We were on tour with Roy Orbison [sic] at the time we wrote this. We were all on the same tour bus, and it would stop somewhere so that people could go for a cup of tea and a meal, and John and I would have a cup of tea and then go back to the bus and write something. It was a special image to me, at twenty-one, to be walking down the aisle of the bus and there on the back seat of the bus is Roy Orbison, in black with his dark glasses, working on his guitar, writing ‘Pretty Woman’. There was a camaraderie, and we were inspiring each other, which is always a lovely thing. He played the music for us, and we said, ‘That’s a good one, Roy. Great.’ And then we’d say, ‘Well, listen to this one,’ and we’d play him ‘From Me To You’. That was kind of a historic moment, as it turned out.
The Lyrics: 1956 To The Present
McCartney’s recollection of the song’s genesis is incorrect. The Beatles toured with Roy Orbison in May and June 1963, and ‘From Me To You’ was recorded in March and released the following month. The song was actually written while the band were on tour with Helen Shapiro.
The song was inspired by From You To Us, the letters section of the New Musical Express, though Lennon and McCartney didn’t realise it at the time.
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. 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 realised – 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.
Roger Greenaway of The Kestrels, one of the other acts on the Helen Shapiro tour, later recounted the genesis of From Me To You.
The Beatles at this time had had their first number one, and John and Paul were writing songs at the back of the coach. Kenny Lynch, who, at this time, fancied himself as a songwriter, sauntered up to the back of the coach and decided he would help John and Paul write a song. After a period of about half an hour had elapsed and nothing seemed to be coming from the back, Kenny rushed to the front of the coach and shouted, ‘Well, that’s it. I am not going to write any more of that bloody rubbish with those idiots. They don’t know the music from their backsides. That’s it! No more help from me!’ The song that John and Paul were writing at this time was a track called From Me To You.
Although she had missed the tour for the previous two nights due to illness, Helen Shapiro rejoined as the headline act on this night. Billie Davis, who had stood in for her in Taunton and York, left the tour.
Also on this day...
- 1972: US single release: Give Ireland Back To The Irish by Wings
- 1970: Mixing: For You Blue
- 1967: Recording: Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
- 1965: Filming: Help!, the Bahamas
- 1964: Radio: From Us To You
- 1962: Live: Cavern Club, Liverpool (evening)
- 1961: Live: Litherland Town Hall, Liverpool
- 1961: Live: Cassanova Club, Liverpool
- 1961: Live: Cavern Club, Liverpool (lunchtime)
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.