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From Me to You

"From Me to You" is a song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and released by The Beatles as a single in 1963. The single was the Beatles' first number one in some of the United Kingdom charts, second in others, but failed to make an impact in the United States at the time of its initial release. It was one of the very last songs to be credited "McCartney/Lennon; soon afterwards their songs began appearing credited to "Lennon/McCartney".

Composition

Lennon and McCartney began writing "From Me to You" while on a coach heading to Shrewsbury as part of the Beatles' tour with Helen Shapiro. They had been reading the New Musical Express and noticed the letters section of the magazine: From You to Us. McCartney noted that their early songs tended to include the words I, me, or you in them, as a way of making them "very direct and personal".

In his 1980 interview with Playboy, Lennon recalled writing the song:

We were writing it in a car I think, and I think the first line was mine. I mean I know it was mine. [Hums melody of first line.] And then after that we took it from there. It was far bluesier than that when we wrote it. The notes—today you could rearrange it pretty funky.

McCartney also talked about rearranging the song in 1964:

"From Me to You"—it could be done as an old ragtime tune—especially the middle eight—and so we're not writing the tunes in any particular idiom. In five years time we may arrange the tunes differently. But we'll probably write the same old rubbish!

McCartney was not the only one on the bus who called it rubbish—singer Kenny Lynch, upon hearing The Beatles singing "ooh", remarked "You can't do that. You'll sound like a bunch of fucking fairies!" Soon afterwards he stormed off, declaring the Beatles didn't know anything about songwriting. Roger Greenway recounted the story:

John and Paul were sitting at the back of the coach and Kenny Lynch, who at this time fancied himself as a songwriter, sauntered up to the back of the coach and Kenny Lynch ... decided he would help them 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 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 music from their backsides. That's it! No more help from me!'"

Regardless, the song was regarded by the Beatles as innovative and catchy enough to be released as a single. This was one Lennon/McCartney song that the duo truly co-wrote; McCartney described it as "very much co-written".

Melody and lyrics

"From Me to You" comprises four verses and two intervening bridges. The last half of each verse is a mini-refrain, while the lyrics of the bridges are identical. The verses each consist of a rather short eight measures played in C-major. In the bridge the song modulates to the subdominant (IV) key: F-major. The tonic-subdominant modulation is almost a cliché, but Lennon & McCartney avoids the cliché by going another route from I to IV than the standard I-I7-IV. At the bridge's climax, the chord changes are accompanied by "woo!" Another characterizing element in the bridge is the augmented chord - a Gaug - that ends the bridge and leads back to home key (C-major). Lennon plays prominent harmonica solos during the beginning, middle and end of the song, as he did with "Love Me Do".

McCartney said of the song:

The thing I liked about "From Me to You" was it had a very complete middle. It went to a surprising place. The opening chord of the middle section of that song heralded a new batch for me. That was a pivotal song. Our songwriting lifted a little with that song.

The idea of singing the song's opening lick—the "da da da da da dum dum da" part—was suggested by George Martin, the Beatles' producer. The group thought it unusual but put their trust in Martin. "In a way, this made [the Beatles] aware of George's enormous musical sense," EMI producer Ron Richards later said.

In the song, the singer offers his love to the object of his affections—he has "everything that you want". Although the song is based on first-person pronouns, it lacks a lead singer.

Recording and U.K. release

The recording on 5 March 1963 at Abbey Road Studios went without a hitch and on 11 April Parlophone Records released "From Me to You" in Britain as a single, with "Thank You Girl" on the B-side. Nine days later, it kicked off a twenty-one week run in the British charts, culminating with reaching number one on 4 May, a position it would retain for seven weeks.

"From Me to You" was the first song to reach number one in Britain and is widely considered to be their first chart-topping song, for although "Please Please Me" reached the summit on almost every chart, it was only number two on Record Retailer's chart, generally considered to be the most authoritative for the time. "From Me to You" would be the first of eleven consecutive British number one singles by the Beatles.

"From Me to You" replaced Gerry and the Pacemakers' "How Do You Do It", a song that had been offered to the Beatles but rejected by them in favour of "Love Me Do". Gerry and the Pacemakers, who also hailed from Liverpool, were very much rivals of the Beatles in their early days—Gerry and the Pacemakers attained the first number one ("How Do You Do It") before the Beatles, and also claimed their second and third number ones before the Beatles did, slowly losing steam afterwards as Beatlemania launched and the Beatles dominated music worldwide in 1964.

