You Know What To Do

Anthology 1 album artworkWritten by: Harrison
Recorded: 3 June 1964
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith

Released: 21 November 1995

George Harrison: vocals, rhythm guitar
John Lennon: tambourine
Paul McCartney: bass

Available on:
Anthology 1

George Harrison's second solo composition, You Know What To Do was recorded as a demo at Abbey Road on 3 June 1964, but was never properly attempted by The Beatles as a group.

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The Beatles had planned to record a 14th and final song for A Hard Day's Night that afternoon - the identity is unknown - but their plans were changed after Ringo was taken ill with tonsillitis and pharyngitis. Replacement drummer Jimmie Nicol was swiftly brought in for a rehearsal from 3-4pm, ahead of the group's imminent world tour, and afterwards the group recorded three demos.

At the beginning of a 5.30-9pm session they taped You Know What To Do, followed by two further demos: It's For You, a McCartney composition written for Cilla Black; and No Reply, which would appear on the Beatles For Sale album.

Although copyrighted the previous day by Jaep Music, a publishing company formed by Brian Epstein and Dick James, You Know What To Do remained unissued until 1995 when it was released on Anthology 1. Its existence was unknown until 1991, when evidence of the session came to light, and the misfiled tape was rediscovered in 1993.

You Know What To Do was George Harrison's second songwriting effort, after Don't Bother Me on With The Beatles. The precise line-up on the recording is uncertain; there has been speculation that Harrison recorded it alone, although it is more likely that Lennon and McCartney were also involved.

A somewhat slight composition, its reception by the others in the group, and George Martin, may have discouraged Harrison from offering further songs until Help! in 1965.

6 responses on “You Know What To Do

  1. Matt

    In addition to your lineup, Wikipedia lists Jimmy Nicol as having played drums on the recording. I don’t have the album on me, so I don’t know if there are actually drums or not.

    1. Joe Post author

      There’s a tambourine, but it’s far from certain that Nicol was playing it. There are no drums, though.

      It’s been suggested (notably in Revolution In The Head) that Harrison may have recorded the demo alone, playing all the instruments. It’s almost impossible to be certain, though, given that little is known about it (and George isn’t around anymore).

      Incidentally, in the liner notes for Anthology 1 Mark Lewisohn says that, although there are drums on the demo of the No Reply demo (recorded on the same day), neither Starr nor Nicol was present. My guess is that Jimmy left after the live rehearsals. It could have been one of the studio staff playing drums on No Reply – engineer Norman Smith is said to have been a fairly adept percussionist.

  2. Julie

    As for that “No Reply’ demo. As a musician and beatles obsessive fan I make this observation. It’s Johns demo so it only makes sense he’d play guitar and sing and you hear Paul singing and playing bass.

    George is not heard doing anything else… and the drumming sounds like somebody who can’t play very well (at least at that point in time) If I didn’t know better I’d say that was Pete Best.. lol cause it’s so shaky and basic. :-P

    So yeah… it’s George. HIS excuse was… he’s a guitar player and not a drummer. hehe

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