You’ve Got A Habit Of Leaving


‘You’ve Got A Habit Of Leaving’ – Single Version (1965)


You've got a habit of leaving me
And you've got a habit of deserting me

Sometimes I cry
Sometimes I'm so sad
Sometimes I'm so glad, so glad

You could go on if you wanted to, wanted to, wanted to
Wanted to
If you wanted to, yeah
Oh huh

You've got a habit of leaving me
And you've got a habit of deserting me

Sometimes I cry
Sometimes I'm so sad
Sometimes I'm so glad, so glad

You could go on if you wanted to, wanted, wanted to
Wanted to, ooh yeah, yeah
Oh, if you wanted to
If you wanted to, yeah, yeah
Wanted to


Bowie’s third single was released on 20th August 1965 on EMI Parlophone, with a delay due to repeating disagreements between producer Shel Talmy and Bowie. It features young Davy Jones with The Lower Third in their attempt to make it big in Swinging London. After an unsuccessful attempt to land a single with ‘Born Of The Night’ it was about time.

The song is known to be performed first by David Bowie on 17th May 1965 during the Lower Third auditions and subsequent rehearsals, the same audition that landed Bowie the position as the band’s lead singer. However, it seems that David had this song in his pockets for quite some time since the early 1960s. He told photographer Mick Rock in 1972 that “the first song I ever demoed was ‘You’ve Got A Habit Of Leaving’. I’d saved up about 2 pounds to hire a demo studio. Touted it around everywhere. Nobody wanted to know.”

Eventually, the song would finally be officially released that year. The song must have undergone some changes over the years as the single appears to be clearly influenced by recent releases of The Kinks and especially The Who. However, until a deal to record this single was struck the unfortunate band first had to get its act back together. After the number of live performances by Davy Jones and The Lower Third became less and less during the months June and July 1965 – apparently as a result of Leslie Conn’s loss of interest in promoting the band – David pledged Conn to land them a recording deal with Shel Talmy. Perhaps a new single would help make the audience aware of the band. They were lucky, Talmy seemed to like it and gave them the deal: both the A-Side ‘You’ve Got A Habit Of Leaving’ and B-Side ‘Baby Loves That Way’ were recorded at IBC Studios, Portland Place, some time in July.

As noted earlier, the style in which Bowie sings the song as well as the guitar riffs, the teenage aggression as heard in the lyrics and how the song turns chaotic almost mid-way through – these facts all clearly show how directly influenced Bowie was by The Kinks and The Who – both bands being produced by Shel Talmy, by the way.

The Kinks had mostly left their impression concerning chords. You can hear how Bowie somehow mashed up the two-chord riff as heard on ‘My Generation’ with the somewhat languid melody of ‘Tired Of Waiting For You’. Quite distantly ‘You Really Got Me’ must have influenced Davy Jones and The Lower Third as well as per the shift from the tonic chord to the major second.


However, the strongest influence on ‘You’ve Got A Habit Of Leaving’ must have come from The Who and their debut hit ‘I Can’t Explain’ earlier in 1965. Their impression on Bowie mainly came from their style of singing and the outburst of angsty teenage lyrics. The Who’s influence is also noticeable when ‘You’ve Got A Habit Of Leaving’ turns into its self-destructive rave-up towards the end – as can be similarly heard on The Who’s 1965 hit ‘Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere’. The musical influence by The Who must have been so obvious that the guitarist and songwriter of the same band, Pete Townshend, felt obliged to interrupt Davy Jones and The Lower Third during a sound-check at Bournemouth Pavilion on 20th August 1965, the day of the official release of the single. The Lower Third’s drummer Phil Lancaster retells the situation in 1983:

Pete came walking into the dance hall while we were playing Dave’s songs. He came to the stage and said, ‘Whose stuff is that you’re doing?’ So David replied: ‘It’s mine,’ to which Pete replied, ‘That’s a bit of a cheese-off, that sounds a lot like mine’. I sat down with Pete later and we had a natter about what we were earning. He wanted to know if we were getting as much as he was. We used to bump into them quite a lot after that.

In 1993, David Bowie also gave a short account of what happened when Pete Townshend interrupted their sound-check that day:

We had a thing about The Who. In fact we used to play second support to them in Bournemouth. That was the first time I met Townshend and got talking to him about songwriting and stuff. I was hugely influenced by him. We had songs called ‘Baby Loves That Way’, ‘You’ve Got A Habit Of Leaving’ – some really duff things. Townshend came into our soundcheck and listened to a couple of things and said, ‘You’re trying to write like me!’ I said: ‘Yeah, what do you think?’ He said: ‘Mmm, well, there’s a lot of bands around like you at the moment’. I don’t think he was very impressed.

Immediately after the release of the single it became apparent that the single did not sell well at all. Though not all reviews were bad at all. A reviewer with a rather subjective point of view described David Bowie in Record Mirror on 11th September 1965 as a “highly talented singer. It’s a curiously pitched vocal sound with powerful percussion and a slightly girgy approach. Plenty happening: lots of wailing. Very off-beat.”