A true indication of how successful the Beatles became thanks to "From Me to You" (though it would soon be overshadowed by "She Loves You" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand") was expressed by McCartney: "The first time I thought we'd really made it, was when I was lying in bed one morning, and I heard a milkman whistling 'From Me to You'. Actually, I'm sure that I once heard a bird whistling it as well. I swear I did!"

First U.S. release

When it released "Please Please Me" in the United States, Vee-Jay Records signed a licensing agreement giving it the right of first refusal on Beatles records for five years. Despite the failure of "Please Please Me" to catch on, Vee-Jay chose to release "From Me to You"; as a result, it was never turned down by Capitol, because it was never offered to them. "From Me to You" was released on Vee-Jay 522, with "Thank You Girl" on the B-side, approximately 6 May. Even though Cash Box magazine called it a "Pick of the Week" when it was released, it initially failed even more miserably than its predecessor; through the end of June, "From Me to You" sold fewer than 4,000 copies and had failed to chart anywhere.

When Del Shannon released a cover version of "From Me to You" on Big Top Records in June, Vee-Jay tried to stimulate more interest in the original, both by placing mazagine ads and by sending out additional promotional copies of the 45 stamped with the words "The Original Hit". But the biggest boost to the Beatles' version came from Dick Biondi, who had played "Please Please Me" on WLS in Chicago. Biondi was fired by WLS in May and relocated to KRLA in Los Angeles in June. He was able to convince his new employer to add "From Me to You" to its playlist, and it entered KRLA's "Tune-Dex" on 14 July, spending six weeks on the chart and peaking at 32 on 11 August.

Because of the airplay, and resulting sales, in Los Angeles, "From Me to You" made the "Bubbling Under" portion of the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks, peaking at #116 on 10 August, the same time the single peaked in Los Angeles. It was the first time the Beatles appeared on a national chart in the United States. The late attention in Los Angeles spurred sales of the 45; in the end, the original edition of "From Me to You" sold approximately 22,000 copies, roughly three times as many as "Please Please Me" had. Even so, it is still considered to be a rare record and highly sought-after by Beatles collectors.

Second U.S. release

Vee-Jay chose to couple "From Me to You" with "Please Please Me" when it re-released the single on or around 3 January, 1964, shortly after film of the Beatles had appeared on The Jack Paar Program, a prime-time television show. Had Vee-Jay known how all-encompassing Beatlemania would become, it likely would have saved "From Me to You" for use as an A-side, the way it did with "Twist and Shout" and "Do You Want to Know a Secret". But even as a B-side, "From Me to You" entered the Billboard charts on 7 March and peaked at #41. The double-sided hit sold approximately 1.1 million copies in 1964.

Del Shannon cover

On 18 April 1963, the Beatles were one of 15 acts to play at Swinging Sound '63, an all-star concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London. They played "From Me to You" and "Twist and Shout". Del Shannon was also on the bill that night. After the concert, he told John Lennon that he was going to record "From Me to You" to give the group some exposure in America. At first, Lennon was flattered, but he quickly changed his mind, realizing that a cover version by Shannon might hurt the Beatles' chances of having a hit in the States. As it turned out, Lennon was temporarily right, but neither artist's version was a big hit in America.

In early June, Big Top Records released Shannon's version of "From Me to You" as the follow-up to "Two Kinds of Teardrops." It entered the Billboard Hot 100 on 29 June, becoming the first Lennon-McCartney composition to make the American charts. It spent four weeks on the chart and peaked at #77. It was even more successful in Chicago as it peaked at #15 on the WLS "Silver Dollar Survey".

"At that time no one had heard of the Beatles here (the U.S.), but I knew they were great writers so I just picked up on one of their songs," Shannon said later.

Later versions

Several different cover versions of the song were used in Christmas-themed TV commercials for the Macy's chain of department stores in the U.S. in late 2006.

Another cover version of this song appeared on Bobby McFerrin´s album Spontaneuos Inventions.

Credits

Notes

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