When I first came to Japan, I stayed in a small house belonging to a local worthy. His son was about my age, and we soon struck up a friendship, tho he didn’t speak much English and I didn’t speak any Japanese. On the first or second meeting, he gave me a cassette tape of a compilation of Beatles songs that he’d put together himself. I took it home and played it, and got a blast from the past. There were a couple of songs on there in particular that I hadn’t heard since the first time I’d heard them back in the 60s. They came through with a gentle yet shattering force.

This was one of them, played here in a studio version.

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The YouTube comments tell me that Paul and John weren’t really speaking to each other by this time, which gives this song a particular poignancy: as you watch and listen and remember that they weren’t on speaking terms (I think none of them were, by this time), the words to the song “the two of us” and “going home” and the general “happy nostalgia” feeling of the song stands in marked contrast to the complex cooperation going on as they play this song, flawlessly.

However, comments on another performance of this song reveal that the song was never about John and Paul, but about Paul and Linda.

The comments are added to the video of a performance by Paul McCartney in Red Sqaure in Moscow  in 2003.  Having had several glasses of good wine by the time I watched this, I was struck again by some sentimental aspects: there are young people enjoying this song who are young enough to be Paul’s grandchildren, yet this song speaks to them, too (watch for the two dancers in yellow).

The song is performed by Paul playing the acoustic guitar, as he did in the first video. The bass is played by someone else, but in any event it IS a bass, whereas in the original performance, the “bass” was played by George on a regular, not a bass, guitar. I think George’s bass line was more musically interesting than the one in Red Square, but then I’m a sucker for complex melodic lines.

Here’s Paul in Red Square. Those opening sixths are unmistakable and instantly recognizable, even thousands of miles and over 40 years away:

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