As a songwriting unit, John Lennon and Paul McCartney had amassed a solid set of originals before they departed to Germany to begin their various club residencies in the early 1960s. Some of these songs became well known after the Fab Four hit it big – McCartney’s ‘A World Without Love’ was given to Peter and Gordon, while ‘One After 909’ was later resurrected during the Get Back sessions.
But there was one early song that Lennon wrote while the group were still teenagers in Liverpool. That would be ‘I Call Your Name’, the jaunty rock tune that appeared as the one original song of the band’s UK exclusive Long Tall Sally EP. In America, ‘I Call Your Name’ was an album track on the LP The Beatles’ Second Album.
“That was my song,” Lennon recalled in 1980. “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.”
Even though Lennon recalled it as exclusively his, McCartney remembered contributing to the song as well, making a connection to Lennon’s less-than savoury childhood. “We worked on it together, but it was John’s idea,” McCartney said in Barry Miles’ Many Years From Now. “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.”
‘I Call Your Name’ remained a relatively obscure Beatles track for a number of years before the release of Past Masters officially added it to the core of the band’s catalogue.
Lennon originally gave it to Billy J. Kramer to record, but Lennon was unsatisfied with the results. Instead, The Beatles’ take on the song was proposed for inclusion on A Hard Day’s Night, but the band opted to go with the cowbell-heavy ‘You Can’t Do That’ instead.
Check out ‘I Call Your Name’ down below.