"Didn't Leave Nobody But The Baby" as written by Gillian Howard Welch, T-bone Burnett, Alan Lomax and Sidney Carter....
Go to sleep you little babe
Go to sleep you little babe
Your mama's gone away and your daddy's gonna stay
Didn't leave nobody but the baby

Go to sleep you little babe
Go to sleep you little babe
Everybody's gone in the cotton and the corn
Didn't leave nobody but the baby

You're sweet little babe
You're sweet little babe
Honey in the rock and the sugar don't stop
Gonna' bring a bottle to the baby

Don't you weep pretty babe
Don't you weep pretty babe
She's long gone with her red shoes on
Gonna' need another lovin' baby

Go to sleep you little babe
Go to sleep you little babe
You and me and the Devil makes three
Don't need no other lovin' baby

Go to sleep you little babe
Go to sleep you little babe
Come and lay your bones on the alabaster stones
And be my ever-lovin' baby


Lyrics submitted by Bobo192

"Didn't Leave Nobody But the Baby" as written by Gillian Howard Welch Alan Lomax

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Didn't Leave Nobody But The Baby song meanings
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  • +4
    My InterpretationIt is a lullaby that was sung by slaves. It has a sweet melody for the baby, and is a way for the singer (most likely an older slave that can no longer do hard labor) to express what has happend (just as if you were singing to a baby and making up the words as you go.) The words are more for the singer than the baby. The song is sung to the baby but is truly a way for the singer to express.

    go to sleep little babe
    go to sleep little babe

    your momma's gone away and your daddy's gone to stay (actual lyric is gone to stay)
    didn't leave nobody but the baby
    (the mom has left and the dad has died)

    go to sleep little babe
    go to sleep little babe

    everybody's gone in the cotton and the corn
    didn't leave nobody but the baby
    (everyone else has gone to work and the singer is left with the baby)

    you're a sweet little babe
    you're a sweet little babe

    honey in the rock and the sugar don't stop
    gonna bring a bottle to the baby
    (honey in the rock means to fill with delight from the truths of faith, the 'sugar' is the sweetness of the 'honey')

    don't you weep pretty babe
    don't you weep pretty babe

    she's long gone with her red shoes on
    gonna need another loving babe
    (this line is explaining where the mother has gone, alot of people think this means she is a harlot, but i think the red shoes are a symbol for the blood on her worn feet. she is a slave and made to work. the next line refers to the fact that she has lost her baby and woman that have lost a baby need the hole left by the loss filled)

    go to sleep little babe
    go to sleep little babe

    you and me and the devil makes three
    don't need no other lovin' babe
    (the 'devil' here is the slave owner. Its just the singer, the baby and the slave owner left. The second line is expressing her love for the baby)

    go to sleep little babe
    go to sleep little babe

    come lay bones on the alabaster stones
    and be my everlovin' baby
    (Alabaster stones are used for healing,they have to heal themselves. The singer has now taken on the role of mother, the second line refers to her inviting the baby to be hers forever)
    mysong25on June 19, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis is one of my favorite songs ever just because its so haunting and resonates within my soul. if i were to guess what it is even about(it was originally a black folk song), i would imagine that maybe it's a lullaby that a grandma would sing to a little baby who's mom just died. it's maybe in the mom's point of view saying "i'm gone, but you still have your father and one day you can lay your bones on the alabaster stone and be my everlovin baby" or perhaps a mother singing to her child that was about to be taken away from her during the slave days. either way it a beautiful song and i could think of any other 3 women that could pull this off like those 3 did.
    road to joyon January 25, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentHmmm....

    I heard this song and thought it was great. But the more I listened the deeper, darker meaning it seemed to have.

    I may be wrong, but I think it may mean that the mother died or ran off, the father has run off and is going to stay gone. The red shoes makes me think that the woman has run off to be a harlot, perhaps the baby was an illegimate birth at a time when any extra mouths were impossible to care for. So the mother ran off, the father may have been unknown or uncaring. Everyone else was in the field working, or had gone away in search of work to work distant fields.

    The verse

    Honey in the rock and the sugar don't stop
    Gonna bring a bottle to the baby

    May mean that the singer was mixing a bottle and adding honey and sugar (and lots of it) to hide the taste of poison. The remaining verses then become obvious.

