Baby What You Want Me to Do
|"Baby What You Want Me to Do"|
|Single by Jimmy Reed|
|B-side||"Caress Me, Baby"|
|Format||10" 78 rpm & 7" 45 rpm record|
|Recorded||Chicago, August 7, 1959|
|Label||Vee-Jay Records (no. 333)|
|Jimmy Reed singles chronology|
"Baby What You Want Me to Do" (sometimes called "You Got Me Running" or "You Got Me Runnin'") is a blues song that was written and recorded by Jimmy Reed in 1959. It was a record chart hit for Reed and, as with several of his songs, it has appeal across popular music genres, with numerous recordings by a variety of musical artists.
Composition and recording
"Baby What You Want Me to Do" is a mid-tempo blues shuffle in the key of E that features "Reed's unique, lazy loping style of vocals, guitar and harmonica." In a 1959 review by Billboard magazine, it was called "uninhibited and swampy ... deliver[ed] freely in classic, gutbucket fashion."  Music critic Cub Koda describes it as "deceptively simple" and as "one of the true irreducibles [sic] of the blues, a song so basic and simple it seems like it's existed forever." However, unlike a typical twelve-bar blues, it includes chord substitutions in bars nine and ten:
Jimmy Reed received the sole credit for the song, although blues historian Gerard Herzhaft points out "like almost all of Reed's pieces and whatever the official credits are, it is an original composition by his wife, Mama Reed." Mama Reed can be heard at the recording session for the song:
- Calvin Carter (Vee-Jay record producer): What's the name of this?
- Mama Reed: Uh...
- Carter: "You Got Me Doin' What You Want Me?" Oh yeah...
- Jimmy Reed: Naw...
- Mama Reed: "Baby What You Wanna Let Go."
- Carter: No, "Baby What You Want Me to Do." "Baby What You Want Me to Do."
- Mama & Jimmy Reed: "Baby Why You Wanna Let Go."
- Mama Reed: Yeah.
- Jimmy Reed: You could even make it "Why Let Go." Make it short. "Why Let Go."
Of note, nowhere in the song do the lyrics "baby what you want me to do" appear, although later cover versions would often wrongly include the phrase in place of the original "baby why you wanna let go." "Baby What You Want Me to Do" was included on Jimmy Reed's second album Found Love (1960), the Jimmy Reed at Carnegie Hall album (1961), as well as numerous compilation albums.
Charts and recognition
"Baby What You Want Me to Do" reached number 10 in the Billboard R&B chart and number 37 in the Billboard Hot 100 in 1960. In 2004, Reed's song was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in the "Classic of Blues Recordings" category.
Recordings by other artists
According to Koda, "Baby What You Want Me to Do" "was already a barroom staple of blues, country, and rock & roll bands by the early '60s" and has spawned versions by a variety of blues, R&B, and rock artists. The song continues to be performed and recorded, making it perhaps the most covered of Reed's songs. Some of these include:
- 1961 – The Everly Brothers from their album A Date with The Everly Brothers
- 1964 – Etta James as a single which reached #84 on the Billboard Hot 100
- 1964 – Billy Fury, B-side of "It's Only Make Believe"
- 1964 – Johnny Rivers from Here We à Go Go Again!
- 1967 – Little Richard as "Anyway You Want Me" in the medley with "You Don't Have to Go" from Little Richard's Greatest Hits: Recorded Live!
- 1967 – Bill Cosby from Silver Throat: Bill Cosby Sings
- 1968 - Elvis Presley from Elvis 1968 Comeback Special
- 1969 – Lonnie Mack from Whatever's Right
- 1969 - Brainbox from Brainbox 
- 1970 - The Youngbloods as "Peepin' 'N' Hidin'" from Rock Festival
- 1971 - The Byrds from Live at Royal Albert Hall 1971 (released 2008)
- 1972 - Johnny Maestro & The Brooklyn Bridge from The Bridge in Blue
- 1973 - Jerry Lee Lewis from The Session
- 1973 – Wishbone Ash from Live Dates
- 1975 – John Cale from Helen of Troy
- 1975 – Hot Tuna from Yellow Fever
- 1996 – Neil Young and Crazy Horse from Broken Arrow
- Romano, Will (2006). Big Boss Man: The Life and Music of Bluesman Jimmy Reed. Backbeat Books. p. 113. ISBN 978-0-87930-878-0.
- "Classics of Blues Recording – Singles or Album Tracks". Blues Hall of Fame Inductees Winners. The Blues Foundation. 2004. Retrieved July 2, 2014.
- "Jimmy Reed – song review". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media, Inc): 43. November 16, 1959. ISSN 0006-2510.
- Koda, Cub. "Baby What You Want Me to Do – Song Review". AllMusic. Rovi Corp. Retrieved July 2, 2014.
- Herzhaft, Gerard (1992). "Baby What You want Me to Do". Encyclopedia of the Blues. University of Arkansas Press. p. 437. ISBN 1-55728-252-8.
- Whitburn, Joel (1988). Top R&B Singles 1942–1988. Record Research, Inc. p. 346. ISBN 0-89820-068-7.
- "Song Search Results for Baby What You Want Me to Do". AllMusic. Rovi Corp. Retrieved July 2, 2014.
- Jerry Lee Lewis, The Session Retrieved April 7, 2012.