Sunday, August 16, 2009

You Know What to Do

Now, here's a weird little choice for a HarriSunday. "You Know What to Do" came to light for really the first time on its release on Anthology 1-- due to a filing error, I don't think it was ever even really bootlegged before then, but Lord knows someone should leap in and correct me stat if that's wrong.

According to what we know of the song (and thanks to the Beatles Bible for filling in the gaps in my memory here, especially since I can't find my Anthology liner notes at the moment), it was recorded in this demo format in June of 1964, on the same day as the first recording of "No Reply" and of a song that Paul had written for Cilla Black. This would have made it the second song George ever wrote, displacing either of the songs on Help! for that title. Or at least the second song that George brought to the band. Since nothing seems to have been done with this one after the demo recording, and since it ended up being another year before the world heard another HarriSong, it seems safe to say that "You Know What to Do" wasn't received very well. Heck, maybe George himself didn't like it that much.

And you know, that's fair, because it's pretty slight. Though not fatally so, in my opinion. The slightness rests in the very small-range melody (this would have been singable even by Ringo) combined with the conventional chords. I just feel like, in a pop song, either the melody or the chords needs to be a bit more interesting than this, ideally. But that's okay, George. And actually, there's something to that middle eight-- there's some meat in there. It's the best part of the song.

This could have totally gone onto some other pop star's album in 1964 and wouldn't have felt out of place, in my mind, but I guess it might not have been considered strong enough for the Beatles. It sounds like a Buddy Holly doodle more than anything to my ear, but of course that's partly just because it sounds like a demo. It's hard to say how it might have been recorded this had they actually committed to doing so. As is, we can hear it as an interesting step George's development as a songwriter. Obviously better things were down the road, but the odd "You Know What to Do" has got to be written in order to get to the good stuff.

"You Know What to Do," released in the U.K. and the U.S. disc 2 track 19 of Anthology 1, November 20, 1995.


  1. Lol. Poor George. He must have felt such pressure at that young age. The song isn't that bad really. You know, when you listen to early demos of some Paul/John songs they sound different as well, eg. "I'll Follow The Sun". But Paul and John were much more clever song writers during the Beatles years. Thanx for posting that. Bill

  2. Never heard this before. Thanks, Meg. It's not bad, and as you pointed out, demos are demos, and a song can really change dramatically for the better once it's in the studio with all hands taking part.

    I'm not sure where i read it - it might have been in one of your posts - but there's a quote from George Martin saying he wished he'd spent more time working with GH.

    So much energy and interest and effort was put into Paul's and John's stuff, that George was rather left behind. Still, his best stands up there with some of the Beatles best --- like Something, Here Comes the Sun. AND there's no underestimating his contributions as a guitarist and harmony singer on the Beatles canon.