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"Lay Down Sally" is a country blues performed in the style of J. J. Cale. Clapton also attributed other members of his band - Carl Radle of Oklahoma, George Terry, Jamie Oldaker and others - as influencing the song. Clapton explained, "It's as close as I can get, being English, but the band being a Tulsa band, they play like that naturally. You couldn't get them to do an English rock sound, no way. Their idea of a driving beat isn't being loud or anything. It's subtle."
The single was a crossover country music hit, reaching No. 26 in April 1978, Clapton's best showing on that chart. "Lay Down Sally" was a significant part of the soundtrack of the 2013 film August: Osage County, in which the song was played as the intro music and twice more later on.
Red Sovine, a country singer best known for his sentimental recitations and truck-driving songs, recorded a cover version that - save for the mid-song guitar bridge - closely resembled the Clapton original. Sovine's version reached No. 70 on the BillboardHot Country Singles chart in the summer of 1978, and was the last charting single released in his lifetime.
Melanie covered this song on her 1983 album Seventh Wave, which was released only in the United Kingdom and Germany.
Marcella Detroit, co-writer of the song, has covered the song twice, first as a B-side to her 1994 single "I'm No Angel", in which it is sung in a much slower tempo than the original, and secondly on her 2006 album The Upside of Being Down, in a version more similar to the original.