“I Call Your Name” is a song recorded by the Beatles and credited to Lennon–McCartney. It was written primarily by John Lennon, but Paul McCartney also worked on it. It was released in the US on The Beatles’ Second Album on 16 May 1964 and in the UK on the Long Tall Sally EP on 19 June 1964.
Lennon wrote the song prior to the formation of the Beatles. In 1963, he gave it to Billy J. Kramer of The Dakotas, another Liverpool band who were signed to Parlophone by George Martin. Kramer released it as the B-side of the single “Bad to Me”, another Lennon–McCartney composition.
Lennon was reportedly dissatisfied with the Dakotas’ arrangement of his song as well as its position as the single’s B-side, so the Beatles recorded their own version. The song features George Harrison playing the Rickenbacker 360/12 guitar, offering the distinctive sound of the famous guitar to the world for the first time.
Due to the song being considered for inclusion in the Beatles’ 1964 debut film A Hard Day’s Night, a rush mono mix for United Artists was attempted on 3 March 1964, but would be ultimately scrapped. The following day, a new mono mix was made for the US Capitol Records release The Beatles’ Second Album, while a stereo mix edited from two separate takes would be performed on 10 March 1964 and was also rushed to the US for the stereo version of the album. The edit uses an alternate take of the opening guitar riff and the opening line sung by Lennon. The final UK mono mix was performed on 4 June 1964, intended for the A Hard Day’s Night LP, again scrapped but ultimately appearing on the EP Long Tall Sally. The final UK stereo mix, performed on 22 June 1964, three days after the release of the Long Tall Sally EP, and also intended for the upcoming stereo version of the UK album, would not appear on a British release until the 1976 Rock ‘n’ Roll Music compilation (along with the remaining tracks from the Long Tall Sally EP). The song was never added to the 1964 film A Hard Day’s Night because director Richard Lester rejected it for sounding too similar to “You Can’t Do That”, which was recorded five days prior and featured on the non-soundtrack side of the album release.
The mono mixes feature cowbell from the start of the rhythm downbeat. The UK stereo edit features no cowbell and has Lennon’s vocal single tracked until edited at the second measure of the opening verse, when the cowbell and double tracked vocal appear. The earlier US stereo mix places the edit on the word “call”, and the double tracking and cowbell begin. It also features vocals more prominent to the right, with the UK version better centered, plus a significant addition of reverb by the producers of The Beatles’ Second Album.
The song’s instrumental bridge is the Beatles’ first attempt at ska.
“I Call Your Name” was re-released in stereo in 1988 on the compilation album Past Masters.
The Beatles recorded the song for the BBC radio programme Saturday Club on 31 March 1964 (transmitted 4 April 1964). However, this performance has not been commercially released.
John Lennon – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Paul McCartney – bass guitar
George Harrison – 12 string lead guitar
Ringo Starr – drums, cowbell
George Martin – producer
Norman Smith – engineer