Lay Lady Lay: the sampler sessions

By Aaron Galbraith and Tony Attwood

Here’s the first in a potential series of articles looking at songs that use samples of Dylan tracks…first of all with a look at the use of Lay Lady Lay

If you were to guess the most sampled Dylan track what would you pick? Subterranean Homesick Blues? Rainy Day Woman? Like A Rolling Stone?

Quite possibly any of those, and it is not very likely, unless you’ve already studied the genre, that you would pick “Lay Lady Lay”.  Yet that is one of the most used Dylan songs in this form of music.

Now we must admit that neither of us is a big hip hop fan by any means, but over the last few days one of us (Aaron) decided to do a bit of a dive into the murky waters of the use of Bob Dylan samples in hip hop, while the other one (Tony) is trying to understand what it is all about.

So to begin: Lay Lady Lay

There are several tracks which use samples of Lay Lady Lay to provide a musical bed for the artist to rap or singer over, here are some of the best.

  1. The Alabama 3 –  The Gospel Train

What makes this work is that the chord sequence of Lay Lady Lay is so clear and well-known – you can’t mistake it for anything else.

A; C#m; Gm; Bm;

Don’t worry if that means nothing to you – the fact is that there is no other song that uses that sequence (at least that’s Tony’s view).  That sequence goes around a couple of times at the beginning of the song and tells us that this is Lay Lady Lay, and it is that sequence that these recordings use.

2. Here is  The Delinquent Habits – Good Times

Once again it is that four-chord sequence that tells us where we are.

  1. Inl – What You Say


Here it is the bass and the rhythm that lets us know this is Lay Lady Lay.  A different approach but still one that firmly announces the origins of the piece.

  1. People Under The Stairs – Acid Raindrops (this uses a sample of the cover by David T. Walker)

So we are moving further away from that four-chord sequence, but it is still there underneath it all.

  1. Kid Cudi – Highs ‘N’ Lows

But this time, by hearing the bass notes of the chord sequence we know exactly what we are getting.

  1. J PERIOD X K’HANN – Relationships Lay

A clever mix of Lay Lady Lay with perhaps the most famous Dylan film of all time.  And we also get a return to the original song.

Other artists have used smaller samples of the track at moments in their songs, including Tony! Toni! Tone! (Lay Your Head On My Pillow) and a band I love, Big Audio Dynamite (Green Grass).  It’s a very popular choice – and all because of that unique chord sequence.

We’re hoping to take this review further in the near future.

What else is on the site

You’ll find some notes about our latest posts arranged by themes and subjects on the home page.  You can also see details of our main sections on this site at the top of this page under the picture.

The index to all the 595 Dylan compositions and co-compositions that we have found on the A to Z page.

We also have a very lively discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook with over 2000 active members.  (Try imagining a place where it is always safe and warm).  Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link 

If you are interested in Dylan’s work from a particular year or era, your best place to start is Bob Dylan year by year.

On the other hand if you would like to write for this website, please do drop me a line with details of your idea, or if you prefer, a whole article.  Email

And please do note   The Bob Dylan Project, which lists every Dylan song in alphabetical order, and has links to licensed recordings and performances by Dylan and by other artists, links back to our reviews




One comment

  1. I really enjoyed this article and the accompanying videos so much!
    I really appreciate all the research involved here and the filtering thereof! I look forward to you extending this review!

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