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The Beatles Songs: I Call Your Name

The history of this classic Beatles song


The Beatles Songs: I Call Your Name

A Finnish 45 of "I Call Your Name"


I Call Your Name

Written by: John Lennon (100%)
(credited to Lennon-McCartney)

Recorded: March 1, 1964 (Studio 2, Abbey Road Studios, London, England)
Mixed: March 3-4 and 10, June 4 and 22, 1964
Length: 2:09
Takes: 7


John Lennon: rhythm guitar (1964 Rickenbacker 325)
Paul McCartney: lead vocals, bass guitar (1961 Hofner 500/1)
George Harrison: lead guitar (1964 Rickenbacker "Fire-glo" 360-12)
Ringo Starr: drums (Ludwig), cowbell

Available on: (CDs in bold)

  • The Beatles' Second Album, (US: Capitol (S)T 2080, Capitol CDP 7243 8 66877 2 2)
  • Long Tall Sally (EP), (UK: Parlophone GEP 8913)
  • Past Masters Volume 1, (UK: Parlophone CDP 7 90043 2, US: Capitol CDP 7 90043 2)


    • "I Call Your Name" was the first song John Lennon ever wrote -- or, at the very least, among the first, as Lennon himself claims it was written just after he purchased his first guitar in May of 1957. Perhaps because it was an early song, he never considered it for release as a Beatles song in the band's earlier days, but when manager Brian Epstein asked Lennon and McCartney for four new songs for another act of his, Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, the songwriting duo obliged. First, in 1963, they offered up "Do You Want To Know A Secret," later revived on Please Please Me when George needed a spotlight vocal, and "I’ll Be On My Way," never recorded by the Beatles. A year later, Epstein asked for two more, and the duo came up with two songs from their pre-fame days: "Bad to Me" and "I Call Your Name." The latter had never been completed in John's formative years, but Paul recalls working on it at John's Menlove Avenue home; although Paul implies they wrote the entire song together, it was almost certainly the bridge alone that was added.
    • On March 1, 1964, the band entered Abbey Road Studios one last time to come up with songs for their upcoming debut film, A Hard Day's Night. Another George vocal was cut -- "I'm Happy Just to Dance With You," also written by John -- as well as a number that had long been in their live repertoire, Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally." Finally, "I Call Your Name" was recorded in seven takes. The section featuring George's solo was edited in from take 5, and it was a true anomaly, a "deliberate and conscious," in Lennon's words, attempt to emulate the ska craze just beginning to break in Britain.
    • Lennon was miffed at the fact that Kramer (or someone) had relegated his song to a mere b-side (of "Bad to Me"), and perhaps because of that, decided to copy the arrangement of Kramer's version in both the intro and George's guitar solo. He can be heard rationalizing his decision on the session tapes: "It's our song anyroad, innit?"
    • This was the last song completed for the film, though it was never used, instead relegated to release on the US-only LP The Beatles' Second Album and, months later, the UK-only EP Long Tall Sally. The very next day, filming on A Hard Day's Night began on a train leaving from London's Paddington Station; George found himself entranced by one of the models hired to play a passenger, one Miss Pattie Boyd.
    • Paul has, in recent years, intrigued some fans with the idea that "I Call Your Name" may have been subconsciously written about John's abandonment issues, triggered by the departure of his father Alfred and the death of his mother, Julia. However, John's mother was killed in a car wreck after the song was completed, so this interpretation seems unlikely.
    • Because the song was considered for inclusion in the film and almost immediately rejected, only a mono mix was made for the UK originally; when it was decided to release it on the Long Tall Sally EP, a second stereo mix was made months later. It was this second mix George Martin chose to include on the Rock 'n' Roll Music compilation in 1976, and it has since become the standard stereo mix. Both stereo mixes feature a different guitar intro than mono, though the second stereo mix brings the cowbell in late, after John's first line. The cowbell pops up in different places during the solo, depending on the mix. The new standard stereo mix has a centered vocal, while the original vocal was located in the right channel.
    • This is only the second song, after "I Should Have Known Better," to feature the sound of George's new Rickenbacker 12-string.
    • Along with two other songs recorded at the Hard Day's Night session, "I Call Your Name" makes up what is known as John's "Cowbell Trilogy," three songs written mostly by Lennon that featured Ringo on cowbell. The others are the title track and the similar-sounding "You Can't Do That." (The similar-sounding "When I Get Home" keeps the same rhythm as "I Call Your Name" and "You Can't Do That," but without the cowbell.) The group would use cowbell sparingly after this, most notably on "Drive My Car" and "Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey."
    • Ringo Starr recorded a solo cover along with Joe Walsh, Tom Petty, and Jeff Lynne for charity in 1990. The Mamas and the Papas cover, a minor hit, features Michelle Phillips whispering "John," either in relation to husband John or to Lennon, or both.
    BBC appearances: 1 (for the radio program Saturday Club

    Covered by: Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, The Mamas and the Papas, The Buckinghams, Carney/Hild/Kramer, O-Positive, Renato and his Blue Caps, William Tay

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