Released: 3 November 1986 (UK), 27 October 1986 (US)
John Lennon: vocals
Jesse Ed Davis, Steve Cropper, Jose Feliciano, Art Munson, William Perry, Louis Shelton, Dale Anderson, Larry Carlton, David Cohen: guitar
Phil Spector: guitar, piano
Mac Rebennack, Leon Russell, Michael Omartian: keyboards
Nino Tempo: saxophone, keyboards
Bob Glaub, Thomas Hensley, Ray Neapolitan: bass guitar
William Perkins, Robert Hardaway: woodwind
Anthony Terran: trumpet
Jeff Barry, Andy Thomas, Michael Wofford, Michael Lang, Barry Mann, Michael Melvoin: piano
Bobby Keys, Jim Horn, Plas Johnson, Ronald Langinger, Donald Menza, Gene Cipriano: saxophone
Joseph Kelson: horn
Julian Matlock: clarinet
Conte Candoli, Chuck Findley: trumpet
Jim Keltner, Hal Blaine, Frank Capp, Jim Gordon: drums
Gary Coleman, Alan Estes, Steve Forman, Terry Gibbs: percussion
May Pang: backing vocals
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 early Rock ‘N’ Roll sessions, slowing the tempo and turning 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.