Perhaps the bad charting performance was due to the fact that the A-side was simply too much of an obviously copied The Who/The Kinks style song. Despite of the single trying to ride on The Kinks’/The Who’s success during the entire year 1965 as they landed a handful of high-charting debut hits it needs to be mentioned that the song is not crafted very well. On the one hand, Bowie is far away from his vocal performances as shown on ‘I Pity The Fool’ and shows here rather shy-ish and fragile vocals. On the other hand, the bridge from the relatively good part of the song to the worst part when he starts to sing “sometimes I cry” really ruins the song for me.

With the official single release EMI Parlophone published this official press release which read as follows:


For The Record – EMI Biography

“WE’RE NOT a ‘scream’ group. We like our audiences to be quiet while we’re performing a number, and then to give us a healthy response when we finish. So says DAVIE JONES, who recently teamed up with THE LOWER THIRD and is heard with them on the group’s first record, “YOU’VE GOT A HABIT OF LEAVING”.

DAVIE was about 17 when he became a full-time singer: “It was either that or commercial art. I was doing both as a semi-pro and at that time I thought singing was more creative. I joined the King Bees and was with several more groups until meeting The Lower Third.”

WHILE their future vocalist was singing with other groups, The Lower Third were playing in the Thanet area of Kent, where they lived at the time. They are now based in London. They were, as bass guitarist Graham Evans said, “trying to find some sort of foothold.” Three months ago they moved to London and played for a few weeks at The Discotheque Club before meeting Davie. Since then they have played at Bournemouth Pavilion and at a seaside club where membership increased from 50 to 2,000 during their stay.

WHAT do Davie and his new group think of their partnership? Says Davie: “We like each others ideas. We have the same policies and fit rather well together. All us us like to keep to ourselves and we like things rather than people.”

First record by Davie (who wrote both sides) and The Lower Third is “YOU’VE GOT A HABIT OF LEAVING” and “BABY LOVES THAT WAY” on Parlophone R 5315. Release date was August 20th, 1965. With the Manish Boys, Davie previously recorded “I PITY THE FOOL” on Parlophone R 5250.

Davie Jones and The Lower Third line-up as follows:-

DAVIE JONES born at Brixton on January 1st, 1946. Sings and plays harmonica. Likes – painting; dislikes – “in crowds”. Favourite artistes – Graham Rivens, Sammy Davis Jr.; food – rump steak; drinks – barley wine, vodka and lime. Ambition – “the group’s ambition”. Has blonde hair, green eyes, is 5ft 11 ins. and weighs 9 stone.

DENNIS (Teacup) TAYLOR born at Ramsgate on July 6th, 1944. Plays lead guitar. Likes – women with kinky boots; dislikes – “in crowds”, big heads. Favourite artistes – Frank Sinatra, Sophia Lauren, Carroll Baker; food – spaghetti Bolognese, Chinese; drink – rum, cider, stout. Ambition – to be a good musician. Has grey-blue eyes, dark brown hair, is 5ft 11 ins. and weighs 10 stone.

PHIL LANCASTER born at Walthamstow on December 26th, 1942. Plays drums. Likes – rain, reading Jack Kerouac and John Steinbeck; dislikes – hypocrisy. Favourite artistes – Sammy Davis, Lambert, Hendricks and Bevan; food – cod and chips; drinks – lager and lime. Ambition – “to make loads of money and keep playing”. Has blue eyes, brown hair, is 5ft 8 ins. and weighs 9 stone.

GRAHAM RIVENS born at Plaistow on October 10th, 1942. Plays bass guitar. Likes – big cars, guitars; dislikes – traffic wardens, taxi drivers. Favourite artistes – Phil Lancaster; food – curried prawns, fresh fish and chips; drinks – vodka. Ambition – “to end up with a line of garages and pubs”. Has blue-grey eyes, dark brown hair, is 6ft 1 in. and weighs 10 stone 11 lbs.

Martin Ross,
The Press Office,

‘You’ve Got A Habit Of Leaving’ was not performed during any of David Bowie’s live performances in the years following the single’s release. However, in the year 2000 the song was among the songs of Bowie’s older song repertoire to be revisited and re-recorded in a slightly different way (and leaked onto to the public via the Internet as the Toy album in March 2011). The new version is almost twice as long as the original version and is, in my opinion, superior. The instruments play together in a more harmonious fashion and dominate Bowie’s vocals. This 4’49” version can be heard here:

‘You’ve Got A Habit Of Leaving’ – Toy Sessions (2000)



Single Version:

  • Vinyl You’ve Got A Habit Of Leaving (A-Side) / Baby Loves That Way (B-Side) 8/1965
  • Vinyl The Manish Boys / Davy Jones & The Lower 3rd EP 1979
  • CD Early On (1964-1966) 1991
  • Vinyl Bowie 1965! EP 2013

Extended Version:

  • Toy Sessions unreleased
  • CD Slow Burn EP 2002 (Austria)
  • CD Slow Burn EP 2002 (Japan)
  • CD Everyone Says ‘Hi’ EP 2002 (UK)



  • Davy Jones (vocal, harmonica)
  • Denis Taylor (guitar, vocal)
  • Graham Rivens (bass)
  • Phil Lancaster (drums)
  • Nicky Hopkins (piano)
  • Shel Talmy, Les Conn (backing vocal)
  • Glyn Johns (backing vocal)
  • Produced by Shel Talmy

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Filed under 1965-66: Davy Jones & The Lower Third, 2000: Toy Sessions

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