The Story Behind “From Me to You” by The Beatles and How It Was Inspired by a Letter in the ‘NME’

While The Beatles were beginning to cause pandemonium in British theaters, their presence in the U.S. was barely felt. The first appearance of a Lennon-McCartney composition on the Billboard chart came in the form of Bigtop Records 45-3152 by Del Shannon. The rocker from Grand Rapids, Michigan, had appeared on a package show with The Beatles on April 18, 1963, at Royal Albert Hall in London. After the show, he told John Lennon of his intention to record the song “From Me to You.” The Beatle was flattered but also worried a cover version could hurt the American performance of the single.

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Shannon’s single debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 on June 29, 1963, and spent four weeks on the chart. It peaked at No. 77 but it performed better in the Chicago area where it reached No. 15 on the WLS Silver Dollar Survey. Let’s take a look at the story behind “From Me To You” by The Beatles.

From You to Us

On February 28, 1963, John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote the song on a bus as they were traveling from York to Shrewsbury in England. The Beatles were in the middle of a tour supporting the British teen hitmaker Helen Shapiro. Lennon remembered in The Beatles Anthology: “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. What puzzled us was why we’d thought of a name like ‘From Me to You.’ It had me thinking when I picked up the NME to see how we were doing in the charts. Then I realized—we’d got the inspiration from reading a copy on the coach. Paul and I had been talking about one of the letters in the From You to Us column.”

If there’s anything that you want
If there’s anything I can do
Just call on me, and I’ll send it along
With love, from me to you

The Next Single

Shapiro headlined 14 shows during the tour. She said, “I remember John and Paul coming up to me to ask if I would like to hear a couple of songs that they had just written. They were looking for opinions because they were undecided about which should be their next single. We crowded around a piano, and Paul played while the two of them sang their latest composition. One was ‘Thank You, Girl,’ and the other was ‘From Me to You,’ which I liked best.”

I’ve got everything that you want
Like a heart that’s oh so true
Just call on me, and I’ll send it along
With love, from me to you

“Same Old Rubbish”

On May 18, 1964, When asked if their songwriting would evolve, McCartney told interviewer David Frost, “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!”

I’ve got arms that long to hold you
And keep you by my side
I’ve got lips that long to kiss you
And keep you satisfied (oh)

Every Trick in the Book

In 2021, McCartney wrote in The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present, “It occurred to us we should try and reach out to our fans. We were just trying to get more and more people to like us. It was still a thrill that people liked us and would go to great lengths to show us that, like writing letters to us. Our efforts at reaching out to the fans were summed up in one of our early songs, called ‘Thank You Girl.’ … All our early stuff had personal pronouns in the titles. First single, ‘Love Me Do,’ second single, ‘Please Please Me,’ next one ‘From Me to You’—we managed to get two of them in on that one! Then came ‘She Loves You’ and ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand.’ It was all very personal so that we were reaching whoever was listening to the song. ‘Love Me Do’ was making a very personal plea: Love, love me do / You know I love you. And ‘Please Please Me’ was our first No. 1 hit in England. So, after that came this song, ‘From Me to You.’ We used every trick in the book.

“There was a catchy sing-along intro; you didn’t even have to know the words, and you could sing along with that. We were foregrounding the sound of John’s harmonica on these songs. It had been on ‘Love Me Do,’ and now it was on ‘From Me to You.’ The idea of sending a letter was always a big thing in rock and roll. Just think ‘Please, Mr. Postman’ and ‘Return to Sender.'”

Added Lennon, “We’d already written ‘Thank You Girl’ as the follow-up to ‘Please Please Me.’ This new number was to be the B-side. We were so pleased with it, we knew we just had to make it the A-side, ‘Thank You Girl’ the B.”

From me to you
Just call on me, and I’ll send it along
With love, from me to you

A Bad Review

When the New Musical Express referred to “From Me to You” as “Below-par Beatles,” it upset Lennon. He talked about it in his last print interview before his death with Rolling Stone: “Maybe it wasn’t as good as ‘Please Please Me,’ but below par? I’ll never forget that one. That’s when I first realized you’ve got to keep it up, there’s some sort of system where you get on the wheel, and you’ve got to keep going around.”

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Photo by Les Lee/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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