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James Taylor Songs - Sweet Baby James Lyrics

Sweet Baby James Lyrics By James Taylor Songs Album: Sweet Baby James Year: 1970 There is a young cowboy, he lives on the range His horse and his cattle a

James Taylor - Sweet Baby James
James Taylor - Sweet Baby James

James Taylor - Sweet Baby James Lyrics and Youtube Music Videos

Album: Sweet Baby James
Released: 1970

Sweet Baby James Lyrics

There is a young cowboy, he lives on the range
His horse and his cattle are his only companions
He works in the saddle and sleeps in the canyons
Waiting for summer, his pastures to change
And as the moon rises he sits by his fire
Thinking about women and glasses of beer
And closing his eyes as the doggies retire
He sings out a song which is soft but it's clear
As if maybe someone could hear

Goodnight you moonlight ladies
Rockabye Sweet Baby James
Deep greens and blues are the colors I choose
Won't you let me go down in my dreams
And rockabye sweet baby James

Now the first of December was covered with snow
So was the turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston
The Berkshires seemed dream-like on account of that frosting
With ten miles behind me and ten thousand more to go

There's a song that they sing when they take to the highway
A song that they sing when they take to the sea
A song that they sing of their home in the sky
Maybe you can believe it if it helps you to sleep
But singing works just fine for me

So goodnight you moonlight ladies
Rockabye sweet baby James
Deep greens and blues are the colors I choose
Won't you let me go down in my dreams
And rockabye sweet baby James

Publisher: Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

Sweet Baby James
  • James Taylor is not singing about himself in this song, but about the child who was named in his honor. Taylor wrote the song in 1969, when he drove on his way to Richmond, Virginia to see his older brother, the late Alex Taylor. James had recently returned to America after recording his first album in England, and he was shocked to learn that Alex had become a father for the first time in his absence.

    Alex and his wife, Brent Taylor, had given birth to their first child, a baby son, which Brent wanted to name Richmond, after the city in which he was born. However, Alex wanted to name the child James, after his younger brother. So after a few arguments, the couple named the boy James Richmond Taylor. James was elated to discover that he had a new baby nephew, also named James. So the title can be a little confusing, since both the singer and his nephew are named James. The singer is James Vernon Taylor, while his nephew is James Richmond Taylor.
  • This song is a soft lullaby that tells the story of a young cowboy who spends his lonely nights in the canyons, with nothing to keep him company but his horse and his cattle - he occupies his long and lonely hours of darkness singing himself to sleep.

    There are some ways this song associates with its writer. As a young child, James Taylor, along with his siblings, often sang each other to sleep at night. The story goes that James couldn't stand it when his mother sang, because she only sang opera. And because James' mother was a lyric soprano, she never sang lullabies. James' father never sang lullabies either, because he didn't exactly have the knack for music.

    So when he was a little boy, the young James Taylor was often put in the position of having to sing himself to sleep each night, hence the line, "Singin' works just fine for me."
  • Some translations of the lyrics:

    "Dogies" (Pronounced Doe-gies), is a Western Cowboy Slang term for "Cattle." "As the dogies retire" translates to: "As the cattle settle down for the night."

    "Good night, you Moonlight Ladies" - This line is often misinterpreted, as many listeners are fooled into believing that the moonlight Ladies are prostitutes. The "Moonlight Ladies" are actually the spirits of the moon, which come out of the sky and shine their lights as the evening darkness falls.

    "Rockabye, Sweet Baby James" - This line is loosely based on the nursery rhyme, "Rockabye Baby." James wanted to make this song sound smooth and calm for his baby nephew, so instead of singing the familiar lullaby "Rockabye Baby," he softly sang, "Rockabye, Sweet Baby James."
  • Speaking with Rolling Stone in 2015, Taylor said this was his best song. "It starts as a lullaby, then the second half of the song - 'the turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston' - talks about what music means to me. It gets pretty spiritual by the end."
  • This was Taylor's first single released on Warner Bros. Records. He started with Apple Records, the label owned by The Beatles, but the dream became a nightmare when after releasing his debut album in 1968, Apple fell into disarray and Taylor was dropped.

    With Warners, he got better promotion and gradually made a name for himself, becoming a top artist of the '70s. The "Sweet Baby James" single never charted but remains one of his most enduring songs. It was his next single, "Fire and Rain" that was his commercial breakthrough.
  • The Dixie Chicks did a cover of this song with Taylor at a benefit concert in September of 2005, to honor the many victims of Hurricane Katrina who lost their homes in New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • Like Joe Cocker's version of "With A Little Help From My Friends" and Billy Joel's "Piano Man," this is written in waltz time (3/4).

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