In the summer of 1968, the producers of the movie Midnight Cowboy
reached out to Dylan to see if he had a song they could use for the film's soundtrack. Dylan had been playing around with "Lay Lady Lay," a gentle love song, and thought it would make a good submission, but he didn't get it done on time. Producer John Schlesinger settled on Harry Nilsson's "Everybody's Talkin'
" before he got to hear Dylan's song.
Clinton Heylin observes in Revolution In The Air
that the song doesn't make sense for the movie, and it's possible Dylan didn't read the script as he developed the song. Midnight Cowboy
, released in 1969, is not a romantic or sentimental film. Starring Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight, the gritty story is about two street hustlers who live in a condemned building and spend their days looking for ways to survive. Character Joe Buck (played by Voight) becomes a gigolo to make his money, and there is a subsequent scene with him in bed with a New York socialite, but it's hardly the kind of romantic situation "Lay Lady Lay" is suited for. The song ended up on Dylan's 1969 album Nashville Skyline