Don’t Think Twice – Dylan & Paul Clayton

by elmergantry

Speaking of Paul Clayton, I have been doing some digging into the origins of the song ‘Who’s gonna buy your Chickens’ which allegedly was the song on which he based his ‘Who’s going to buy your Ribbons’ -, a song which Bob Dylan later adapted for ‘Don’t Think Twice’. Dylan’s borrowing ultimately led to a court-case between the two men, which eventually was settled out of court.

Here is the Paul Clayton song:

From reading biographies of Dylan, one would think that Clayton had simply borrowed the music & lyrics for his song from the earlier song, which was in the public domain. This seems to me to be far from the truth. What Clayton tended to do, it appears to me, is to draw from various sources when putting together his own songs – funnily enough, in a similar manner to the way that Dylan works today.


It is also sometimes claimed that ‘Who’s going to buy your Ribbons’ is derived from the folk song, ‘Scarlet Ribbons; although, for anybody who knows both songs, this is patently untrue:

In relation to ‘Who’s gonna buy your Chickens’, the only version I can so far is this work song, which has only a very minor resemblance to Clayton’s song:

Six months in jail ain’t so long, baby,
It’s workin’ on the county farm.
Got my pick an’ shovel now, baby,
Yo’ true lub is gone.
Who’s gwine to be yo’ true lub, baby,
When I ‘m gone?
Who gwine to bring you chickens, honey,
When I’m workin’ on the county farm?

Found this version at

Have not yet found any recordings of this song, so it is hard to know if Clayton borrowed the melody.

However, as a lyric, it bears only a very slight resemblance to Clayton’s song, which runs:


It ain’t no use to sit and sigh now, darlin,
And it ain’t no use to sit and cry now,
T’ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, darlin,
Just wonder who’s gonna buy you ribbons when I’m gone.


So times on the railroad gettin’ hard, babe,
I woke up last night and saw it snow,
Remember what you said to me last summer
When you saw me walkin’ down that road.


So I’m walkin’ down that long, lonesome road,
You’re the one that made me travel on,
But still I can’t help wonderin’ on my way,
Who’s gonna buy you ribbons when I’m gone?


‘Dont Think Twice’ shares many more features with this lyric, of course, and it has always seemed strange to me that Dylan should have had a problem with sharing credit for this with someone who was , it appears, a very close friend.