Two of Us - The Beatles
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"Two of Us" - The Beatles (1970)
“Two of Us” is either about McCartney commenting on his relationship with Lennon- or, as he claimed, about him and Linda Eastman who were married about a month after the song was recorded. The lines about “chasing paper and getting nowhere” are usually taken to refer to the Beatle’s contractual troubles.
This idyllic love song with its changes of meter and novel chord changes liven up and add bite to an acoustic pseudo-folk song that might otherwise be a bit too sweet and charming for its own good.
Professor Ken Womack writes:
“Two of Us juxtaposes the idea of literally returning home with the grand sweep of memories. With a gentle, vaguely country and western acoustic guitar part the track’s recurring lyrical image—‘we’re on our way home’—suggests that the speaker and his companion have come full circle, that they’ve arrived at some inevitable destination from whence life as they know it will be different.”
The song is about bittersweet emotion that merits contemplation, if not acknowledgment, for its invariable place in the human life-cycle. This phenomenon, according to Womack, is presciently captured in McCartney’s superb middle-eight: “You and I have memories / Longer than the road that stretches out ahead.”
John’s whistle solo during the coda tenderly punctuates the composition’s layers of meaning, denoting the simple joys of friendship, on the one hand, while signaling a wistful farewell. Although written and composed almost entirely by McCartney- he and Lennon sing it as a duet.
Musicologist Tim Riley remarks:
“The art is in the way John accompanies: he knows how to bring out the best in Paul’s whimsy, and the two of them sound more different together here than on any other duet they sing. In the line ‘We’re going home,’ ‘Home’ refers to the emotional space the couple shares together wherever they travel- the sense of adventure along the way rather than the destination. The simple pleasures of wordplay (‘burning matches, lifting latches’) are not balanced in the bridge, where the shared experience (‘You and I have memories/Longer than the road that stretches out of ahead’) alludes to John and Paul’s partnership as songwriters.”
“Two of Us” embraces with typical Beatles generosity every fan who has traveled so far for so many years with the band. We are all on the same road home somewhere, twisting nostalgia into a sentiment close to happy closure and hope.
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