Day 273: “You Know What to Do”

When was it recorded?   Jun. 3, 1964

When was it first released, and on which album?   Nov. 20, 1995 on “Anthology 1”

Who wrote it?   Harrison

Have I heard this song before?   No

What my research dug up:

“A simple love song for a change,” “You Know What to Do” was George’s second composition for the Beatles (quote from Hammond). His first song, “Don’t Bother Me,” was recorded in 1963 and his third song, “I Need You,” was recorded in 1965, leaving quite the gap in his output when “You Know What to Do” failed to make any album cuts. George Martin took credit for the gap, telling The Beatles Off the Record in 1965 that George Harrison “got discouraged some time ago when none of us liked something that he had written.”

Writer Ian Hammond called “You Know What to Do” “a little bit Buddy Holly, a little bit [country and western].” He also pointed out, “In the last verse [George] changes the opening bit of the verse melody slightly, suggesting that he wasn’t quite sure which way to take it.”

The verse change is understandable because the only recorded version of “You Know What to Do” was a demo. According to the Beatles Bible, the Fab Four had planned to record an additional song for “A Hard Day’s Night” on Jun. 3, 1964 (what that song was, we do not know). However, that morning Ringo came down with tonsillitis and pharyngitis (inflammation of the throat). This was mostly an issue because the Beatles were supposed to begin their world tour the next day.

Quoth Wikipedia, “The original session booked for that day was cancelled so that a replacement drummer, Jimmie Nicol, could be brought in and rehearse with the band. After running through six songs in a one-hour rehearsal in Abbey Road Studio Two, everyone felt satisfied with Nicol’s drumming, and he left to pack his suitcase.” After Nicol left, Paul, John and George each ran through a new song they had written. Paul had “It’s For You” (written specifically for Cilla Black), John had “No Reply” (which I talked about on Day 176), and George had “You Know What to Do.” According to the Beatles Bible, while some biographers believe George recorded the track alone, “it is more likely that Lennon and McCartney were also involved.”

I spy a number of “complete” versions in my YouTube search results. I’m not sure I trust any of those to be the real deal, but if you’re curious there’s digging you can do.

“You Know What to Do” was copyrighted by Brian Epstein’s company, Jaep Music… and promptly misfiled. Seriously, no one knew this tape existed until 1991, and even then no one could find the tape until 1993. It then appeared on 1995’s “Anthology 1.”

According to Wikipedia, “After ‘Anthology 1’ was released, Harrison was asked about the song and he said he did not even remember its existence.”  Fair enough — it’s short.  It’s sweet.  I think it’s a nice song, but it’s pretty forgettable.





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