things with voices of their own to contribute to the conversation. Nice video.

  5. oh, wow! loved your rendition! wonderful of you to take the time to sit down and entertain all of us so! i've always loved the voice of the guitar - just something about it that is so "authentic" - beautiful!

    while i think of it, you might be interested in my post on sam cooke on my travel journal blog - and the associated comments - check it out should you be so inclined -

    again, thanks for making my early afternoon in delaware such a unique one!

  6. Hi Mairi & Jenean:

    Mairi: I can completely understand a prejudice against guitars--actually, Eberle has some misgivings about them herself! I do think they've come to signify some unfortunate things culturally, but glad you're coming around to them. Interesting that the poems started the process.

    Jenean: Glad you liked it--yes, I'll make a point of checking out your Sam Cooke post!

  7. Ah, so is the song of heart reaching, reaching... Our need to again embrace love that IS, though not seemingly deeply present for another - Yes, "Come Back Baby," I have lived its plea.

  8. There is a wonderful gentleness about that song. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Now, how the hell can I get a plane to the Alpine Playhouse McCall by Saturday 19th. And come to think of it, where is McCall?

  9. Hi Rose Marie & Alan

    Rose Marie: Thanks for stopping by & for your touching appreciation!

    Alan: Well, it's about an hour or so north of Boise, but that probably doesn't tell you a lot! Glad you liked the song--I also like the tenderness, & try in my own way to bring that out.


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