When was it recorded? Mar. 5, 1963
When was it first released, and on which album? Apr. 11, 1963 as a single
Who wrote it? Lennon/McCartney
Have I heard this song before? YES
What my research dug up:
In Feb./Mar. 1963, the Beatles toured with English singer and actress Helen Shapiro. Shapiro had her first UK hit, “Don’t Treat Me Like a Child” in 1961 when she was 16, followed by two more hits, “You Don’t Know” and “Walkin’ Back to Happiness.” Voted Britain’s Top Female Singer before she was 16, the 14-show tour featured Shapiro as the lead act with the Beatles (at the time as her supporting act.
John and Paul drafted “From Me to You” on Feb. 28, 1963, on a tour bus between venues. The two had been reading “From You to Us,” the reader mail section of New Musical Express.
“The night Paul and I wrote From Me To You, we were on the Helen Shapiro tour, on the coach, travelling from York to Shrewsbury. We weren’t taking ourselves seriously – just fooling around on the guitar – when we began to get a good melody line, and we really started to work at it. Before that journey was over, we’d completed the lyric, everything. I think the first line was mine and we took it from there.” — John Lennon (Anthology)
The duo had intended for “Thank You Girl” to be the Beatles’ next single and originally planned for “From Me to You” to appear as its B-side. According to John, though, they were so impressed with how “From Me to You” turned out that they flipped it, making the newer song the A-side and “Thank You Girl” the B-side.
Alan Pollack points out “several characteristic ingredients in the arrangement would eventually become almost cliché trademarks” that appear for the first time in “From Me to You.” Among them are:
- The vocal part features a duet virtually throughout (no solo vocal here)
- Vocal harmony makes frequent use of open fifths and falsetto singing
- Drum fills are carefully deployed at special, structural or dramatic points in the song, not at liberty
- An overdubbed harmonica is used to introduce the hook phrase
- As noted by Paul, the use of personal pronouns (I, me, you, etc.) to make the song connect with listeners on a deeper level
The Beatles recorded “From Me to You” five days after it was written on Mar. 5, 1963. Quoth the Beatles Bible, ” The group had originally wanted the song to begin with a guitar solo, but George Martin suggested that a mixture of harmonica and vocals would be more effective.” (John plays the harmonica part.)
As tagged above, “From Me to You” didn’t find its way onto a CD release until 1988’s “Past Masters Vol. 1.” “Anthology 1” contains a different, live version recorded for the Popgrupp från Liverpool på besök i Stockholm (English: Pop Group from Liverpool Visiting Stockholm) radio broadcast in Sweden on Oct. 4, 1963.
“From Me to You” was used as the theme song for the BBC radio series “From Us to You” (naturally). A version of this tune was recorded on Feb. 28, 1964, and released on last year’s “On Air: Live at the BBC Vol. 2.”
It’s definitely a testament to how well-crafted this song is that I have heard it numerous times from infancy to adulthood and haven’t yet gotten sick of it. It’s damn catchy, I’m not sure I could hate “From Me to You” if I’ve tried (not that I’m trying too hard).