Released: 8 May 1970 (UK), 18 May 1970 (US)
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.
Lennon and McCartney shared the same microphone to sing the song, as captured in the Let It Be 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.
You and I have memories
Longer than the road that stretches out ahead
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.
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 McCartney said, “And so we leave the little town of London, England.”
The recording was the subject of a famous exchange between George Harrison and Paul McCartney, captured by cameras during the Let It Be filming:
Paul: It’s complicated now. We can get it simpler, and then complicate it where it needs complications.
George: It’s not complicated.
Paul: This one is like, shall we play guitars through Hey Jude… well, I don’t think we should.
George: OK, well I don’t mind. I’ll play, you know, whatever you want me to play, or I wont play at all if you don’t want to me to play. Whatever it is that will please you, I’ll do it.
The Beatles returned to the song 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 Let It Be 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.