You Know What to Do

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"You Know What to Do"
Song by the Beatles
from the album Anthology 1
Released20 November 1995
Recorded3 June 1964,
EMI Studios, London
Songwriter(s)George Harrison
Producer(s)George Martin

"You Know What to Do" was one of the first songs written and recorded by George Harrison with the Beatles. It was recorded on 3 June 1964 but remained unreleased until its inclusion on the band's 1995 outtakes compilation Anthology 1.


During a photographic assignment on the morning of 3 June 1964, Ringo Starr was taken ill with tonsillitis and pharyngitis, 24 hours before the Beatles were due to leave for a six-country tour;[1] the recording session booked for that day was originally intended to produce a fourteenth song for the band's A Hard Day's Night album, but this activity was cancelled so that a replacement drummer, Jimmie Nicol, could be brought in and rehearse with the group. After running through six songs in a one-hour rehearsal in EMI's Studio Two,[1] everyone felt satisfied with Nicol's drumming, so he left to pack his suitcase.[2]

That evening, in a four-hour session in Studio Two, each of the three present Beatles recorded a demo of a newly written song. Harrison recorded "You Know What to Do"; John Lennon did "No Reply", which eventually ended up as the opening track of their next album, Beatles for Sale; and Paul McCartney did "It's for You", a song which was written specifically for Cilla Black to sing; the tape of the session was subsequently misfiled, but was rediscovered in 1993.[2]

Harrison's first contribution to the Beatles' output was "Don't Bother Me", recorded in September 1963,[3] his next contribution was not until "I Need You", recorded in February 1965.[4] Asked about this gap in 1964, and referring obliquely to "You Know What to Do", George Martin explained that Harrison "got discouraged some time ago when none of us liked something that he had written".[5]

Musical structure[edit]

The song is in the key of A major. After an introduction in D chord on the guitar the verse begins in A (I) on "When I see you I just don't know what to say" ending that line with E (V); the verse also features a D (IV) chord. Pedler cites the song as an example of how "one of The Beatles' greatest contributions to pop songwriting was their skill in combining the familiarity of simple I-IV-V sequences with dramatically new harmonic material..."[6] The bridge features an '8-7-flat7-6' glide in consecutive semitones down the chromatic scale, a device also used in "Michelle", "Cry Baby Cry", "Got To Get You into My Life", "And Your Bird Can Sing" and "Mother Nature's Son".[7]



  1. ^ a b Lewisohn 1988, p. 45.
  2. ^ a b Lewisohn 1995, pp. 40-41.
  3. ^ Lewisohn 1988, pp. 35-36.
  4. ^ Lewisohn 1988, p. 54.
  5. ^ Unterberger 2006, p. 96.
  6. ^ Pedler, Dominic (2003). Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles. Omnibus Press. pp. 39–40.
  7. ^ Dominic Pedler. Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles. Omnibus Press. 2003. pp311-314

External links[edit]