The Beatles Songs: "You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)"

The history of this classic Beatles song

The original US 45 sleeve for "You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)".

You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)

Written by: Paul McCartney (50%), John Lennon (50%) (credited as Lennon-McCartney)
Recorded: May 17, June 7 and 8, 1967; April 30, 1969 (Studio 2, Abbey Road Studios, London, England)
Mixed: June 7 and 8, 1967; April 30, November 26, 1969
Length: 4:19
Takes: 30
Musicians: John Lennon: lead vocals, rhythm guitar (1965 Epiphone E230TD(V) Casino), maracas, sound effects
Paul McCartney: lead vocals, bass guitar (1964 Fender Bass VI), double (acoustic) bass, piano (Alfred E.

Knight), sound effects
George Harrison: rhythm guitar (1961 Sonic Blue Fender Stratocaster), vibraphone
Ringo Starr: drums (1963 Ludwig Black Oyster Pearl), bongos
Brian Jones: alto saxophone
Mal Evans: spade in gravel
First released: March 6, 1970 (UK: Apple R5833), March 11, 1970 (US: Apple 2764); b-side of "Let It Be"
Available on: (CDs in bold)

  • Past Masters Volume Two, (Parlophone CDP 7 90044 2)


The most bizarre official Beatles track released during the band's lifetime, "You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)" was written by John after he spotted a telephone book at Paul's home in the Spring of 1967 sporting the catchphrase "You know their name -- look up their number." John created the original chord sequence on piano, which he later described as a homage of sorts to the Four Tops, and Paul helped him develop the song into four distinct sections, each one variations on the same theme.

John had apparently decided that the title phrase -- the only real words in the song -- should be repeated "like a mantra."

The second section of the song, often referred to as "Slaggers," features the band breaking into a light samba (helped along by longtime associate Mal Evans, who manipulated a shovel in a pail of gravel to get the proper rhythmic effect) and Paul crooning the chorus in the manner of a cheesy cocktail lounge singer.

At the beginning of the section, John ad-libs "Good evening and welcome to Slaggers, featuring Dennis O'Bell." At the end, he talks Paul off the "stage."

The third section is often referred to as the "Goon Show" section, as its goofy British music-hall flavor recalls the antics of a native radio show of the same name which ran from 1951-1960. The show, which featured Peter Sellers, was an obvious precursor to the Monty Python TV show, which has led some fans to believe the Pythons the true inspiration for this section. Yet the troupe didn't appear on telly until the band had effectively broken up.

The final section is a return to the lounge setting, but with a jazz shuffle feel. Rather than repeat the lyrics, John and Paul instead indulge in a series of increasingly comical grunts and groans. The Rolling Stones' Brian Jones, present in the studio on June 8th, comes in with a genre-specific alto sax solo. At the end of the track, John can be heard belching loudly.

The original backing track for the first section was laid down in May 1967 during work on the seminal Sgt. Pepper album, requiring 16 takes. In June of that year, fourteen additional takes produced the other three sections. (The song was also performed on January 14, 1969, during the rehearsals for the "Get Back"/Let It Be project.

Vocals, however, weren't recorded until April 30, 1969, when John and Paul set aside their increasing differences and performed all the vocals in one take into the same microphone, finally completing the song for release as the b-side of the group's new single ("Let It Be," completed at the same session). Finally, John edited the song from the original 6:18 length -- which included a fifth section -- to a single-length 4:19.


  • Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention's song "America Drinks and Goes Home" (1967), The Rolling Stones' "On With the Show" (1967) and Jimi Hendrix' "My Friend" (1968) have all been cited as cocktail-lounge parodies that might have influenced "You Know My Name."
  • Although John says "Come on Ringo, let's hear it for Dennis," Ringo was not present in the studio that day -- this was clearly a Lennonesque joke. Some have mistaken the "lounge" vocal and the final burp as Ringo's.
  • The name "Dennis O'Dell" is a (possibly unconscious) reference to Dennis O'Bell, associate producer of the band's 1964 film A Hard Day's Night. When "You Know My Name" was released, fans looked up O'Bell's number and called him at all hours of the day.
  • Paul has often referred to this as one of his favorite Beatles songs, due in part to its spontaneity and freewheeling nature. John, himself going through an avant-garde phase around this time, originally intended to release this as a Plastic Ono Band single, backed with "What's the New Mary Jane," an unlistenable tune knocked off by the band during the "White Album" sessions. A deceptive press release and official Apple catalog number were even prepared for this idea before the other Beatles nixed it.
  • This was the last officially released Beatles song to make it to an album, finally appearing on Rarities in 1980. It is also one of only four Beatles songs -- along with "Love Me Do," "I'll Get You" and "She Loves You" -- to have never been released in stereo in its original form (a longer version is available in stereo on Anthology 2, but does not include some parts of the released version).
  • The original US single gets one word wrong in the title, listing it as "You Know My Name (Look Up My Number)."

Covered by: Pearl Jam