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Derek and the Dominos: “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out”

The Hook: They chose an old blues song they all knew, talked about it a little and were off and running.

Album: Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs

Year: 1971

Writer: Jimmy Cox

Stats: Wasn’t released as a single.

Background: The 1923 composition “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out” was recorded by the great Bessie Smith in 1929 and by Derek and the Dominos in 1970. Domino Bobby Whitlock has said it was the first song they recorded when Duane Allman joined the sessions from another gig, while their late producer Tom Dowd recalled it as typical of the dynamic between Allman, Eric Clapton and the Dominos.

The late Derek and the Dominos producer Tom Dowd on “Nobody Knows You When Youre Down and Out.” OC:…on it. :28

“When the Allmans came by, they just jammed on old blues, or songs that they knew that they could think of, or, ‘Hey, where’d you get that lick from? It sounds like this record.’ And that was the dialog going on. When Duane finished with whatever the Showtime obligations were and he came back a few days later to play, he said, ‘Hey, you played something the other day…’, or Eric would say, ‘We’re hung up on this or that,’ and all of a sudden Whitlock-Clapton-Allman or Allman-Clapton or Allman-Whitlock would go in the corner and say, ‘Hey man, this is the way out,’ you know, and boom, they’d suggest it and all of a sudden everybody’d jump on it.”