You've Got A Habit Of Leaving single – United KingdomWritten by: David Bowie
Recorded: July 1965; July, October-November 2000
Producers: Shel Talmy; David Bowie, Tony Visconti
Engineers: Glyn Johns; Pete Keppler, Tony Visconti

Released: 20 August 1965

Available on:
Nothing Has Changed


David Bowie: vocals, harmonica
Denis ‘Tea-Cup’ Taylor: guitar, vocals
Nicky Hopkins: piano
Graham Rivens: bass guitar
Phil Lancaster: drums

David Bowie: vocals
Earl Slick, Mark Plati: guitar
Mike Garson: piano
Gail Ann Dorsey: bass guitar, vocals
Sterling Campbell: drums
Lisa Germano: violin
Holly Palmer, Emm Gryner: vocals

David Bowie’s third single, ‘You’ve Got A Habit Of Leaving’, was released in 1965. Credited to Davy Jones, it was recorded with his band The Lower Third.

The song was influenced by The Who, whose guitarist Pete Townshend later worked with Bowie on Scary Monsters and Heathen.

‘You’ve Got A Habit Of Leaving’ was the first of two singles Bowie released with the Lower Third. The follow-up, ‘Can’t Help Thinking About Me’, was released in January 1966.

Bowie’s music hadn’t really moved on from what he was doing with the Manish Boys. The Lower Third were probably more aggressive, they played a little bit louder. When the Manish Boys finished, Bowie brought the Lower Third in and played me some of the stuff they were doing and I said, ‘Cool, let’s carry on.’

They were all pretty good musicians and I supplemented them with Nicky Hopkins. In my free time I worked on how to cut everything a little bit louder and I liked working right near the edge without going over it. I brought that with me – various miking techniques that nobody had been doing in England or in America either. I developed some skills that nobody in England was using, and most of them caught on.

I liked the songs a lot. They were different from the records that went into the charts at that point; the songs I did were nothing like anything that was in the charts, and that was my mistake. We were too far ahead of the market.

David always impressed me. He was very bright and I always enjoyed talking to him. We spent a fair amount of time together and he was a smart guy. I happened to like that, so we got on really well. I could tell he was gonna make it; unfortunately I wasn’t part of when he really made it big because several years further on he reinvented himself, as he did on several occasions, and that caught on with the public.

Shel Talmy
David Bowie: Ultimate Record Collection (Uncut)

In the studio

‘You’ve Got A Habit Of Leaving’ was recorded in July 1965 at IBC Studios in London’s Portland Place, where Bowie had previous recorded the Manish Boys’ single ‘I Pity The Fool’.

The single was produced by Shel Talmy, who had also worked with the Kinks and the Who. Renowned keyboard player Nicky Hopkins played on the session.

It was the big time. David’s recording manager was Shel Talmy. When you consider who was in that room working on that record… Shel Talmy, Glyn Johns was the engineer behind the glass and then you had Nicky Hopkins coming in as a session piano player on it.

I enjoyed the session. I had a bit of a boom in my bass drum, so I got Dave’s tweed jacket he always wore and hung it over the front to stop the boom. I was concentrating on my bit – there’s a lot of feedback on it, and there’s a really strange sound at the end which is completely improvised. David picked up a wine glass and ran it up and down Denis’s fretboard – he did that on the spot, that’s how inventive he was.

We were completely in the dark about the business side of it, we were just hoping to get on to make it. Shel was very laid-back on the session. He let us do our thing, listened to most of it. Then he said, ‘Nice cut,’ and then pissed off. He must have come back, because on the b-side we all did the backing vocals – including him and Les Conn, David’s manager at that moment.

Phil Lancaster
David Bowie: Ultimate Record Collection (Uncut)

‘You’ve Got A Habit Of Leaving’ was re-recorded by Bowie in 2000 for the aborted Toy album. The new version was released on some versions of the ‘Slow Burn’ and ‘Everyone Says ‘Hi” singles, and on the full album in November 2021.

The 2000 version of ‘You’ve Got A Habit Of Leaving’ features Lisa Germano on violin.

Her violin on ‘Let Me Sleep Beside You’, ‘I Dig Everything’ and ‘You’ve Got A Habit’ is the secret sauce that pushes those songs slightly off the rails, and her recorder in ‘Silly Boy Blue’ brings something child-like that slightly offsets the sophisticated string arrangement. These bittersweet elements of fragile, quirky, melancholic or occasionally angsty Americana were not something we’d anticipated, but we fully embraced.
Mark Plati, March 2021
Brilliant Adventure (1992-2001) book

The release

‘You’ve Got A Habit Of Leaving’ was released on 20 August 1965 as Parlophone ‎R 5315. The b-side was another Bowie composition, ‘Baby Loves That Way’.

The single was accompanied by a press release by freelance journalist Roy Carson. Hand-typed and running to two pages, it detailed each member of the Lower Third, and said of Bowie:

Insistently he claims the dubious honour of being Bromley’s first ‘Mod’ but has since changed his philosophy to become a ‘Rocker’. He plays tenor, alto and baritone saxophones, as well as a guitar, flute and clarinet, though never all at once.

He likes Spike Milligan, 18th-century architecture, Dutch School painting, Scandinavian ‘birds’. Dislikes education, 9-5 jobs, long straight roads and ‘coppers’ (in either sense – ‘cash’ or the ‘law’).

EMI also published a biography of the band in August 1965:

“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, 1945. 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,

The Heathen single ‘Slow Burn’ was released in 2002. The 2000 re-recording of ‘You’ve Got A Habit Of Leaving’ was included on some versions of the European and Japanese CD singles.

Later that year ‘Everyone Says ‘Hi” was issued as a single. The new version of ‘You’ve Got A Habit Of Leaving’ was one of three tracks on the third UK CD single, and on the two-disc deluxe edition of Heathen.

The 1965 recording was included on the triple-disc edition of Bowie’s 2014 compilation Nothing Has Changed.

The 2000 version was released in November 2021 on Toy and the extended Toy:Box.

In April 2022 the Toy EP (You’ve Got It Made With All The Toys) was released on CD and 10″ vinyl for the annual Record Store Day. One of the six songs was ‘You’ve Got A Habit Of Leaving’ (Radio Edit).

Previous song: ‘Take My Tip’
Next song: ‘Baby Loves That Way’
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