    Go to sleep little baby
    Got to sleep little baby

    You and me and the devil make three
    Don't need no other lovin' babe

    come lay bones on the alabaster stones
    and be my everlovin' baby

    The singer is basically saying, drink this, go to sleep, your mamma ain't coming back, now there's only me and the devil to care for you, as if the singer knows that what she is doing is immoral but necessary. And the last verse, "and be my everlovin' baby" refers to live hereafter. As if the singer is professing everlasting love to this poor child she had put in the ground because there was no one to care for it.

    Pretty dark I know... but...

    Thoughts?

    Curtis336on December 13, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentDoes anyone know what this song is talking about? I have a few ideas, but I am not exactly sure.
    LookingThroughon July 23, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhat a beautiful song. Probably the most pristine and haunting Country melody this decade (bar Kings of Leon's Day Old Blues.)

    It's obviously about the maternal seduction of the Sirens in "O Brother Where Art Thou"
    bkat004on January 30, 2006   Link
  • 0
    My OpinionBefore i saw the movie, i had a mental picture of what was happening during this song. (this is just my personal interaptation, don't hate me!)

    I always saw an elderly black slave woman in the pre-Civil war south rocking a newborn baby (because its mother had died during child-birth) and she was singing this lullyabye to the baby. It was her way of saying that she would "adopt" the baby and take the place of the mother, and that life was going to be okay because she would watch out for the baby. (imagine my shock when i saw the movie and saw what was really going on!! :)

    Anyway you interprate it, its a beautiful song.
    xADayWellWastedxon June 18, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIt's a lullaby that slaves used to sing in early America. How can you guys not know this?
    zombiewakeupon July 25, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThese lyrics are incorrect in a way that makes the song harder to understand. It's "Daddy's gone to stay" not "Daddy's gonna stay." HUGE difference. The song is sung from the pov of someone caring for a baby whose mother (presumably a slave) has gone to work in the fields. The dad is "gone to stay" so they "didn't leave nobody but the baby."
    sourbobon September 23, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOkay,

    I put my interpretation into the lyric so the context is a little easier to understand. It's a dark interpretation, but I think it may be accurate.


    Didn't Leave Nobody But The Baby

    Go to sleep you little baby
    Go to sleep you little baby
    Your momma's gone away and your daddy's gone to stay
    Didn't leave nobody but the baby

    SLEEP CHILD
    YOUR MOTHER RAN AWAY, FATHER LEFT, NEVER COMING BACK

    Go to sleep you little baby
    Go to sleep you little baby
    Everybody's gone in the cotton and the corn
    Didn't leave nobody but the baby

    SLEEP CHILD
    EVERYONE ELSE IN THE FIELD OR TRAVELED TO DISTANT FIELDS TO WORK
    WE ARE ALL ALONE NOW WITH NO ONE ELSE TO CARE FOR YOU

    You're a sweet little baby
    You're a sweet little baby
    Honey in the rock and the sugar don't stop
    Gonna bring a bottle to the baby

    YOUR A SWEET CHILD
    MIXING A BOTTLE OF SWEET POISON

    Don't you weep pretty baby
    Don't you weep pretty baby
    She's long gone with the red shoes on
    Gonna meet another lovin baby

    DONT' CRY CHILD
    YOUR MOMMA RAN OFF TO BE A HARLOT
    POSSIBLY TO MEET A MAN, AND HAVE ANOTHER BABY

    Go to sleep you little baby
    Go to sleep you little baby
    You and me and the devil makes three
    Don't need no other lovin baby

    SLEEP CHILD
    DRINK THIS POISON AND SLEEP
    IT'S WAS JUST ME AND YOU NOW IT'S ME, AND YOU AND THE DEVIL
    I CAN'T TAKE CARE OF ANOTHER CHILD

    Go to sleep you little baby
    Go to sleep you little baby
    Come and lay your bones on the alabaster stones
    And be my ever lovin baby

    SLEEP CHILD - SLEEP FOREVER
    I WILL REVERENTLY BURY YOU AND AM DOING IT OUT OF LOVE
    SINGER BELIEVES THAT WHAT SHE IS DOING IS NECESSARY

    Curtis336on December 13, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe words "honey in the rock" are a biblical reference. I believe the reference appears in the stories about Abraham and also in Psalms. I'm not sure about "the sugar don't stop" but it might be that one of the parents was sent off to work on a sugar plantation, hence that is why they are not there. I like, however, the interpretation one person offered about the "sugar and honey" being put in the baby's bottle. I think it was common in those days to give babies "sugar bits" to keep them quiet, instead of pacifiers like modern times. The lyric could well have a double meaning.
    WLC001on March 04, 2010   Link

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