Leave My Kitten Alone

Anthology 1 album artworkWritten by: John-Turner-McDougal
Recorded: 14 August 1964
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith

Released: 21 November 1995

John Lennon: vocals
Paul McCartney: bass, piano
George Harrison: lead guitar
Ringo Starr: drums, tambourine

Available on:
Anthology 1

One of The Beatles’ finest ‘lost’ songs, Leave My Kitten Alone was recorded during the second session for the Beatles For Sale album, but remained unreleased until Anthology 1 in 1995.

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Leave My Kitten Alone was the group’s first complete, full-band song to be discarded since How Do You Do It in September 1962. The Beatles most likely based their version on Johnny Preston’s 1961 single, although it it had originally been recorded by Little Willie John in 1959.

The song had been a part of The Beatles’ live repertoire during their Hamburg period, although by August 1964 they hadn’t performed it for two years.

That was a Johnny Preston song that we’d rehearsed in Liverpool along with all our Cavern stuff and it was just in our repertoire. It wasn’t a big one that we used to do, we’d pull it out of the hat occasionally, and we also recorded it.
Paul McCartney
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

Had the song been released on Beatles For Sale, it would surely have been one of the highlights. Why it was rejected is unclear, although it has been suggested that it was dropped in favour of Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby, in order to give George Harrison a lead vocal.

Nonetheless, as Mark Lewisohn pointed out in The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, “hindsight shows that perhaps it might have made a better LP track than, say, Mr Moonlight, most people’s least favourite song on what was to become the Beatles For Sale LP”.

In the studio

The group recorded five takes of Leave My Kitten Alone on 14 August 1964. The first was complete, though lacked the vocal forcefulness it needed. Take two broke down, with Lennon saying, “I wish I could do it without playing”.

He did just that, recording a second complete take – with a “searing” lead vocal, according to Mark Lewisohn – followed by another false start. The fifth and final attempt was the one marked ‘best’, and was later included on Anthology 1.

Onto take five Lennon overdubbed a second lead vocal and George Harrison double-tracked his lead guitar. Paul McCartney taped a piano part and Ringo Starr added a tambourine.

Leave My Kitten Alone was never mixed during The Beatles’ career, although a stereo version was made for a single, to be released alongside the unreleased Sessions album, which was prepared by EMI in 1985. This version was subsequently bootlegged, although the other complete attempts remain largely unheard.

Lyrics

You better leave my kitten all alone
You better leave my kitten all alone
Well I told you, big fat bulldog
You’d better leave her alone

You better leave my kitten all alone
You better leave my kitten all alone
This dog is gonna get you
If you don’t leave her alone

Well Mr Dog I’m gonna hit you
On the top of your head
That child is gonna miss you
You gonna wish that you were dead
You better leave my kitten all alone
Well I told you, big fat bulldog
You’d better leave her alone

Well Mr Dog I’m gonna hit you
On the top of your head
That child is gonna miss you
You gonna wish that you was dead
If you don’t leave my kitten all alone, oh yeah
Well I told you, big fat bulldog
You’d better leave her alone

Hey hey
You better leave, you better leave
You better leave
Yeah, you better leave
You better leave, oh you got to leave
Hey hey
Well I told you big fat bulldog

6 responses on “Leave My Kitten Alone

  1. Johnny Wyse

    While McCartney historically gives credit to Preston, Lennon’s version is all Little Willie John! Take a ride on the wild side. Go to YouTube and listen to both versions!

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