Baby, Stop Crying

Album: Street-Legal (1978)
Charted: 13
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Songfacts®:

  • "Baby, Stop Crying" didn't sell well in the United States, but it was relatively big in Europe and the United Kingdom.

    At its simplest, the song is about a man desperately trying to console a crying woman. In the opening verse, the woman seems to have been seriously wronged by a "bad man," as the narrator is so enraged that he wants her to get his gun because he "can't tell right from wrong."
  • That opening "get me my gun" verse colors the rest of the song and adds a somewhat ominous tone to otherwise innocuous lyrics such as:

    Go down by the river, babe
    Honey, I will meet you there
    Go down to the river, babe
    Honey, I will pay your fare


    Other than that bit about the firearm, though, the song seems to be pretty straightforward and nothing more than its title sells - a guy is trying to get his woman to stop crying. By the end of the song, he seems to have gotten his worst emotions under control, wrapping things up with the plea, "So baby, please stop crying 'cause its tearing up my mind."

    David Weir at Bob Dylan Song Analysis makes an interesting observation that the "bad man" may also be the narrator himself, speaking in third person as people sometimes do after they've done something terrible or something while intoxicated. A "that man wasn't me" sort of thing. There's no way to be sure this is what was meant, of course, but it does add an intriguing element to the song.
  • In speaking of "Baby, Stop Crying" to Rolling Stone's Jonathan Cott in 1978, Dylan said, "The man in that song had his hand out and is not afraid of getting it bit."

    "He sounds stronger than the woman he's singing to and about," Cott responded.

    "Not necessarily," Dylan said. "The roles could be reversed at any time - don't you remember 'To Ramona'? 'And someday maybe, who knows baby, I'll come and be cryin' to you.'"

    Cott continued to press Dylan in what seemed to be a somewhat tense, contentious interview (with Dylan, is there any other kind?), asking, "How come you write in that way?" Dylan responded with an insight into how he views his music. "I wouldn't be doing it unless some power higher than myself were guiding me on. I wouldn't be here this long. Let me put it another way... What was the question?"

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