The Beatles, ‘From Me to You’ – Lyrics Uncovered
In Feb. 1963, John Lennon and Paul McCartney were sitting in the back of a tour bus, seeing if they could rise to the occasion. With ‘Please Please Me’ riding high on the British charts, producer George Martin had issued the Beatles’ budding songwriters a challenge: bring a new composition of equal quality to their next studio session.
Lennon and McCartney had penned ‘Thank You Girl’ at this point, but weren’t opposed to seeing if they could come up with something stronger. On Feb. 28, inspiration struck on the way to Shewsbury.
“The night Paul and I wrote ‘From Me to You,’ we were on the Helen Shapiro tour, on the coach, travelling from York to Shrewsbury,” Lennon remembered in 'Anthology.’ “We weren't taking ourselves seriously – just fooling around on the guitar – when we began to get a good melody line, and we really started to work at it. Before that journey was over, we'd completed the lyric, everything. I think the first line was mine and we took it from there.
“What puzzled us was why we'd thought of a name like ‘From Me to You.’ It had me thinking when I picked up the ‘NME’ to see how we were doing in the charts. Then I realized – we’d got the inspiration from reading a copy on the coach. Paul and I had been talking about one of the letters in the From You to Us column.”
Although Lennon and McCartney thought they had something worthwhile, not everyone on the bus agreed. Singer Kenny Lynch (also on the Helen Shapiro tour) tried to assist the boys with their writing, but gave up on them after hearing them put in a falsetto “Whoo!” "You can’t do that! You’ll sound like f---ing fairies," he shouted. Of course, those high-pitched “whoos” would become an early trademark that the Fab Four employed again when composing their next hit single, ‘She Loves You.’
The Beatles recorded ‘From Me to You’ on March 5, five days after writing the song. Although there were some misgivings about the song being “too bluesy,” Martin seemed to get everything in shape by beginning the tune with the boys singing the opening lick and adding in Lennon’s harmonica (another early Beatles trademark). But although it's a simplistic "moon/June" teenage pop lyric, the Beatles employed a device of making their early songs “personal,” which served them well in the early days.
“There was a little trick we developed early on and got bored with later, which was to put 'I,' 'Me' or 'You' in it, so it was very direct and personal: ‘Love Me Do’; ‘Please Please Me’; ‘From Me to You’ – we got two of them in there...,” McCartney would reveal later. Although written in the first-person, ‘From Me to You’ doesn't feature one lead singer; Lennon and McCartney sing in tandem throughout.
‘From Me to You’ was released as a single, backed by ‘Thank You Girl,’ on April 11 in the U.K. and began a seven-week reign at No. 1 on May 2. It was released shortly after in the U.S., although it didn't get much attention until Beatlemania was in full force in 1964. A cover version by Del Shannon was actually slightly more successful.
McCartney later reflected that writing the song marked a significant step for his partnership: “The thing I liked about ‘From Me to You’ was it had a very complete middle. It went to a surprising place,” he said in Barry Miles’ ‘Many Years From Now.’ The opening chord of the middle section of that song heralded a new batch for me. That was a pivotal song. Our songwriting lifted a little with that song.”
Listen to the Beatles’ ‘From Me to You’