You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)
|"You Know My Name
(Look Up the Number)"
|Single by The Beatles|
|A-side||"Let It Be"|
|Released||6 March 1970|
17 May, 7 and 8 June 1967
and 30 April 1969,
EMI Studios, London
|Genre||Comedy rock, novelty, jazz, experimental rock|
|The Beatles UK singles chronology|
"You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)" is a song by the Beatles originally released as the B-side of the single "Let It Be" on 6 March 1970. Although first issued with their final single (penultimate single in the United States), it was recorded in four separate sessions beginning with three in May and June 1967, and one in 1969.
Earlier in 1967, Frank Zappa had already used the same types of ideas to record "America Drinks and Goes Home" on the album Absolutely Free. The Zappa song parodied his own experiences playing with drunken bar bands in the early 1960s. Other similar songs recorded around the same time include "Berkshire Poppies" by the English psychedelic rock band Traffic (recorded and released in 1967), "My Friend" by Jimi Hendrix (recorded in 1968, released in 1971) and "On With The Show" by The Rolling Stones (recorded and released in 1967).
That was a piece of unfinished music that I turned into a comedy record with Paul. I was waiting for him in his house, and I saw the phone book was on the piano with 'You know the name, look up the number.' That was like a logo, and I just changed it.
McCartney once told Beatles recording analyst Mark Lewisohn, "[People] are only just discovering things like 'You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)' — probably my favourite Beatles' track!" He went on to explain:
It's so insane. All the memories ... I mean, what would you do if a guy like John Lennon turned up at the studio and said, 'I've got a new song'. I said, 'What's the words?' and he replied 'You know my name look up the number'. I asked, 'What's the rest of it?' 'No, no other words, those are the words. And I want to do it like a mantra!'
The lounge section includes a reference to Denis O'Dell, associate producer on the A Hard Day's Night film, whom Lennon had also worked with on How I Won the War. Partway through the song, Lennon introduces McCartney as lounge singer "Denis O’Bell." The reference prompted numerous telephone calls to O'Dell's home by fans who told him, "We have your name and now we've got your number," as well as personal visits by fans wanting to live with him.
The song is in the key of D and begins with a I-IV-V7-I-IV-V7-I chord progression: thus "You know" involves F#-D# melody notes against a I (D chord). A point of interest is the raised A melody note against a D/F# chord on "name", "three" and "name". A significant moment is the substitution of a #IVdim chord (G#dim) for the more standard II7 as part of the progression to V7 (A7 chord on "You know my name") and I (D chord after "number") that closes the verse. The song is also notable for use of the 5th chord tone on the VII chord to produce extra dissonance.
All four Beatles participated in the first three recording sessions on 17 May, 7 and 8 June 1967. A saxophone part was recorded on 8 June which was played by Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones.
The song was left unreleased and untouched until 30 April 1969 when Lennon and McCartney laid down all the vocal tracks and added additional sound effects with the help of Mal Evans. George Harrison and Ringo Starr did not participate in this last session. Nick Webb, second engineer on the 30 April session described it this way:
John and Paul weren't always getting along that well at this time, but for this song they went out on the studio floor and sang together around one microphone. Even at this time I was thinking 'What are they doing with this old four-track tape, recording these funny bits onto this quaint song?' But it was a fun track to do.
Despite the fun sessions described by McCartney and Webb, the song was not released for another year.
Although eventually released as a Beatles song, "You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)" was nearly released as the A-side of a Plastic Ono Band single. Lennon was determined to have this song and "What's the New Mary Jane" (a Beatles outtake from the White Album sessions recorded by Lennon and Yoko Ono with George Harrison in August, 1968) released, and he arranged for Apple to issue both unorthodox songs on a Plastic Ono Band single. On 26 November 1969, four months after Jones drowned in his swimming pool, Lennon edited "You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)", reducing the length from 6:08 to 4:19, a more suitable length for a single. The Plastic Ono Band single was given an Apple catalogue number (Apples 1002) and British release date (5 December 1969).
Apple issued a press release, describing the record as Lennon and Yoko Ono singing and backed by "many of the greatest show business names of today" which the press believed was a thinly disguised reference to the Beatles. The record was cancelled before it was issued.
Three months later, the song was released as the B-side to The Beatles' single, "Let It Be." The original Plastic Ono Band single catalogue number is visible, though scratched out, in the runout groove of the original British pressings of the "Let It Be" single.
"You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)" was the last Beatles song from the group's official canon to be included on an album, issued on an LP for the first time on Rarities (which had been included as a bonus disc in the British and American boxed set, The Beatles Collection in 1978, and released separately as an album in the United Kingdom in 1979). The first American album to contain "You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)" was the US version of Rarities, which was issued by Capitol Records in 1980.
"You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)" was available only in mono until 1996, when an extended stereo mix was finally issued on Anthology 2. However, while this mix restores portions of the song, it omits others that were issued on the original mono single, causing considerable differences between the mono and stereo versions of the track. For example, the ending of the stereo version has an early fade out, whereas the mono version does not. This song is the only song in the Beatles catalogue where the multi-track master tapes are available that has not received a stereo mix of the original edit.
The band Yellow Matter Custard covered the song for their CD/DVD release One Night In New York City.
- John Lennon – lead vocals, guitar, maracas, sound effects
- Paul McCartney – lead vocals, piano, bass, handclaps, sound effects
- George Harrison – lead guitar, vibes
- Ringo Starr – drums, bongos
- Brian Jones – alto saxophone
- Mal Evans – sound effects
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- "You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)". About The Beatles. 2007. Retrieved 22 March 2007.