Bob Dylan – Lay Lady Lay


[Verse 1]
Lay, lady, lay
Lay across my big brass bed
Lay, lady, lay
Lay across my big brass bed
Whatever colors you have in your mind
I’ll show them to you and you’ll see them shine

[Verse 2]
Lay, lady, lay
Lay across my big brass bed
Stay, lady, stay
Stay with your man awhile
Until the break of day, let me see ya’ make him smile
His clothes are dirty but his, his hands are clean
And you’re the best thing that he’s ever seen

[Verse 3]
Stay, lady, stay
Stay with your man awhile
Why wait any longer for the world to begin
You can have your cake and eat it too
Why wait any longer for the one you love
When he’s standing in front of you

[Verse 4]
Lay, lady, lay
Lay across my big brass bed
Stay, lady, stay
Stay while the night is still ahead
I long to see you in the morning light
I long to reach for you in the night
Stay, lady, stay
Stay while the night is still ahead

Image result for Bob Dylan - Lay Lady Lay

Lay Lady Lay” is a song written by Bob Dylan and originally released in 1969 on his Nashville Skyline album.[2] Like many of the tracks on the album, Dylan sings the song in a low croon, rather than in the high nasal singing style associated with his earlier (and eventually later) recordings.[3] The song has become a standard and has been covered by numerous bands and artists over the years, including The ByrdsRamblin’ Jack ElliottThe Everly BrothersMelanieThe Isley BrothersDuran DuranMagnetHoyt AxtonAngélique KidjoMinistryMalaria! and Lorrie Morgan.[2][4]


Bob Dylan’s version

“Lay Lady Lay” was originally written for the soundtrack of the movie Midnight Cowboy, but wasn’t submitted in time to be included in the finished film.[5][6] Dylan’s recording was released as a single in July 1969 and quickly became one of his top U.S. hits, peaking at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100.[7] The single did even better in the United Kingdom where it reached #5 on the UK Singles Chart.[8] Like many of the tracks on Nashville Skyline, the song is sung by Dylan in a warm, relatively low sounding voice, rather than the more abrasive nasal singing style with which he had become famous.[3]Dylan attributed his “new” voice to having quit smoking before recording the album, but some unreleased bootlegrecordings from the early 1960s reveal that, in fact, Dylan had used a similar singing style before.[2]

Don Everly of the Everly Brothers recounted in a 1986 Rolling Stone interview that Dylan performed parts of the song for them after a late 1960s appearance by the duo in New York, as they were “looking for songs, and he was writing “Lay Lady Lay” at the time.”[9] Despite a popular story that the Everly Brothers rejected the song due to misunderstanding the lyrics as sexual in nature, Everly continued “He sang parts of it, and we weren’t quite sure whether he was offering it to us or not. It was one of those awestruck moments.”[9] In a 1994 interview Don Everly further explained the encounter, stating that “It really wasn’t a business meeting … It wasn’t that kind of atmosphere.”[10] The Everly Brothers later covered the song on their EB 84 album, 15 years after Dylan’s release.

According to country musician Johnny Cash, Dylan played the song first in a circle of singer-songwriters at Cash’s house outside of Nashville. Cash claimed that several other musicians also played their own new, unheard songs: Shel Silverstein played “A Boy Named Sue“, Joni Mitchell played “Both Sides, Now“, Graham Nashplayed “Marrakesh Express” and Kris Kristofferson played “Me and Bobby McGee“.[citation needed]

Drummer Kenny Buttrey has said that he had a difficult time coming up with a drum part for the song. Dylan had suggested bongos, while producer Bob Johnson said cowbells. In order to “show them how bad their ideas were”, Buttrey used both instruments together. Kristofferson, who was working as a janitor in the studio at the time, was enlisted to hold the bongos in one hand and the cowbell in the other. Buttrey moved the sole overhead drum mic over to these new instruments. When he switches back to the drums for the choruses the drumset sounds distant due to not being directly mic’d. The take heard on the album is the first take and is one of Buttrey’s own favorite performances.[11]

“I used to listen to that one record, ‘Lay Lady Lay’, in my brother’s bedroom in the basement of our house,” recalled Madonna. “I’d lie on the bed and play that song and cry all the time. I was going through adolescence; I had hormones raging through my body. Don’t ask me why I was crying – it’s not a sad song. But that’s the only record of his that I really listened to.”[12]

Music and lyrics

Written in the key of A major, or A Mixolydian,[15] the song’s chord progression features a descending chromatic line and Dylan’s voice occupies a range from F#2 to D4.[16] The bass is most often based on the chromatic descent or otherwise emphasizing the modal center of A. The chief hook in “Lay Lady Lay”, a song with far more hooks than is typical for Dylan, is a recurring four-note pedal steel guitar riff.[2] The song’s distinctive drum part is performed by Kenny Buttrey, who regarded his contribution to the song as one of his best performances on a record.[17] Lyrically the song speaks of romantic and sexual anticipation as the singer beseeches his lover to spend the night with him.[2]

Live performances and other releases

Dylan played the song live for the first time at the Isle of Wight on August 31, 1969; a recording is included on Isle of Wight Live, part of the 4-CD deluxe edition of The Bootleg Series Vol. 10: Another Self Portrait (1969–1971). Performances of the song from 1974 and 1976 are included on the Before the Flood and Hard Rain live albums. The song has frequently been performed by Dylan since the late 1980s during his Never Ending Tour.

