San Francisco Bay Blues

Written by Jesse Fuller

Album This song officially appears on the Unplugged (The Official Bootleg) Official live.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1991

Related sessions

This song has been recorded during the following studio sessions

Related interviews

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Song facts

San Francisco Bay Blues” is an American folk song, written in 1954, and recorded by Paul McCartney for inclusion on his 1991 Unplugged album. Since then, “San Francisco Bay Blues” is a song he regularly performs during soundchecks.

A good decade before Scott McKenzie famously warbled the attractions of the Bay Area, folk singer/guitarist Ramblin’ Jack Elliott was performing this one around the clubs and the studios. Composer Jesse Fuller recorded his own version in 1960, since when it has entered the canon of many a trouper, from Tom Rush to Richie Havens, Peter, Paul and Mary…and now – assisted by a fine slide guitar contribution from Robbie McIntosh – Paul McCartney.

From Unplugged liner notes

From Wikipedia:

San Francisco Bay Blues” is an American folk song and is generally considered to be the most famous composition by Jesse Fuller. Fuller first recorded the song in 1954 (released 1955) for a small label called World Song. The song was brought into wider popularity in the early 1960s by club performances by Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Bob Dylan, and Jim Kweskin. Recorded covers have been performed by many artists including The Blues Band, Paul Jones, Jim Croce, The Weavers, Sammy Walker, The Brothers Four, Paul Clayton, Richie Havens, Eric Clapton, The Flatlanders, Paul McCartney, Hot Tuna, Janis Joplin, John Lennon, Peter, Paul, and Mary, Mungo Jerry, Glenn Yarbrough, George Ellias, Phoebe Snow, The Wave Pictures, The Halifax III and Eva Cassidy. […]

This one was by Ramblin’ Jack Elliott – I had the record somewhere – and I think George Harrison used to do it. I nearly did ‘Bearcat Mama’, too, with those old-fashioned chord changes. ‘Your Feet’s Too Big’ by Fats Waller was in the same vein: it was just a bit of laugh. If a gig got a bit serious you could do ‘Your Feet’s Too Big’. The kids at the Cavern used to like it, it was a popular request with the girls.

So if I’ve got an acoustic guitar in my hand, I tend to play certain types of songs. It all comes from playing to my own kids, although there’s a slightly different set of songs that I have for them. They used to ask me to play guitar when they were going to bed and I’d just sit there for five or ten minutes, to send them to sleep, playing things like ‘Cut Across Shorty’, the Eddie Cochran song, which I nearly did for Unplugged. I have a little batch of songs like that, for kids or for when I’m on my own or at a party, and they tend not to be songs I’ve written but from my teenage years, when I used to sit at home and practice. I used to learn ‘Pink Champagne’ so that if anyone asked if I could play a solo, I’d say, ‘Well, do you know “Pink Champagne”?’ They’re little relics from my teenage years, really.

Paul McCartney, from Club Sandwich 58, Summer 1991

Paul also performed “San Francisco Bay Blues” live a few times, for instance in 2013, at San Francisco’s Outside Lands Festival, and in 2014, at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park – in both occasions, he dedicated the song to Shelley Lazar, “The Ticket Queen”. Shelley was a pioneer of premium ticketing and VIP programs for artists like McCartney, and was known from the regular soundcheckers. From

At SLO, Shelley also honed the art of the VIP package, which can include dinners and boat rides and other lagniappes. One package she helped create that remains a high-bar in the VIP market included Paul McCartney’s soundcheck.

“She made it an incredibly valuable event,” says Marshall Arts’ Jenny Marshall who, along with her colleague Rachel Thomas, became very close with Lazar. “Everybody was taken care of from the minute they arrived to soundcheck until the minute they left. She would be leading the applause, dancing and singing.”

Lazar became such a part of Macca’s team that McCartney began to dedicate Jesse Fuller’s classic “San Francisco Bay Blues” to her at every show. And when Lazar couldn’t make shows, Team Macca would make Shelley masks for the band to wear onstage.

From Twitter – Fond fun memories of our lovely MF Ticket Queen, Shelley x #MFTQ #ShelleyLazar #ripFrom Twitter –

Last updated on July 7, 2019


Well when I'm walking with my baby
Down by the San Francisco bay
The ocean liner is going so far away
I didn't mean to treat her so bad
She was the best pal I ever had
She made me cry, she made me sigh
I wanna lay down and die.

Well, I ain't got a dollar, I don't give a lousy dime
And if she never comes back, you know I'm gonna lose my mind
But if she ever come back to stay it's gonna be a brand new day
When I'm walking with my baby
Down by the San Francisco bay.

Oh yeah, I don't give a lousy dime
Gonna lose my mind
But if she ever...
Yes, it's gonna be a...

Well, when I'm walking with my baby
Down by the San Francisco bay
You know the ocean liner is going so far away
Well, I didn't mean to treat her so bad
She was the best pal I ever had
She made me cry, she made me sigh
She made me wanna lay down and die.

Well, I ain't got a dollar, I don't give a lousy dime
Yeah, but if you never come back
You know, I'm gonna lose my mind
Well if you ever come back to stay
It's gonna be a brand new day.

When I'm walking with my baby
Down by the San Francisco
I'm walking with my baby
Down by the San Francisco bay
I'm walking with my baby
Down by the San Francisco bay.

Officially appears on

Unplugged (The Official Bootleg)

Official live • Released in 1991

3:29 • LiveL1

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Producer, Vocals
Linda McCartney :
Robbie McIntosh :
Acoustic guitar
Hamish Stuart :
Acoustic bass, Vocal harmonies
Paul Wickens :
Blair Cunningham :
Geoff Emerick :
Mixing engineer, Recording engineer
Eddie Klein :
Assistant engineer
Gary Stewart :
Assistant engineer
Peter Craigie :
Assistant engineer
Gary Bradshaw :
Monitor engineer

Concert From "MTV Unplugged" in Wembley, United Kingdom on Jan 25, 1991


San Francisco Bay Blues

1991 • For Paul McCartney

Live performances

“San Francisco Bay Blues” has been played in 11 concerts and 146 soundchecks.

Latest concerts where San Francisco Bay Blues has been played

Paul McCartney in Casual Conversation from LIPA

Jul 25, 2018 • United Kingdom • Liverpool • Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts

Outside Lands Festival

Aug 09, 2013 • Part of Out There Tour


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