I Call Your Name - The Beatles

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"I Call Your Name" - The Beatles (1964)

Lennon commented on “I Call Your Name:”

 “That was my song. When there was no Beatles and no group. I just had it around. It was my effort as a kind of blues originally, and then I wrote the middle eight just to stick it in the album when it came out years later. The first part had been written before Hamburg even. It was one of my first attempts at a song.”

McCartney’s take on the track was: 

“We worked on it together, but it was John's idea. When I look back at some of these lyrics, I think, Wait a minute. What did he mean? 'I call your name but you're not there.' Is it his mother? His father? I must admit I didn't really see that as we wrote it because we were just a couple of young guys writing. You didn't look behind it at the time, it was only later you started analyzing things.”

The most interesting aspect about “I Call Your Name” is Lennon’s middle-eight guitar solo played in a double-time swing tempo but based on a reggae, ska rhythm that merges elements of American jazz music with R&B and Carabbean calypso. When they recorded the song in 1964 reggae music was largely unknown outside of Jamaica. It was clearly a turning point for Lennon as a musical arranger as he was now prepared to enter the foray into the realm of genuine experimentation.

After Billy Kramer and the Dakotas recorded it, Lennon decided he didn’t like their version and wanted The Beatles to give it a try. The track features the first time George Harrison played his Rickenbacker 360/12 guitar.

“I Call Your Name” has been described as a “pulsing rocker” with a catchy, easily-digestible sound and which strays slightly off the beaten track. The composition is unique in that the middle part has only one melody, but in three different ways. This creates a feeling of desperation.

The three variations in the middle part end in the same note, but are emphasized in different ways: 1) "take it..." 2) "who can..." 3) "ya take it..." At the same time a counter melody in a guitar binds the three variations.

Says Beatle scholar Alan Pollack:

“The style of this one is not easily pigeon-holed; somewhat bluesy in flavor, but not at all in form; more like pop, or even jazz, than the predominantly harder rock songs which chronologically surround it. During the solo section, the back-beat is modified even while the tempo is kept constant. When the original beat returns after this break, it too sounds like a change yet again! This is possibly the first time we've seen this trick in a Beatles' song.”

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