‘From Me To You’, released on April 11, 1963 was, technically speaking, The Beatles’ first U.K. number one single. The second in a sequence of four, devastating body blows to the British pop scene in 1963 (the others being ‘Please Please Me’/’She Loves You’/’I Want To Hold Your Hand’), ‘From Me To You’ raced up the charts upon its release, knocking ‘How Do You Do It?’ (a song the Beatles had rejected) off the top spot.
The single cemented the group’s claim to the title as the Kings of British pop. Its fresh originality, bluesy feel, catchy melody and surprising chord changes became a backdrop to the group’s blitzkrieg of Britain’s media, and the general population throughout the summer of 1963. Incredibly however, like ‘Please Please Me’ before it, but for the intervention of EMI producer George Martin, ‘From Me To You’ almost ended up as a b-side.
‘The third single, ‘From Me To You’, was really important, because that put the stamp on it. We’d had the first one, ‘Love Me Do’, which did well. Then they let us back in the studio and we did ‘Please Please Me’, then we had the album, and then ‘From Me To You’, the success of which assured us some fame’, said the late George Harrison
Twenty-two days after recording the bulk of their debut LP, and 18 days prior to its release, the Beatles were back in Abbey Road’s Studio Two to record the follow-up single to ‘Please Please Me’, the single which had given the group a number one on two out of three national record charts only weeks previous.
The Beatles’ nationwide popularity was rocketing, and their star was truly in its ascendancy. Evidence of their rapidly growing status as stars was demonstrated when, during one of the bitterest British winters on record, a February 19 engagement at The Cavern Club in Liverpool had drawn a queue of fans onto the street for two nights prior to the show (Complete Beatles Chronicle, Lewisohn, p.100).
On February 28, during this intense period of touring, Lennon and McCartney sat down on the back of the tour bus travelling from York to Shrewsbury with the intention of writing new material in response to pressure from George Martin and Brian Epstein. Upon arrival at Shrewsbury the new song was complete. ‘This was our real start’, said Paul McCartney
With their confidence as a songwriting partnership beginning to bloom in earnest, Lennon and McCartney began experimenting with new ideas to inject into their original compositions. ‘From Me To You’, possibly the duo’s first 50-50 collaboration, is notable for introducing several new departures.
The lyrical inspiration for sending love ‘From Me To You’ was apparently lifted from the mail-bag section of the music publication NME, titled From You To Us, a copy of which was present on the tour bus.
The title evolved a second time to become ‘From Us To You’; a lyrical variation of the original song which the group performed on four holiday specials at the BBC during 1964.
‘On Tuesday 5 [of] March we all got it absolutely spot-on in Studio Two […] the recording of ‘From Me To You’ was pure magic’, according to Norman Smith, an EMI engineer.
The Beatles entered Studio Two on Tuesday March 5 and participated in two sessions, which lasted from 2:30-5:00 p.m. and 7:00-10:00 p.m., respectively.
The instrumental setup for the recording session was similar to the Please Please Me LP session on February 11. Lennon played his Gibson J-160E acoustic-electric plugged into his Vox AC-30 amplifier and McCartney his 1961 Höfner 500/1 mic’d through his Tannoy/Leak rig. Harrison played his Gibson J-160E acoustic-electric, also plugged into a Vox AC-30, while Starr was still using his Premier drums.
The backline setup is confirmed by the presence of EMI staff photographer John Dove who snapped several iconic shots of the day. These early black and white photographs are instantly recognisable with Lennon, Harrison and Starr wearing uniform black waist coats over a shirt and tie.
It seems that as the session began, Lennon and McCartney favoured ‘Thank You Little Girl’ as the next a-side with ‘From Me To You’ pencilled as its flip-side partner. However, George Martin suggested a few changes to the latter and convinced the group of its commercial qualities over the former, and as with ‘Please Please Me’ previously, his intervention and advice brought the Beatles another number one record.