Baby Please Don’t Go’ has been recorded in many variations under many titles, but most of them can be traced back to the 1935 version by Joe Williams’ Washboard Blues Singers, or to Williams’ remakes for Bluebird (1941) and Columbia (1947). The individual verses have proved so memorable that some of them have provided the titles for other singers’ versions of the theme — ‘Another Man Done Gone’ by Vera Hall, for instance, or ‘Turn Your Lamp Down Low’ by Muddy Waters. ‘Don’t (You) Leave Me Here’ is yet another variant, one that predates ‘Baby Please Don’t Go,’ as do the related songs ‘Elder Greene’ and ‘I’m Alabama Bound.’ Williams, however, sometimes said that the song was written by his wife, singer Bessie Mae Smith (aka Blue Belle and St. Louis Bessie). The song was revived in revved-up fashion by rock bands in the ’60s such as Them, the Amboy Dukes, and Ten Years After.

Joe Lee Williams, vocal and guitar; Dad Tracy, one-string fiddle; Chasey ‘Kokomo’ Collins, washboard. Recorded October 31, 1935, Chicago. Released on Bluebird B6200 (78 rpm).

Discographical details from Blues and Gospel Records 1890-1943.

— Jim O’Neal