One of John Lennon’s earliest compositions, ‘I Call Your Name’ was the only Lennon-McCartney original on the Long Tall Sally EP. It was likely held off the A Hard Day’s Night album due to the similar use of cowbell in ‘You Can’t Do That’.
‘I Call Your Name’ was given first to Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas, another Brian Epstein-managed act, who released it as the b-side to their single ‘Bad To Me’, another Lennon-McCartney song, in July 1963.
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.
All We Are Saying, David Sheff
Musically, ‘I Call Your Name’ is perhaps most interesting for its guitar solo, during which The Beatles fall into a ska rhythm. Lennon in particular particularly loved ska and reggae in later years, although in 1964 it was largely unknown outside Jamaica.
According to Paul McCartney, ‘I Call Your Name’ was written in Lennon’s aunt Mimi’s house in Menlove Avenue, Liverpool.
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 analysing things.
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles
In the studio
‘I Call Your Name’ was the second song of the day to be taped. Why the group decided to resurrect the song almost a year after Billy J Kramer had recorded it is unknown, but John Lennon was captured by the studio microphones before take one, asking: “Do you think it’s a bit much doing Billy J’s intro and solo? ’Cause it’s our song anyroad, innit?”
The Beatles recorded the song in seven takes. Another Lennon vocal and cowbell by Ringo Starr was added to the last of these, and the ska section was later edited in from take five.