Written by: Spector-Greenwich-Barry
Recorded: c.October-December 1973
Producers: Phil Spector
Released: 2 November 1998
John Lennon: vocals
Phil Spector: guitar, piano
Jesse Ed Davis, Steve Cropper, Jose Feliciano, Art Munson, William Perry, Louis Shelton, Dale Anderson, Larry Carlton, David Cohen: guitar
Ray Neapolitan, Bob Glaub, Thomas Hensley: bass guitar
Jeff Barry, Andy Thomas, Michael Wofford, Michael Lang, Barry Mann, Michael Melvoin: piano
Mac Rebennack, Leon Russell, Michael Omartian: keyboards
Nino Tempo: keyboards, saxophone
William Perkins, Robert Hardaway: woodwind
Julian Matlock: clarinet
Anthony Terran, Conte Candoli, Chuck Findley: trumpet
Bobby Keys, Jim Horn, Plas Johnson, Ronald Langinger, Donald Menza, Gene Cipriano: saxophone
Joseph Kelson: horn
Jim Keltner, Hal Blaine, Frank Capp, Jim Gordon: drums
Alan Estes, Gary Coleman, Steve Forman, Terry Gibbs: percussion
John Lennon Anthology
Recorded in late 1973 for the Rock ‘N’ Roll sessions with Phil Spector, this cover of Be My Baby remained a rarity until it was released on the John Lennon Anthology box set in 1998.
The song was written by Spector, Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry, and was first released as a single by The Ronettes in 1963. In the United States it peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100, and number four on the Record Retailer chart in the United Kingdom.
In 1973 Spector produced a number of recordings for Lennon’s Rock ‘N’ Roll album. Inspired by Cher’s version of The Ronettes’ Baby I Love You, he slowed down Be My Baby and another of his hits, To Know Her Is To Love Her. Never one to underuse a recording technique, the trick was repeated on Sweet Little Sixteen, Bony Moronie, You Can’t Catch Me and Since My Baby Left Me.
In the knowledge that John Lennon and Yoko Ono were separated at the time of Be My Baby’s recording, the funereal pace and cathartic pleading transforms the song from being an account of teenage desire into a desperate plea for acceptance.
The decision not to include Be My Baby on Rock ‘N’ Roll remains puzzling. The song features some of Lennon’s most impassioned vocals from the sessions, and stripped of the Wall of Sound backing it would not have sounded out of place on 1970’s John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band.
The song did appear on Roots: John Lennon Sings The Great Rock & Roll Hits, a rare mail-order album containing rough mixes of the sessions. The collection was released by music publisher Morris Levy and followed legal action over The Beatles song Come Together’s similarity to Chuch Berry’s You Can’t Catch Me, a song owned by Levy. Roots was briefly available in January 1975 before EMI blocked its sale.