Firstly, “You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)” is the B-side of the Beatles’ single “Let It Be”. This was also the last Beatles’ single release while the band were performing together. Indeed, we had to wait a further 25 years for a new Beatles’ single release to make the charts. That of course was “Free As A Bird” when the remaining Beatles got together for the Anthology series. “You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)” appears on the “Past Masters” as well as the Anthology 2 album.
Recorded: 17th May, 7th and 8th June, 1967, also the 30th April, 1969
Format: 7-inch single (B-side) (A-side being “Let It Be“)
Studio: EMI Studios, London
Genre: Comedy rock, jazz, experimental rock, avant-garde, novelty
Track Duration: 4:21 (Mono version); 5:45 (Extended stereo mix)
Record Label: Apple Records
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Geoff Emerick
John Lennon: lead vocals, backing vocals, spoken vocals, guitar, maracas, sound effects
Paul McCartney: lead vocals, piano, bass, handclaps, sound effects
George Harrison: lead guitar, vibraphone
Ringo Starr: drums, timbales, bongos
Brian Jones: alto saxophone
Mal Evans: sound effects
You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)
The problem we have with a reference to Monty Python is those TV programmes were not available until 1969. However, George Martin had a massive connection to British comedians working with many of them intensely after he took control of the Parlophone record label.
Of course, the individual Beatles rubbed shoulders with The Pythons from time to time. So, just maybe the Pythonesque sound was evolving and added as an afterthought when The Beatles went back to look at the track in April, 1969.
“You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)” came about when John Lennon got an idea while at Paul McCartney’s home.
“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.”
All We Are Saying, David Sheff.
While the track may appear slightly unconventional, it does get the approval from Paul McCartney:
“People are only just discovering things like ‘You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)’ – probably my favourite Beatles’ track! 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 Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn.
So, unless Paul was only joking, this is his favourite Beatles’ track! Obviously The Beatles had a little fun while they were experimenting with something as surreal as this.
After the beginning which sounds so similar to “Baby You’re A Rich Man“, the song goes into a nightclub type atmosphere.
“Good evening and welcome to Slaggers
Featuring Denis O’Bell
Come on Ringo, let’s hear it for Denis”
Denis O’Bell is obviously a play on Denis O’Dell who was an associate producer on the film, “A Hard Day’s Night“. As for the reference to Slaggers, well that could easily open to any interpretation, of course!
Although there were many takes on three days between May and June, 1967, the band shelved this song for a couple of years. However, on the 30th April, 1969, John Lennon and Paul McCartney added more vocals and sound effects. This included silly voices and other strange sounds such as Mal Evans digging around gravel with a spade which Paul McCartney found very funny.
In the UK, this track became part of The Beatles’ last single while the band performed together as a group (B-side to Let It Be). To all intents and purposes, the band were already a spent force by then. It’s not that they ran out of ideas, on the contrary, far from it. The Beatles were just not getting on together any more.
On the 10th April, 1970, Paul McCartney made an official announcement that he was leaving the band. However, John Lennon had told many people prior to this that he would be leaving the band.
“You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)” shows the humorous side of The Beatles, of course. Be that as it may, it does help mark the end of an era. Since this was the B-side, could we actually say it was The Beatles’ last song?
You may leave a comment here or join in with the debate about this song in the Fab Four Forum.