‘Move Over Ms L’ was originally intended for inclusion on Walls And Bridges, but was left off at the last minute. It had been positioned between ‘Surprise Surprise (Sweet Bird Of Paradox’ and ‘What You Got’ on the album’s second side, but Lennon decided to remove it and change the running order just before the pressing was due to begin, fewer than three weeks before its release.
The song was later re-recorded, and subsequently became the only non-album b-side of Lennon’s career, and was issued with the ‘Stand By Me’ single, taken from the Rock ‘N’ Roll album, in early 1975.
‘Move Over Ms L’ vaguely poked fun at Lennon’s estranged wife Yoko Ono, although the playful lyrics were clearly not intended to hurt the woman who once referred to herself in song as Mrs Lennon.
Now to err is something human and forgiving so divine
I’ll forgive your trespasses if you forgive me mine
Life’s a deal, you knew it when you signed the dotted line
They nail you to the paper, put a rope around your neck
And so we sing along, the boy stood on the burning deck
Lennon recorded a home demo of ‘Move Over Ms L’ prior to the Walls And Bridges sessions. He performed the song on an electric guitar, playing a boogie riff and singing the chorus in falsetto while his girlfriend May Pang made a phone call in the background.
A second demo was taped around a month later, in June 1974. A more serious attempt than the first, this was performed on an acoustic guitar. Lennon whispered the lyrics in an apparent attempt to not wake up Pang, and featured a quick improvised impression of Ono.
Lennon finally brought the song to the studio during the Walls And Bridges sessions. It was recorded in just three takes on 15 July 1974; one of the attempts was released on the 1998 box set John Lennon Anthology. This was more country and western in its feel, with a slide guitar solo by Jesse Ed Davis, but evidently failed to capture the sound Lennon was after.
The song was then given to Keith Moon, one of Lennon’s drinking buddies during the Lost Weekend. Moon recorded the song for his album Two Sides Of The Moon, and was released in April 1975. It was also the b-side of his single ‘Solid Gold’.
Lennon re-recorded ‘Move Over Ms L’ in October 1974, and it became the only original composition of the Rock ‘N’ Roll sessions. This time Lennon was satisfied with the recording, and it was duly issued with the ‘Stand By Me’ single.