Following a lengthy but productive workshop of “Get Back” early on January 10, 1969, Paul McCartney conceded the Beatles were “going to hate these [new songs by the time] we do them [live].” And they were already starting to feel it.
“My favorite” was John Lennon’s glib reply after Paul introduced “Two of Us” as the next song to be rehearsed.
The song’s author himself was salty, too, with Paul criticizing the song at the start of this 30-minute sequence as “faceless” after the day’s first run-through.
“Yes,” agreed John. “Make a demo for Grapefruit.”
(This throwaway joke is worthy of a brief sidebar. It’s treated as fact that the band Grapefruit, who were signed to Apple Publishing and named by John after Yoko Ono’s book of the same name, were offered — but refused — to record “Two of Us.” That fact appears sourced entirely from the above quote by John, which also appeared in the book packaged with the Let It Be LP. Not discernible in print, John said this with a laugh, seemingly underwhelmed by Grapefruit at this point in their career and jokingly ready to hand off this faceless effort to a juice-less Grapefruit.)
A slightly defensive Paul backed off his critique. “No, it’s all right, the song. It’s just not very interesting to me yet.”
With the same treatment we can still see today in the Let It Be film, electric and energetic, John proposed a solution that would come once the group convened at Savile Row: Unplug.
“The question’s always the same, and the answer’s always the same. Maybe in the studio, it’s acoustic.”
When he wasn’t micromanaging (see below), Paul had no problem opening the floor to an organic solution, and he sounded especially — and uncharacteristically — happy to see the working week nearly over. “OK, just run through it. … See, George, you can just [plays galloping guitar part], and then try to tart it up. I know that’s what I said not to do last time, but it’s Friday. Let’s try it.”
After another attempt petered out, Paul refocused on the song’s bridge, sounding an air of desperation. “We’ve just got to do something about this middle eight before it’s too late. … It’s time for riffs. That’s the only thing that’s going to help all of this.” Still, his own detailed suggestions crossed into the comical.
“Do something slow, four in the bar, with a little bit of kick to it,” Paul said before laughing at the absurdity of his requested word salad. Still, the group added minor flourishes here and there, with Ringo working a bossa-nova tempo in the bridge at one point, while later trying a “Peggy Sue”-inspired pattern.
Frustrated, Paul conceded that he’d “never been stuck with the middle eight, but it’s all right.” John countered that it was a typical middle eight, while George — who was largely quiet during the “Two of Us” session — suggested the group mix in a Mellotron part.
The mood has remained light as Paul evoked a 21-year-old pop singer and a 46-year-old balladeer whose biggest hit was produced by George Martin in 1956. “It’s like a rock middle eight now, it’s a bit better. It’s not so Sandie Shaw. A bit more Eve Boswell.”
And while Paul said the middle eight remained lacking — John proposed, to laughs, some choreography –“Two of Us” rehearsals wrapped up on the tapes, with the final takes featuring a variety of experimental parts, including a guitar part from George that had a echo of the Byrds’ “The Bells of Rhymney” (or maybe it’s just by way of his own “If I Needed Someone”).
In those same final moments — and ultimately the song didn’t advance much further from where they began that day — Paul sang “four of us” at one point. That was quite poignant, because just minutes later on the tapes, the Beatles would, in fact, consist of just three of them.