John Lennon recorded a cover version of Arthur Crudup’s 1940s blues song ‘My Baby Left Me’ during the sessions for his 1975 album Rock ‘N’ Roll, although it remained unreleased until 1986.

Crudup’s song was recorded by Elvis Presley in 1956, and released as the b-side of his single ‘I Want You, I Need You, I Love You’. Presley’s cover version helped popularise the song, and it was probably this recording that Lennon first heard. The single reached number nine in the UK, and became a chart-topper in the US.

Lennon made several home recordings in October 1971, following the release of Imagine. These were for his own amusement rather than as serious demos, performing the rock ‘n’ roll songs ‘Hi-Heel Sneakers’, ‘The Walk’, and ‘My Baby Left Me’ on an acoustic guitar, as well as an early version of ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’.

‘My Baby Left Me’ was again recorded by Lennon on 9 October 1971, his 31st birthday. A party was held in a hotel room in Syracuse, New York, at which Lennon and Yoko Ono were joined by Ringo Starr, Klaus Voormann, Allen Ginsberg, Jim Keltner, Mal Evans, Neil Aspinall, Eric Clapton and others. The guests drunkenly performed a number of songs old and new, one of which was Crudup’s.

During the initial sessions for the Rock ‘N’ Roll album, which took place from October to December 1973, Lennon revisited the song in earnest. By this time Lennon’s baby had left him; Ono had instigated a separation which lasted until early 1975, leading to the Lost Weekend – a chaotic time in which Lennon hit a personal low point.

Phil Spector produced the initial Rock ‘N’ Roll sessions. On ‘Since My Baby Left Me’ he and Lennon slowed the tempo and turned it into a call-and-response party recording.

When the song was issued on 1986’s Menlove Ave the composer credit was described as “Pending”. The song was presumably not identified as being Crudup’s, which would account for the slightly different title.

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