Released: 8 October 1971 (UK), 9 September 1971 (US)
John Lennon: vocals, electric guitar
George Harrison: dobro
Nicky Hopkins: piano
Ted Turner: acoustic guitar
Rod Linton: acoustic guitar
John Tout: acoustic guitar
Klaus Voormann: bass guitar
Steve Brendell: upright bass
Alan White: drums
The second song on John Lennon’s Imagine album, Crippled Inside married the soul-searching themes of his earlier John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band to a rockabilly musical style.
The song acts as a bridge between the album’s stately title track and the introspective Jealous Guy. By varying the mood with an upbeat country rock number, Lennon revealed that Imagine was more musically varied than its predecessor.
Crippled Inside contained one of Lennon’s bleakest lyrics, but the delivery suggests he may have been parodying his earlier work. The song also contains a reported dig at his former bandmate Paul McCartney in the line “You can live a lie until you die”.
Crippled Inside is believed to have been inspired by Blind Blake’s 1920s recording Black Dog Blues, although there are few similarities between the two. That song was also played by The Beatles during the Let It Be sessions on 24 January 1969.
In the studio
Crippled Inside was recorded at Ascot Sound Studios, the eight-track facility Lennon had installed at his English home, Tittenhurst Park. The version on the Imagine album was take 17.
Lennon recorded a guide vocal along with the rhythm track, which helped give Crippled Inside a suitably live feel. He later described the sound as “very corny country and western”.
Key to the song’s sound were Nicky Hopkins’ jaunty piano work and George Harrison’s dobro. Klaus Voormann played a bass guitar, and the rock ‘n’ roll spirit was further enhanced by an upright bass part by Steve Brendell.
An alternative mix of take 17, with an alternative solo by Harrison, has circulated on bootleg recordings.