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Babe I'm Gonna Leave You

"Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" is a folk song written by Anne Bredon in the late 1950s. Joan Baez recorded a solo version for her 1962 album Joan Baez in Concert and a variety of musicians subsequently adapted it to a variety of styles, including Led Zeppelin. Several songwriters have been credited on releases over the years, although Bredon usually receives a sole or partial credit on current releases.

Joan Baez renditionEdit

In 1960, Anne Bredon appeared on a live folk-music show on radio station KPFA in Berkeley, California, where she performed "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You".[1] Janet Smith heard the performance and later Baez learned the song from Smith at Oberlin College.[1][2]

The 1962 album Joan Baez in Concert includes a solo performance with her vocal and acoustic guitar picking. Vanguard Records co-owner/producer Maynard Solomon commented in the album liner notes: "The strange quality [and power] of the song is that the narrator inwardly desires exactly the opposite of what he [sic] will do, and is torn by the prospect of his self-imposed departure."[2] He also describes the song as a "white blues", but does not identify the songwriter. When CD versions of Baez' album were later issued, Anne L. Bredon appears as the sole songwriter.[3]

Due to the popularity of her album,[4] Baez' rendition was adapted by the Plebs (with members of the Nashville Teens) (1964 single),[5] the Association (1965 single),[6] Mark Wynter (1965 single),[7] Quicksilver Messenger Service (1968 Revolution soundtrack),[8] and Led Zeppelin (1969 Led Zeppelin). The songwriters originally listed for these early versions include "trad. arr. Dennis", Anne H. Bredon, Janet Smith, Paul Bennett, Erik Darling, and "Traditional arr. by Jimmy Page".

Led Zeppelin versionEdit

"Babe I'm Gonna Leave You"
Cover of the 1969 US promotional EP
Song by Led Zeppelin
from the album Led Zeppelin
Released12 January 1969 (1969-01-12)
RecordedOctober 1968
StudioOlympic, London
Producer(s)Jimmy Page
Audio sample

Guitarist Jimmy Page heard Baez' version and began developing "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" early in his career as a session guitarist.[1] He played the song for singer Robert Plant during their first meeting at Page's riverside home at Pangbourne in late July 1968.[12] In his book Stairway to Heaven, Zeppelin tour manager Richard Cole claims that the arrangement evolved when Plant played Page the guitar part that eventually appeared on the album; however, this has been refuted by Page.[13] In an interview, Page commented, "I used to do the song in the days of sitting in the darkness playing my six-string behind Marianne Faithfull."[14]

Although based on the Baez version, Led Zeppelin came up with a very different approach.[1] They incorporate hard rock sections with electric guitar that are performed by the whole group, thus more than doubling the length of Baez' original.[3] When the recording appeared on their 1969 debut album, the credit read "Traditional, arr. by Jimmy Page". In the 1980s, Bredon was made aware of Led Zeppelin's version of the song; since 1990, the Led Zeppelin version has been credited to Anne Bredon, Jimmy Page, and Robert Plant. Bredon received a substantial back-payment of royalties.[12]

The band played this song at Led Zeppelin concerts on its 1969 concert tours; a filmed performance at Danmarks Radio, Gladsaxe, Denmark, on March 17, 1969, is included on the Led Zeppelin DVD (2003). For their 1998 reunion, Page and Plant performed a 9-minute version of the song. Plant has performed the song as a solo artist and with his bands Strange Sensation and the Sensational Space Shifters.

As of 2002, the 1969 promotional EP using the song as the A-side track and "Dazed and Confused" as B-side had been one of top ten Led Zeppelin music collectibles.[15] A collector Rick Barrett, dedicated to his Led Zeppelin memorabilia, sold several copies of the promo EP for US$300–500 each, "depending on the condition of the sleeve and of the record itself," said Barrett.[16]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d Popoff, Martin (2018). Led Zeppelin: All the Albums, All the Songs, Expanded Edition. Voyageur Press. p. 18. ISBN 978-0760363775.
  2. ^ a b Solomon, Maynard (1962). Joan Baez in Concert (Album notes). Joan Baez. New York City: Vanguard Records. Back cover. VRS-9112.
  3. ^ a b Shadwick, Keith (2005). Led Zeppelin: The Story of a Band and Their Music 1968–1980 (1st ed.). San Francisco: Backbeat Books. pp. 48–49. ISBN 0-87930-871-0.
  4. ^ "Joan Baez: Billboard 200". Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  5. ^ Eder, Bruce. "The Plebs – Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  6. ^ Eder, Bruce. "The Association – Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  7. ^ Adams, Greg. "Mark Wynter: Go Away Little Girl: The Pye Anthology – Review". AllMusic. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  8. ^ Chadbourne, Eugene. "Original Soundtrack: Revolution". AllMusic. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  9. ^ Barney Hoskyns (10 October 2012). Led Zeppelin: The Oral History of the World's Greatest Rock Band. John Wiley & Sons. p. 17. ISBN 978-1-118-22111-2.
  10. ^ Janovitz, Bill. "Led Zeppelin: Babe I'm Gonna Leave You – Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-05-12.
  11. ^ The original LP credited "Traditional arr. by Jimmy Page"; Plant and Bredon were later given songwriting credits.
  12. ^ a b Dave Lewis (1994), The Complete Guide to the Music of Led Zeppelin, Omnibus Press, ISBN 0-7119-3528-9
  13. ^ Brad Tolinski and Greg Di Bendetto, "Light and Shade", Guitar World, January 1998.
  14. ^ Yorke, Ritchie (1999). Led Zeppelin: From Early Days to Page and Plant. p. 72. ISBN 978-0-86369-744-9.
  15. ^ Thompson, Dave (2002). The Music Lover's Guide to Record Collecting. San Francisco: Music Player Group. p. 274. ISBN 0-87930-713-7. LCCN 2002016095.
  16. ^ Barrett, Rick (2008). "Rick Barrett: Reflects on the Collective Culture of Led Zeppelin Memorabilia". Sonic Boom: The Impact of Led Zeppelin (Interview). 1: Break and Enter. Interviewed by Frank Reddon. ISBN 978-0978444600.