Co-written and first recorded by Barry Goldberg (1973).
Hit version by Gladys Knight & The Pips (US #4/R&B #1 1973).
Also recorded by Bob Dylan (bootleg 1984), Joe Cocker (1989), Gerry Goffin, co-writer (1995), Joan Osborne (2007).
From the wiki: “‘I’ve Got to Use My Imagination’ was written by Gerry Goffin (‘Up on the Roof‘, ‘Oh No Not My Baby‘, ‘Saving All My Love for You‘, ‘One Fine Day’) and by Barry Goldberg, and was first recorded by Goldberg in 1973 at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio with co-producers Jerry Wexler and Bob Dylan (also on backing vocals and percussion).
“Goldberg was the pianist behind Dylan at the infamous ‘Dylan goes electric’ Newport Folk Festival performance in 1965 (he was a member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band that had backed Dylan), and it was Dylan who helped Goldberg secure the deal with Atlantic Records that resulted in the 1974 release of Barry Goldberg.
“Goldberg was considered a member of the Chicago ‘Blues mafia’ of the 1960s, along with guitarist Mike Bloomfield. Both co-founded Electric Flag (with Buddy Miles, among others), and Goldberg later played on Super Session with Bloomfield and Al Kooper. Among other albums Goldberg contributed to were Leonard Cohen’s Death of a Ladies’ Man, The Ramones’ End of the Century, The Flying Burrito Brothers’ The Gilded Palace of Sin. His songs, some co-written with Goffin, have also been recorded by Rod Stewart, Joe Cocker, Steve Miller, Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland, Gram Parsons and B. J. Thomas.
“I’ve Got to Use My Imagination” was covered in 1973 by Gladys Knight & the Pips. Released from the group’s debut Buddah Records album, Imagination, the single followed the release of ‘Midnight Train to Georgia’. It peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 (#1 on the R&B chart).
“Dylan recorded ‘I’ve Got to Use My Imagination’ within the performance of ‘License to Kill’ as part of his June 1984 setlist in Barcelona, Spain, captured on the ‘From the Coast of Barcelona’ bootleg album. Joe Cocker covered the song in 1989 for his album One Night of Sin. Co-writer Gerry Goffin covered it for his 1995 album Back Room Blood. Joan Osborne issued her cover as the single from her 2007 album Breakfast in Bed.”
Gladys Knight & The Pips, “I’ve Got to Use My Imagination” (1973):
Joe Cocker, “I’ve Got to Use My Imagination” (1989):
Gerry Goffin, “I’ve Got to Use My Imagination” (1995):
Joan Osborne, “I’ve Got to Use My Imagination” (2007):