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Album: Nashville SkylineReleased: 1969Charted:
Dylan wrote this for the 1969 movie Midnight Cowboy
. Harry Nilsson's "Everybody's Talkin'
," which was released the year before, was chosen for the theme song instead.
Harry Nilsson wrote "I Guess the Lord Must Be In New York City" for the same movie. The director had asked for a song that sounded like Nilsson's previous recorded cover of Fred Neil's "Everybody's Talking." The director finally decided to use the older "Everybody's Talking," and was proven right when the song won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Vocal Performance, Male.
This was one of many Dylan songs covered by The Byrds, who also recorded "Mr. Tambourine Man," "Just Like A Woman," and "The Times They Are A-Changin'." There are two versions of the song on their 2002 Dylan cover compilation, The Byrds Play Dylan.
They Byrds version bubbled under at #132 US in 1969; other charting renditions of the song in America were by Ferrante & Teicher (#99, 1970) and the Isley Brothers (#71, 1972).
Many radio stations refused to play this simply because of the use of the word "lay" in the title, assuming it referred to sex (i.e. "get laid"). Despite the accusation of being "Sexually Titled," Dylan denied any sexual terminology.
Cassandra Wilson covered this for her album Glamoured
. In 2001, shortly after the release of his Love and Theft
album, Bob Dylan himself went on record as saying "I love everything she does," and said she was the only good thing on the radio (which, he mentioned, "makes hideous sounds").
Dylan's vocals were slightly sped up, producing a higher vocal.
Grammatically, the correct title for this song would be "Lie Lady Lie," but that wouldn't sing very well. English teachers will tell you that Dylan's title is a command to place the lady on the bed, but Dylan isn't in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his strict adherence to the rules of grammar. Neither is Eric Clapton, who did something similar with "Lay Down Sally