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

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"You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)" - The Beatles (1968)

Considered by many Beatle experts to be a “music hall comedy number” the origins of “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)” was when Lennon was looking for a phone number in the phone book he saw sitting on McCartney’s piano.

McCartney explained:

“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.”

In 1988 he told Beatle historian Mark Lewisohn:

It’s probably my favorite 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!’

All four Beatles participated in most of the recording sessions, in addition to a saxophone part by Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones.

Although Lennon and McCartney weren’t getting along at the time, the engineers in the studio remember that for this song they sang together around one microphone.

The essence of this track is more in the individual and complementary character of the four Beatles than in any actual musical aspect of the track. Alan Pollack points to the clever evocation of “the Samba beat” in the arrangement, and the “atmosphere of a cheesy cabaret floor show in Paul’s crooning lead vocal and John’s clichéd Master of Ceremonies background chat.”

Professor Ken Womack described the song as a pastiche of lounge-style vocal stylings and Monty Pythonesque humor:

“From its soul-pounding blues introduction to the song’s swanky samba refrain, it is propelled in unforgettably comic ascent by Lennon’s hilarious falsetto vocals and the dappled chorus of grunts and mumbles that market the tune’s sizzling conclusions. It brilliantly captures the spirit of the Beatles remarkable pop music career: their personality, their willingness to experiment- to whatever results- and their irrepressible humanity.”
 

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