The Story Behind “Anybody Seen My Baby?” by The Rolling Stones and Why k.d. lang Felt as if She Had “Won the Lottery”

Songwriting credit can be a tricky thing. In its simplest form, if you write a song, you are entitled to compensation in three ways: mechanical (the sale of a recording of your song), performance (the broadcast or streaming of a song), and synch (licensing your song for use with television, movie, or other moving images). If multiple people are involved in creating the song, they split the compensation. Since the beginning of recorded music, people have sold their interest in a song. There have been many examples of people in positions of influence having their names inserted in the list of composers. Disc jockeys, television hosts, and record label executives have all benefitted from having their name added to the label of a record as a songwriter.

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Another situation is when a big-name artist sang a song under the condition his or her name was added as a writer. Dolly Parton famously turned down Elvis Presley’s proposition to record “I Will Always Love You” in return for procuring half of the writer’s credit. When a recording contains too many elements similar to an existing song, it can lead to legal action. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards wanted to avoid just that when it was pointed out to them their new single was awfully similar to an existing song. Let’s take a look at the story behind “Anybody Seen My Baby?” by The Rolling Stones.

She confessed her love to me
Then she vanished on the breeze
Tryna hold on to that was just impossible
She was more than beautiful
Closer to ethereal
With a kind of down-to-earth flavor
Close my eyes
It’s three in the afternoon
Then I I realize
That she’s really gone for good

“Constant Craving”

In 1997, as The Rolling Stones were just about to release Bridges to Babylon, “Anybody Seen My Baby?” was chosen to be the lead single. The chorus was very similar to a 1992 hit by country singer k.d. lang. To avoid legal troubles, songwriting credit was shared. Keith Richards shed light on the situation in his 2010 autobiography, Life:

“The writers’ credits under ‘Anybody Seen My Baby?’ include k.d. lang and a co-writer (Ben Mink). My daughter Angela and her friend were at Redlands, and I was playing the record, and they start singing this totally different song over it. They were hearing k.d. lang’s “Constant Craving.” It was Angela and her friend that copped it. And the record was about to come out in a week. Oh s–t, he’s lifted another one. I don’t think he’s ever done it deliberately; he’s just a sponge. So I had to call up … all of the heavy-duty lawyers, and I said, ‘Have this checked out right now. Otherwise, we’re going to be sued.’ And within 24 hours, I got a phone call: ‘You’re right.’ We had to include k.d. lang in the writing credits.”

Anybody seen my baby?
Anybody seen her around?
Love has gone and made me blind
I’ve looked, but I just can’t find
She has gotten lost in the crowd
And I was flippin’ magazines
In that place on Mercer Street
When I thought I spotted her
And getting on a motorbike
Looking really lady-like
Didn’t she just give me a wave?
The salty tears
It’s three in the afternoon
Has she disappeared?
Has she really gone for good?

A Total Lift

Jagger has a history of exactly this sort of thing. Richards revealed more information about his longtime writing partner: “He’d hear something in a club, and a week later, he’d think he wrote it. And I’d say, ‘no, that’s actually a total lift.’ I’ve had to check him on that. I’ve played him songs that I’ve come up with, ideas. … He says, that’s nice, and we fiddle about for a bit and leave it alone. A week later, he’ll come back and say, ‘Look, I’ve just written this.'”

Anybody seen my baby? (Anybody seen my baby?)
Anybody seen her around? (Oh, hope anybody seen her around)
If I just close my eyes (I close my eyes)
I reach out and touch the prize
Anybody seen anybody seen her around?
(Oh yeah, that’s what I’m sayin’)

“It’s Like I Won the Lottery”

When k.d. lang appeared on the UK morning show Something For the Weekend in 2010, she shared her reaction to being included as a songwriter on the song: “I just got a phone call from my lawyer saying, ‘Would you like 25% of The Rolling Stones’ new single for the publishing?’ Yes. Sure. It’s like I won the lottery.”

We came to rock for Brooklyn
And Queens
And Manhattan
And the Bronx
And Staten Island
I can’t forget New Jersey
And Long Island
And all over the world
We came to rock for everybody, uh, like this

“A One Two”

In addition to Jagger and Richards, Charlie Watts provided the drums, and Ron Wood played guitar. Jamie Muhoberac added keyboards and bass to the song. Waddy Wachtel played acoustic guitar. The middle section contains a sample of rapper Biz Markie’s 1986 track “A One Two,” where he lists New York neighborhoods. This was the first time a sample was employed on a Rolling Stones song.

Anybody seen my baby? (Anybody, anybody seen my baby?)
Has anybody seen her, anybody seen her around?
If I just close my eyes
I will reach out, reach out, and touch the prize
Anybody, anybody seen her around? Oh yeah


When guitarist Brian Jones left The Rolling Stones in 1969, he recorded some song demos, including one called “Has Anybody Seen My Baby?” The song was similar in title only.

(Anybody seen my baby?) Anybody seen her?
(Anybody seen her around?) Lost, lost, and never found
Oh yeah, I must have. I must have called her a thousand times
Oh, sometimes I just think she’s just in my imagination
Oh yeah
Lost, lost in the crowd

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