You Know My Name (Look Up the Number) ~ The Beatles

the-beatlesThe Beatles were a rock and pop band from Liverpool, England that formed in 1960. During their career, the group primarily consisted of John Lennon (rhythm guitar, vocals), Paul McCartney (bass guitar, vocals), George Harrison (lead guitar, vocals) and Ringo Starr (drums, vocals). Although their initial musical style was rooted in 1950s rock and roll and skiffle, the group worked with different musical genres, ranging from Tin Pan Alley to psychedelic rock. Their clothes, style and statements made them trend-setters, while their growing social awareness saw their influence extend into the social and cultural revolutions of the 1960s. After the band broke up in 1970, all four members embarked upon successful solo careers.

The Beatles are one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed bands in the history of popular music, selling over one billion records internationally.

You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)

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.

The song is a music hall comedy number. Lennon came up with the lyric/title after seeing a phone book. He said:

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 favorite 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, who 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.

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 recorded by Lennon and Yoko Ono with George Harrison) 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 catalog number (Apples 1002) and British release date (December 5, 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 catalog number is visible, though scratched out, in the runout groove of the original British pressings of the “Let It Be” single.

“What’s the New Mary Jane” was not officially issued by the Beatles until the release of Anthology 3 in 1996, although the song did appear on bootleg records.

“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 stand-alone American album to feature “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)” was the US Rarities, which was released in 1980.

The first CD version was issued in 1988 on the Past Masters, Volume Two compilation.

“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 released on the mono single, causing considerable differences between the mono and stereo versions of the track. For example, the ending of the stereo version has the talking portion fade out, whereas the mono version does not.

A stereo version featuring all five sections uncut has never been released or appeared on bootlegs.

You know my name
Look up the number
You know my name
Look up the number
You you know you know my name
You you know you know my name

Good evening and welcome to Slaggers
Featuring Denis O’Bell
Come on Ringo, let’s hear it for Denis

Good evening
You know my name
Better look up the number
You know my name
(That’s right) look up the number
You you know you know my name
You you know you know my name
You know my name
Ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba
Look up my number
You know my name
That’s right look up the number
Oh you know you know
You know my name you know you know you know my name.

Huh huh huh huh
You know my name
Ba ba ba pum
Look up the number
You know my name
Look up the number
You-a you know you know my name
Baby you-a you know you know my name
You know my name you know you know you know my name
Go on Denis, let’s hear it for Denis O’Bell
You know my name you know you know you know you know you know my name
Prrr you know my name and the number
You know my name and the number you know you know my name
Look up me number
You know my number three you know my number two
You know my number three you know my number four
You know my name you know number too
You know my name you know my number
What’s up with you?

You know my name
That’s right
Yeah.

  • Audio from the 1996 album, Anthology 2:
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About DJ Allyn

DJ Allyn is a burned out radio guy who went on to become a burned out sound engineer for a few Seattle area grunge bands in the 1980s and 1990s. Left the madness of worldwide tours with bands, cleaned up my act and went into the relative sanity of sound engineering for television series. Currently working as the Director of Sound for a television series being filmed in North Vancouver, British Columbia. I am always on the lookout for interesting videos, old music, and fun.

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