Released: 10 July 1964 (UK), 20 July 1964 (US)
Things We Said Today was written in May 1964, on board a yacht called Happy Days, during McCartney’s holiday in the Virgin Islands with his girlfriend Jane Asher, plus Ringo Starr and his future wife Maureen.
I remember writing Things We Said Today in one of the cabins below deck one afternoon on my acoustic guitar. I got away from the main party but it was a bit queasy downstairs; you could smell the oil and the boat was rocking a bit and I’m not the best sailor in the world, so I wrote a little bit of it downstairs and then the rest of it on the back deck where you couldn’t smell the engine. I don’t know why the engine was on, I suppose we were moving.
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles
Musically, the song’s mood belies it’s sunny origins: it is rooted in A minor, and only strays into a major key for the brief middle section.
The similarly melancholy lyrics reflected McCartney’s knowledge that his and Asher’s lifestyles would increasingly drive them apart – although they stayed together until July 1968, and in December 1967 announced their engagement.
It was a slightly nostalgic thing already, a future nostalgia: we’ll remember the things we said today, sometime in the future, so the song projects itself into the future and then is nostalgic about the moment we’re living in now, which is quite a good trick. It has interesting chords.
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles
The Beatles recorded Things We Said Today twice for BBC radio. The first was on 14 July 1964 at London’s Broadcasting House, for the Top Gear programme. This version, which was first broadcast two days later, was released in 1994 on the Live At The BBC collection.
The second performance took place on 17 July at the BBC Paris Studio, London. It was recorded for the From Us To You programme, which was first broadcast on 3 August.
The song briefly became a part of The Beatles’ live repertoire following its release. The group played it during their tours of the US and Canada in August and September 1964, although it disappeared shortly afterwards. George Harrison sang harmony vocals on these live versions.
In the studio
The Beatles recorded Things We Said Today on 2 June 1964, at Abbey Road’s Studio Two. It took the group just three takes to get right.
The first take was a false start, the second was complete, and the third consisted of overdubs of McCartney’s second vocal part, John Lennon’s piano and Ringo Starr’s tambourine.
McCartney double tracked his vocals, occasionally providing harmony, but mostly singing in unison with himself.
John Lennon’s piano part was meant to be omitted from the final mix, but lack of separation between instruments meant that its sound leaked into other microphones during recording. As a result it can be heard on the released version.
Things We Said Today was first released on 10 July 1964. On that day Parlophone issued the A Hard Day’s Night album and single in the UK. The song was on the second side of both releases, which were both chart toppers.
It was also included on the EP Extracts From The Album A Hard Day’s Night, which was released on 6 November 1964.
In the US it first appeared on the album Something New, which was released on 20 July 1964.