The opening song on The Beatles’ final album, ‘Two Of Us’ was written by Paul McCartney about his fondness for getting deliberately lost in the country with his future wife Linda.
One of the great things about Linda was that while I was driving and going, ‘Oh my God, I think I’m lost,’ she’d simply say, ‘Great!’ She loved getting lost. And she pointed out to me quite rightly that there would always be a sign somewhere saying ‘London’, so we’d just follow that.
One day we went out into the countryside and found a little wood that looked as if it might be a good place for a walk. I parked the car. There’s a photograph of me in the Aston Martin, sitting with the driver’s door open and my feet out. I’ve got my guitar. That’s me writing ‘Two Of Us’.
The Lyrics: 1956 To The Present
During the Let It Be sessions McCartney and John Lennon sometimes shared the same microphone to sing the song, as captured in the 1970 film. Indeed, the middle sections contain likely references to their relationship, with both acutely aware that their time as members of The Beatles was drawing to a close.
Lying behind the phrase ‘We’re on our way home’ is less the literal sense of going back to London, but more about trying to get in touch with the people we once were. The postcard sending does have a very literal feel, though. Whenever Linda and I went away, we would buy lots of postcards and send them to all our friends. John was also a great postcard sender, so you’d get some great stuff from him.
The Lyrics: 1956 To The Present
‘Two Of Us’ is also thought to contain a reference to The Beatles’ business troubles with Apple, in the line “You and me chasing paper, getting nowhere”. The song displays the relief felt by McCartney at being able to leave these troubles behind and enjoy uncomplicated moments with Linda.
As a kid I loved getting lost. I would say to my father – let’s get lost. But you could never seem to be able to get really lost. All signs would eventually lead back to New York or wherever we were staying! Then, when I moved to England to be with Paul, we would put Martha in the back of the car and drive out of London. As soon as we were on the open road I’d say, ‘Let’s get lost’ and we’d keep driving without looking at any signs. Hence the line in the song, ‘Two of us going nowhere’.
Paul wrote ‘Two Of Us’ on one of those days out. It’s about us. We just pulled off in a wood somewhere and parked the car. I went off walking while Paul sat in the car and started writing. He also mentions the postcards because we used to send a lot of postcards to each other.
A Hard Day’s Write, Steve Turner
McCartney offered the song to Mortimer, a New York trio, to be issued by Apple as their début single in June 1969. However, it remained unreleased and Mortimer never became Apple recording artists.
In the studio
The Beatles recorded ‘Two Of Us’ properly over three sessions, although it was played less seriously on a number of other dates. The first of the sessions took place on 24 January 1969, under the working title ‘On Our Way Home’.
The group recorded several takes of the song, although these were unnumbered and somewhat ad-hoc. In between takes they also busked through versions of ‘Teddy Boy’ and ‘Maggie Mae’.
According to Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn, one of the day’s takes was later selected for inclusion on the aborted Get Back LP, along with a snippet of speech in which Paul McCartney said: “And so we leave the little town of London, England.”
The Beatles returned to ‘Two Of Us’ for almost all the remaining January 1969 sessions, but it wasn’t until the 31st that they taped the version which ended up on Let It Be. It was remixed by Phil Spector for the album on 25 March 1970.
John Lennon’s introduction (“‘I Dig A Pygmy’ by Charles Hawtrey and the Deaf Aids. Phase one, in which Doris gets her oats”) – spoken during the 21 January session at Apple Studios – was added later, from a tape of studio chatter assembled on 27 March 1970.
It sounds like John says ‘I ain’t dig a pygmie’ I know it doesn’t make sense but I hear another sound between ‘I’ and ‘dig’. But John always did play with words.