“Lay Lady Lay” also appears on Dylan’s quintuple-platinum Greatest Hits, Volume II album, as well as on the MasterpiecesBiographThe Best of Bob Dylan, Vol. 1, and The Essential Bob Dylan compilation albums.[2][18]

Chart history

Weekly charts

Chart (1969)Peak
Canada RPM Top Singles[19]8
Canada RPM Adult Contemporary[20]8
Ireland (IRMA)[21]13
New Zealand (Listener)7
US Billboard Hot 100[22]7
US Billboard Adult Contemporary[23]19
US Cash Box Top 100[24]8



The Byrds’ version


The Byrds‘ recording of “Lay Lady Lay” was released as a single on May 2, 1969 and reached #132 on the Billboard chart but failed to break into the UK Singles Chart.[28][29] The song was recorded as a non-album single shortly after the release of The Byrds’ seventh studio album, Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde.[30] The Byrds decided to cover the song after Bob Dylan played the band his newly recorded Nashville Skyline album at band leader Roger McGuinn‘s house.[31] The Byrds recorded “Lay Lady Lay” on March 27, 1969 but producer Bob Johnston overdubbed a female choir on to the recording on April 18, 1969 without The Byrds’ consent.[32] The single was then released and it was only after it had been issued that the band became aware of the addition of the female choir.[31][32] The group were incensed, feeling that the choral overdub was incongruous and an embarrassment.[33] The Byrds were so upset at Johnston’s tampering with the song behind their backs, that they never again worked with him.[31]

Despite the band’s displeasure with the finished single, many critics felt that the presence of the female choir added a dramatic touch which heightened the song’s emotional appeal.[31] Journalist Derek Johnson, writing in the NME, commented “The harmonic support behind the solo vocal is really outstanding, largely because The Byrds have been augmented by a girl chorus. This, plus the familiar acoustic guitars, the attractive melody and the obstructive beat, makes it one of the group’s best discs in ages.”[31] When “Lay Lady Lay” was released on The Byrds box set in 1990, it was presented without its choral overdub at McGuinn’s insistence.[33][34] This alternate version, without the female choir, was included as a bonus track on the remastered Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde CD in 1997.[33] It was also included on the 2002 reissue of The Byrds Play Dylan and the 2006 box set, There Is a Season.[35][36]

Duran Duran’s version

Duran Duran recorded a pop rock version of the song, appearing as track five on their 1995 covers album, Thank You.[37]The band released the song as a single in Italy to promote the album.[38] Nick Rhodes has stated on the band’s official website (answering an Ask Katy question in 2008 about the second single taken from Thank You) “I seem to remember my concern at that time was, in fact, our record label’s – Capitol in America and EMI for the rest of the world – deciding to split their decision on their choice for the first single, “White Lines” in the US and “Perfect Day” for the rest of the world. Hence, there was no worldwide focus and both territories forced to use the other track as their second single, so it didn’t really work out to be an ideal situation for anyone. I’m not sure what I would’ve chosen for a second single, possibly “Lay Lady Lay”, but then I am still very happy with the way “Perfect Day” turned out.”[39]

Ministry version

The American band Ministry released a version of the song as a single and as part of their 1996 album, Filth Pig.[40][41]The song also appears on the band’s 2008 covers album, Cover Up.[42] The single release included two versions of “Lay Lady Lay”; one being the standard album version and the other being a shorter edited version.[40] The single also included the song “Paisley”, which appeared on the Escape from L.A. soundtrack album, and a live recording of “Scarecrow”, which had originally appeared in a studio version on the band’s Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs album, and taken from the Lollapalooza 1992 in Palo Alto, California.[40][43][44][45]

According to Rolling Stone critic Jon Wiederhorn, the cover “amalgamates a deep distorted bass line, clicking electronic percussion, jangling acoustic guitars, ominous curls of feedback and [Al] Jourgensen‘s trademark howls.”[46]

Ministry - Lay Lady Lay single artwork.jpeg

CD single track listing

1.“Lay Lady Lay” (edit)5:11
2.“Lay Lady Lay” (album version)5:44
4.“Scarecrow” (live)8:18

Other covers

Many other cover versions of the song have been recorded by numerous performers, including:[4]


  1. Jump up^ Fontenot, Robert. “What is Country Rock?” Retrieved March 12, 2017.

  2. Jump up to:a b c d e f “Bob Dylan – Lay Lady Lay review and album appearances”

    Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-09-20.

  3. Jump up to:a b “Nashville Skyline review”

    Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-01-24.

  4. Jump up to:a b “Albums Containing “Lay Lady Lay””

    AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-04-13.

