Two Of Us

Let It Be album artworkWritten by: Lennon-McCartney
Recorded: 24, 25, 31 January 1969
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Glyn Johns

Released: 8 May 1970 (UK), 18 May 1970 (US)

Paul McCartney: vocals, acoustic guitar, whistling
John Lennon: vocals, acoustic guitar, whistling
George Harrison: lead guitar
Ringo Starr: drums

Available on:
Let It Be
Anthology 3
Let It Be... Naked

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.

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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.

Linda McCartney
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 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.
Let It Be

They returned to the song for almost all the remaining January 1969 sessions, but it wasn't until the 31st that The Beatles 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.

43 responses on “Two Of Us

  1. steve kirkaldy

    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.

    1. Manfred the Bejewled Paisley Kumquat

      i had heard the word “I” being dragged out and down in pitch, like “I-ya dig a pygmy” as if he was sort of an announcer at a three ring circus talking in a stylized way.

      wonder what paul or ringo would say?

    1. Joaco

      Yes, one of my favorites… by the way, anyone else finds a resemblance between the melody of John’s whistling here at the end and the “heba heba hello” coda in Hello Goodbye?

      1. Ric

        Is it a Tele?? it does look like a Telecaster but it also looks and most of all sounds like a Fender VI Bass which was very popular at the time and had that very peculiar sound.

        1. Tom B.

          OK I did some research on this. If you watch the live studio performance from ‘Let It Be’, you can clearly see that George is playing a bass line on a Fender Telecaster Baritone guitar. It does SOUND like a Fender Bass VI, but it’s a Telecaster Baritone Guitar. If you look up photos of both instruments online, you’ll see that I’m right.

  2. 2fs

    I’ve always been dubious about the “bass” part on this song. First, the claim that it’s not a bass but an electric guitar: maybe…but it sounds an awful lot like higher-register bass playing to me. And second: Specifically, it sounds an awful lot like *Paul*’s higher-register bass playing. It definitely doesn’t sound like a part George would write – and it most certainly doesn’t sound like a part George would improvise.

    Anyway: what’s the source for the claim that that’s George, on an electric guitar?

    1. Tom B.

      If you watch the clip, and compare the Fender Bass VI, with the Fender Telecaster Baritone guitar, you’ll see that George is indeed playing the bass line on a Telecaster Baritone guitar.

  3. DB

    All is well that ends well. George’s lead in this song, I think, is one of his best as a Beatle. And getting the bass sound from his guitar shows once again how good (and important) he was at getting the right sound–for himself and the group.

  4. DB

    All is well that ends well. One of George’s best and most creative leads as a Beatle in my opinion. The bass-like sound complements very nicely (and does not step on) the nice acoustic playing of Paul and John. It is another example of one of George’s great contributions to the Beatles: knowing the right sound for a song.

  5. 6olden5lumber

    It’s not Paul and John whistling, it’s just John, while Paul says: “We’re going home… we better be leaving… goodbye.”
    And YES, IT IS George playing the bassline on electric guitar.

    1. Wheniwasyounger

      I always thought Paul said “You’d better believe it” which I took to mean ‘Yes, this band really is coming to an end.’ But you are probably right…I must have another listen. Great song.

  6. robert

    If you watch the Let It Be movie you will see quite plainly that, as said above, John alone does the whistling and George is playing a bass line on a regular Fender Telecaster guitar – not a bass guitar.

    It’s the same guitar George plays throughout the movie.

  7. apple_jam

    Interesting to think that, if they had recorded this on any other album than LIB, McCartney most likely would have sung both parts himself. Thank God, because his and John’s voices together on this is magical.

  8. GeorgeTSimpson

    Well I’d like to listen to it with Paul double-tracking his vocals, I think it would have sound good. I also think that on another album he would have double tracked his vocals because john sings a lot like a “second voice for Paul” I mean as a substitude for Pauls double-tracked voice

  9. Rocky

    I love the Anthology version, it really brings out the bass part. However, I’m very curious; does Phil Spector sing on the Anthology Version? Towards the end, for the last verse, Paul says something that sounds like, “Take it Phil!” At this point, a very rough, harsh voice enters the recording. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t sound like any of the Beatles. Who is it? If anyone, it would be John, but John sings throughout the entire song and sounds nothing like it until the end. Can anyone confirm that it is Phil Spector singing?

  10. Bullwinkle

    The ‘Take it Phil’ is a reference to Phil Everly of The Everly Brothers. The acoustic version of Two of Us is very much in the style of The Everly Brothers with their two part harmony sound being a large influence on Paul in the early days. Also referred to in Let ‘Em In (Phil and Don)

  11. Jerry Cohen

    This is definitely George on the mohagony Telecaster playing the “bass” part. It’s not difficult on a Telecaster to select the neck pick-up nd roll of the treble on the tone knob to get this sound. Amp settings help too, of course. Still not sure why he didn’t use the Bass VI, as John did for Let It Be and Long And Winding Road, maybe he just didn’t feel like it.

    1. UnidentifiedFiendishThingy

      It is a rosewood Tele not mahogany. I think the Bass VI has a chunkier heavier tone which would not be appropriate for this song and would have overpowered the guitars. That’s probably why.

      1. OldFartBassPlayer Walt

        My experiences with playing a Bass VI kind of guitar up high seemed to show the tone was not quite as
        resonant and vibrant as a regularly-tuned guitar, ESPECIALLY a tele. I don’t know if this was part of
        George’s decision making.

    2. Rocky

      The Telecaster was actually rosewood! It was really a beautiful guitar that Fender gifted to him, and his son Dhani has named it as his favorite guitar.

      Personally I believe that George had a guitar part, but just turned it into a bass-like sound. I love it!

  12. Graham Paterson

    A lovely song, one of my favorites off the “Let It Be” album. Paul McCartney’s lyrics are beautiful. Great acoustic guitar work by both Lennon and McCartney. Love this in the film and instantly when I got my copy of album “Let It Be” in 1978.

  13. Matt Tycho

    On the stereo version of the song, I can quite clearly hear that one acoustic guitar is much more prevalent on the left and the other on the right. Does anyone know which side is John’s, and which is Paul’s playing?

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