Led Zeppelin - Babe I'm Gonna Leave You - About the song
This classic folk song is about a man warning his girlfriend that he is ready to "Ramble On" and abandon her.
The song was composed in 1959 by an American vocalist named Anne Bredon and recorded by Joan Baez for her live album In Concert in 1962. When Baez was performing a gig at Oberlin College, a student named Janet Smith played the song for her. When Smith and Bredon were both students at the University of California, Berkeley, Smith heard the song.
"Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" was categorized as "traditional" on Baez' CD because she didn't know who penned it. Later pressings remedied this, but Jimmy Page had a copy without the credit, so he assumed it was a traditional song and credited it as "Traditional, arranged by Jimmy Page" on the album. Remarkably, about two decades went by before the credit was corrected. Bredon and Smith didn't listen to Led Zeppelin, so it wasn't until Smith heard her son listening to the song that she noticed it and contacted Bredon. An arrangement was worked out to compensate Bredon, and the song credits were changed to list Page, Robert Plant and Bredon as composers.
Jimmy Page explained how he adapted the song for Led Zeppelin in Daniel Rachel's The Art of Noise: Conversations with Great Songwriters:
"I worked out this arrangement using a more finger-style method and then having a flamenco burst in it. Again, it's light and shade and this drama of accents; using the intensity of what would be a louder section for effect."
Babe I'm gonna leave you - Lyrics
Babe, baby, baby, I'm gonna leave you I said baby, you know I'm gonna leave you I'll leave you when the summertime Leave you when the summer comes a-rolling Leave you when the summer comes along Babe, babe, babe, babe, babe, babe, baby, baby I wanna leave you I ain't joking woman, I've got to ramble Oh, yeah, baby, baby, I believing We really got to ramble (I can hear it calling me) I can hear it calling me the way it used to do I can hear it calling me back home Babe, I'm gonna leave you Oh, baby, you know, I've really got to leave you Oh I can hear it calling me I said don't you hear it calling me the way it used to do? I know I know, I know I never, never, never, never, never gonna leave you, babe But I got to go away from this place I've got to quit you, yeah Oh, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby Oh, don't you hear it calling me? Oh, woman, woman, I know, I know It feels good to have you back again And I know that one day baby, it's gonna really grow, yes it is We gonna go walking through the park every day Come what may, every day, oh My, my, my, my, my, my babe I'm gonna leave you, go away Oh, I miss you, baby It was really, really good You made me happy every single day But now I've got to go away Oh, oh, oh Baby, baby, baby, baby That's when it's calling me I said that's when it's calling me back home
Led Zeppelin - Babe I'm Gonna Leave You - Album track