  5. Jump up^ Heylin, Clinton. (1991). Dylan: Behind The Shades – The Biography. Viking Books. p. 193. ISBN 0-670-83602-8.
  6. Jump up^ Trager, Oliver. (2004). Keys to the Rain: The Definitive Bob Dylan Encyclopedia. Billboard Books. ISBN 0-8230-7974-0.
  7. Jump up^ “Bob Dylan Billboard Singles”

    Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-01-24.

  8. Jump up^ Brown, Tony. (2000). The Complete Book of the British Charts. Omnibus Press. p. 266. ISBN 0-7119-7670-8.
  9. Jump up to:a b Loder, Kurt (May 8, 1986). “The Everly Brothers: The Rolling Stone Interview”

    Rolling Stone. United States: Rolling Stone. Retrieved 13 May2014.

  10. Jump up^ Freeman, Paul (1994). “DON EVERLY: HEARTACHES AND HARMONIES”

    Pop Culture Classics. Paul Freeman and Pop Culture Classics. Retrieved 13 May2014.

  11. Jump up^ Heylin, Clinton (1995). The Recording Sessions 1960-1994. St. Martin’s Press. pp. 74, 75. ISBN 0312134398.
  12. Jump up^ Du Noyer, Paul (December 1994). “Music, Maestress, Please!”. Q: 117.
  13. Jump up to:a b Capuzzo, Guy. (2004). Music Theory Spectrum, Vol. 26, No. 2University of California Press. p. 188.
  14. Jump up^ Toft (2010), p.60.
  15. Jump up^ Toft, Robert (2010). Hits and Misses, p.58. Bloomsbury. ISBN 9781441116857
  16. Jump up^ “Bob Dylan” Retrieved 2016-10-02.

  17. Jump up^ “Musicians at heart of this mission”

    The Tennessean. Retrieved 2010-02-06.

  18. Jump up^ “Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits, Volume II RIAA Awards”

    Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2010-01-24.

  19. Jump up^ “Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada” 1969-09-20. Retrieved 2018-01-04.

  20. Jump up^ “Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada” 1969-11-10. Retrieved 2018-01-04.

  21. Jump up^ The Irish Charts – Search Results – Lay Lady Lay”

    Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved January 14, 2018.

  22. Jump up^ Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 – ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  23. Jump up^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 77.
  24. Jump up^ Cash Box Top 100 Singles, September 20, 1969
  25. Jump up^
  26. Jump up^
  27. Jump up^ Cash Box Year-End Charts: Top 100 Pop Singles, December 27, 1969
  28. Jump up^ Rogan, Johnny. (1998). The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited (2nd ed.). Rogan House. p. 544. ISBN 0-9529540-1-X.
  29. Jump up^ “The Byrds chart data”

    . Ultimate Music Database. Retrieved 2009-08-28.

  30. Jump up^ Rogan, Johnny. (1998). The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited (2nd ed.). Rogan House. p. 627. ISBN 0-9529540-1-X.
  31. Jump up to:a b c d e Rogan, Johnny. (1998). The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited (2nd ed.). Rogan House. p. 289. ISBN 0-9529540-1-X.
  32. Jump up to:a b Hjort, Christopher. (2008). So You Want To Be A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star: The Byrds Day-By-Day (1965-1973). Jawbone Press. pp. 208–209. ISBN 1-906002-15-0.
  33. Jump up to:a b c “Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde”

    . ByrdWatcher: A Field Guide to the Byrds of Los Angeles. Archived from the original

     on 2010-10-28. Retrieved 2009-09-20.

  34. Jump up^ Rogan, Johnny. (1998). The Byrds: Timeless Flight Revisited (2nd ed.). Rogan House. p. 471. ISBN 0-9529540-1-X.
  35. Jump up^ “The Byrds Play Dylan review”

    Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-01-24.

  36. Jump up^ “There Is A Season review”

    Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-01-24.

  37. Jump up^ “Thank You review”

    Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-01-24.

  38. Jump up^ “Duran Duran – Lay Lady Lay CD Single”

    Discogs. Retrieved 2010-01-24.

  39. Jump up^ “Thank You’s Second Single”

    . Retrieved 2009-09-20.

  40. Jump up to:a b c “Lay Lady Lay: Ministry version”

    Discogs. Retrieved 2009-12-29.

  41. Jump up^ “Filfth Pig review”

    Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-12-29.

  42. Jump up^ “Cover Up review”

    Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-12-29.

  43. Jump up^ “Escape from L.A. Soundtrack review”

    Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-12-29.

  44. Jump up^ “Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs review”

    Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-12-29.

  45. Jump up^ “Ministry – Lay Lady Lay”

    Discogs (in Spanish). Retrieved 2017-12-02.

  46. Jump up^ Wiederhorn, Jon (February 2, 1998). “Ministry: Filth Pig : Music Reviews”

    Rolling Stone. Archived from the original

     on January 13, 2009. Retrieved September 30, 2014.




(Visited 50 times, 1 visits today)

You might be interested in


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *