Here Today

Written by Paul McCartney

Album This song officially appears on the Tug Of War Official album.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1982
Timeline This song has been written (or started being written) in 1981 (Paul McCartney was 39 years old)

Master release


Related sessions

This song has been recorded during the following studio sessions



Mixing "Here Today"

Dec 09, 1981


Remixing "Tug Of War" album

March 2-30, 2015

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Song facts

I wrote ‘Here Today’ about John. It’s just a song saying, you know, ‘If you were here today you’d probably say what I’m doing is a load of crap. But you wouldn’t mean it, cos you like me really, I know.’

Paul McCartney

From Wikipedia:

Here Today” is a song by Paul McCartney from his 1982 album Tug of War. McCartney wrote the song about his relationship with and love for John Lennon, who had died less than two years before. He stated the song was composed in the form of an imaginary conversation the pair might have had. The song was produced by The Beatles’ producer George Martin. Although not released as a single, the song reached #46 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock charts.

McCartney often performs the song live, and it is featured on the live albums Back in the World, Back in the U.S., and Good Evening New York City.

From an interview with Los Angeles Times, April 1982:

Did you resist writing a song about John at first?

Yes. I worried that it might not be good enough and that someone might think I was trying to cash in on it or something. I could just picture all these people sitting down after John’s death and saying, “I’m going to write a song about this…it’s a great idea.” None of the three of us [ex-Beatles] would think like that, but I had these worries in the back of my mind. I figured it was better to just avoid it. But eventually I just realized it was silly. I figured I’d just let it happen naturally, if I wrote a song about John, OK. If I didn’t, it’s OK, too. I’ve always had two sides to me: the creative and judicial. The creative starts to do something and the judicial starts to question and second-guess: ‘Is that right? Does that make sense? What will people think?’ I’ve begun trying to make sure the judicial doesn’t interfere with the creative. Anyway, I kind of forgot about the whole thing until I sat down one day and struck the beginning chords of “Here Today” and it fell out. 

Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney in "Conversations With McCartney", by Paul Du Noyer:

I wrote ‘Here Today’ about John. It’s just a song saying, you know, ‘If you were here today you’d probably say what I’m doing is a load of crap. But you wouldn’t mean it, cos you like me really, I know.’ It’s one of those ‘Come out from behind your glasses, look at me,’ things. It was a love song, really, not to John but a love song about John, about my relationship with him. I was trying to exorcise the demons in my own head. It’s tough when you have someone like John slagging you off in public, cos he’s a tough slagger-offer. So I wrote this song to try and come to terms with it. I thought I’d do that on stage but then someone suggested, ‘Why don’t you do one of John’s? That would be poignant.’ And it would, I don’t know if I could even get through it – you’ve got to deal with the emotion of something like that. [A year later Paul did tackle some Lennon material in concert.] But it would be nice to make a nod or a wink to the lad, cos he was great. He was a major influence on my life, as I suppose I was on his.

But the great thing about me and John is that it was me and John, end of story. Whereas everyone else can say ‘Well you know, he did this and so-and-so and so-and-so.’ The nice thing is that I can actually think. Come on, when we got in a little room it was me and John sitting down. It was me and him who wrote not these other people who think they all know about it. I must know better than them. I was the one in the room with him. But sometimes you don’t believe it.

From The Guardian, June 11, 2004:

[…] And then there is ‘Here Today’, the song he wrote in the wake of John Lennon’s death. “At least once a tour, that song just gets me,” he says. “I’m singing it, and I think I’m OK, and I suddenly realise it’s very emotional, and John was a great mate and a very important man in my life, and I miss him, you know? It happened at the first show, in Gijon: I was doing fine, and I found myself doing a thing I’ve done in soundcheck, just repeating one of the lines: ‘I love you, I love you, I love you.’ I did that and I thought, ‘That’s nice – that works.’ And then I came to finish the song, to do the last verse, and it was, ‘Oh shit – I’ve just totally lost it.’

From the Tug Of War Archive Collection, 2015:

I play ’Here Today’ every night in my concerts. It’s a very emotional thing; so there’s lots of thoughts that it brings up. One of writing it right here, and just sort of channelling John, and just sort of talking to John really, is what it is. I announce it in the show as ‘a conversation that we never had’, and that’s kind of what it is. I’m just bringing key memories. ‘What about the night we cried?’ When I said ‘key’, it came to my mind; it was actually in Key West in Florida, on a Beatles tour. That line there – we had to cancel a show in Jacksonville because of an approaching hurricane. So we went down to Key West which was nothing then, just a few houses. I understand now people say it’s a huge place, like Vegas! So anyway, it was this desolate little house, and we just sat and drank a lot and got totally wrecked, and we had very in-depth conversations like you do when you’re just stuck in a room with a few guys. But I mean normally at parties and that we’d be able to handle it but this was just stuck in a room woth nothing to do but wait until we could go to Jacksonville. It was a number of days, and that meant basically just drink, all the time. It was very emotional because we cried; it was the only time we’d cried together – “Oh. I love you” One of those drunken crying sessions. But again that was one of the memories when I’m talking to John “What about the night we cried?” you know. “What about the time we met?” and… come on man, we had the most intimate relationship. and I think that’s what you think about when you lose a friend. About all those little things that just jump into your mind. So I put a lot of that into the song. When I do it now, it’s still very emotional, and I go back . . . as I sing it. I go back to all those places and all those times. I think the only thing that I always question in the song is [hums, then sings], ‘You’d probably say that we were worlds apart.’ I don’t think he would have said that. I don’t know how that line got in there. I don’t think that he would say ‘worlds apart’. I think it was more… in answer to some of the things he’s said when we were having our… barney. After the break-up of The Beatles, and he’d sort of said, you know, ‘Oh, McCartney’s this, I’m this’ and ‘McCartney’s that, I’m that’. I think I was trying to answer that kind of thing: ‘You’d probably say that we were worlds apart…’.

Paul McCartney, in Tug Of War Archive Collection, 2015

A love song to John, written very shortly after he died. I was remembering things about our relationship and about the million things we’d done together, from just being in each other’s front parlours or bedrooms to walking on the street together or hitchhiking — long journeys together that had nothing to do with the Beatles. I was thinking of all these things in what was then my recording studio in Sussex. It was just a little house with a small room upstairs with bare, wooden plank floors and bare walls, and I had my guitar with me, so

I just sat there and wrote this.There’s one line in the lyric I don’t really mean: “Well knowing you / You’d probably laugh and say / That we were worlds apart”. I’m playing to the more cynical side of John, but I don’t think it’s true that we were so distant. “But you were always there with a smile” — that was very John. If you were arguing with him, and it got a bit tense, he’d just lower his specs and say, “It’s only me,” then put them back up again, as if the specs were part of a completely different identity.

“What about the night we cried?” That was in Key West, on our first major tour to the US, when there was a hurricane coming in and we couldn’t play a show in Jacksonville. We had to lie low for a couple of days, and we were in our little Key West motel room, and we got very drunk and cried about how we loved each other. I was talking to someone yesterday who was telling me that if he cried, his father would say, “Boys don’t cry. You mustn’t do that.” My dad wasn’t like that, but that was the attitude: male people do not cry. I think now it’s acknowledged that it’s a perfectly good thing to do, and I say, “God wouldn’t have given us tears if he didn’t mean us to cry.”

There’s a longing in the lines “If you were here today” and “I am holding back the tears no more”, because it was very emotional, writing this song. I was just sitting there in that bare room, thinking of John and realising I’d lost him. And it was a powerful loss, so to have a conversation with him in a song was some form of solace. Somehow I was with him again. “And if I say/ I really loved you” — there it is, I’ve said it. Which I would never have said to him. It’s a very charged experience to perform this song in concert.

Paul McCartney – From Paul McCartney reveals the stories behind his greatest hits | The Sunday Times Magazine | The Sunday Times (thetimes.co.uk) – From “The Lyrics”, 2021

Last updated on October 19, 2021

The book "The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present", published in 2021, covers Paul McCartney's early Liverpool days, the Beatles, Wings, and solo careers, by pairing the lyrics of 154 of his songs with first-person commentaries of the circumstances in which they were written, the people and places that inspired them, and what he thinks of them now.

"Here Today" is one of the 154 songs covered.

Lyrics

And if I said
I really knew you well
What would your answer be?
If you were here today
Here today

Well knowing you
You'd probably laugh and say
That we were worlds apart
If you were here today
Here today

But as for me
I still remember how it was before
And I am holding back the tears no more
I love you

What about the time we met?
Well I suppose that you could say that
We were playing hard to get
Didn't understand a thing
But we could always sing

What about the night we cried?
Because there wasn't any reason left
To keep it all inside
Never understood a word
But you were always there with a smile

And if I say I really loved you
And was glad you came along
Then you were here today,
For you were in my song
Here today

Officially appears on


Tug Of War

Official album • Released in 1982

2:29 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Arrangement, Guitar, Vocals
George Martin :
Arrangement, Producer
Jack Rothstein :
Violin
Bertrand Partridge :
Violin
Ian Jewel :
Viola
Keith Harvey :
Cello
Jon Kelly :
Recording engineer
John Underwood :
Viola
Patrick Halling :
Violin
Dennis Vigay :
Cello
Laurie Lewis :
Violin
Alan John Peters :
Violin
Galina Solodchin :
Violin
Michael Rennie :
Violin
George Turnlund :
Viola
Ken Essex :
Viola
Alexander Kok :
Cello
Peter Willison :
Cello
Renate Blauel :
Second engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 30, 1981
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK

Session Mixing:
Dec 09, 1981
Studio :
Odyssey Studios, London


Tug Of War (1993)

Official album • Released in 1993

2:29 • Studio versionA1993 • 1993 remaster

Paul McCartney :
Arrangement, Guitar, Vocals
George Martin :
Arrangement, Producer
Jack Rothstein :
Violin
Bertrand Partridge :
Violin
Ian Jewel :
Viola
Keith Harvey :
Cello
Jon Kelly :
Recording engineer
John Underwood :
Viola
Patrick Halling :
Violin
Dennis Vigay :
Cello
Laurie Lewis :
Violin
Alan John Peters :
Violin
Galina Solodchin :
Violin
Michael Rennie :
Violin
George Turnlund :
Viola
Ken Essex :
Viola
Alexander Kok :
Cello
Peter Willison :
Cello
Renate Blauel :
Second engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 30, 1981
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK

Session Mixing:
Dec 09, 1981
Studio :
Odyssey Studios, London


Back In The U.S.

Official live • Released in 2002

2:28 • LiveL1

Paul McCartney :
Executive producer
Performed by :
Paul McCartneyRusty AndersonAbe Laboriel Jr.Paul WickensBrian Ray
David Kahne :
Producer
Michael Brauer :
Recording engineer
Ricardo Chavarria :
Assistant engineer

Concert From the concert in Toronto, Canada on Apr 13, 2002


Back In The World

Official live • Released in 2003

2:28 • LiveL1

Paul McCartney :
Executive producer
Performed by :
Paul McCartneyRusty AndersonAbe Laboriel Jr.Paul WickensBrian Ray
David Kahne :
Producer
Michael Brauer :
Recording engineer
Ricardo Chavarria :
Assistant engineer

Concert From the concert in Toronto, Canada on Apr 13, 2002


Good Evening New York City

Official live • Released in 2009

2:27 • LiveL2 • Could have been record on 17, 18 or 21 July 2009

Paul McCartney :
Executive producer
Performed by :
Paul McCartneyRusty AndersonAbe Laboriel Jr.Paul WickensBrian Ray
Geoff Emerick :
Audio mixing
Paul Hicks :
Audio mixing
Jonas Westling :
Additional engineering
Richard Lancaster :
Additional engineering
John Henry :
Recording engineer

Concert From the concert in New York, USA on Jul 17, 2009


Live In Los Angeles

Official live • Released in 2010

2:22 • LiveL3

Performed by :
Paul McCartneyRusty AndersonAbe Laboriel Jr.Brian RayDave Arch
Darrell Thorp :
Recording engineer

Concert From the concert in Los Angeles, USA on Jun 27, 2007


Tug Of War - Archive Collection

Official album • Released in 2015

2:28 • Studio versionB • 2015 remix

Paul McCartney :
Arrangement, Guitar, Remixing, Vocals
George Martin :
Arrangement, Producer
Jack Rothstein :
Violin
Bertrand Partridge :
Violin
Ian Jewel :
Viola
Keith Harvey :
Cello
Jon Kelly :
Recording engineer
John Underwood :
Viola
Patrick Halling :
Violin
Dennis Vigay :
Cello
Laurie Lewis :
Violin
Alan John Peters :
Violin
Galina Solodchin :
Violin
Michael Rennie :
Violin
George Turnlund :
Viola
Ken Essex :
Viola
Alexander Kok :
Cello
Peter Willison :
Cello
Renate Blauel :
Second engineer
Alex Wharton :
Mastering
Steve Orchard :
Remixing

Session Recording:
Nov 30, 1981
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK

Session Mixing:
March 2-30, 2015
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK


Tug Of War - Archive Collection

Official album • Released in 2015

2:26 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Arrangement, Guitar, Vocals
George Martin :
Arrangement, Producer
Jack Rothstein :
Violin
Bertrand Partridge :
Violin
Ian Jewel :
Viola
Keith Harvey :
Cello
Jon Kelly :
Recording engineer
John Underwood :
Viola
Patrick Halling :
Violin
Dennis Vigay :
Cello
Laurie Lewis :
Violin
Alan John Peters :
Violin
Galina Solodchin :
Violin
Michael Rennie :
Violin
George Turnlund :
Viola
Ken Essex :
Viola
Alexander Kok :
Cello
Peter Willison :
Cello
Renate Blauel :
Second engineer

Session Recording:
Nov 30, 1981
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK

Session Mixing:
Dec 09, 1981
Studio :
Odyssey Studios, London


Pure McCartney

Official album • Released in 2016

2:29 • Studio versionB • 2015 remix

Paul McCartney :
Arrangement, Guitar, Remixing, Vocals
George Martin :
Arrangement, Producer
Jack Rothstein :
Violin
Bertrand Partridge :
Violin
Ian Jewel :
Viola
Keith Harvey :
Cello
Jon Kelly :
Recording engineer
John Underwood :
Viola
Patrick Halling :
Violin
Dennis Vigay :
Cello
Laurie Lewis :
Violin
Alan John Peters :
Violin
Galina Solodchin :
Violin
Michael Rennie :
Violin
George Turnlund :
Viola
Ken Essex :
Viola
Alexander Kok :
Cello
Peter Willison :
Cello
Renate Blauel :
Second engineer
Alex Wharton :
Mastering
Steve Orchard :
Remixing

Session Recording:
Nov 30, 1981
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK

Session Mixing:
March 2-30, 2015
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK


Pure McCartney (Deluxe)

Official album • Released in 2016

2:29 • Studio versionB • 2015 remix

Paul McCartney :
Arrangement, Guitar, Remixing, Vocals
George Martin :
Arrangement, Producer
Jack Rothstein :
Violin
Bertrand Partridge :
Violin
Ian Jewel :
Viola
Keith Harvey :
Cello
Jon Kelly :
Recording engineer
John Underwood :
Viola
Patrick Halling :
Violin
Dennis Vigay :
Cello
Laurie Lewis :
Violin
Alan John Peters :
Violin
Galina Solodchin :
Violin
Michael Rennie :
Violin
George Turnlund :
Viola
Ken Essex :
Viola
Alexander Kok :
Cello
Peter Willison :
Cello
Renate Blauel :
Second engineer
Alex Wharton :
Mastering
Steve Orchard :
Remixing

Session Recording:
Nov 30, 1981
Studio :
AIR Studios, London, UK

Session Mixing:
March 2-30, 2015
Studio :
Hog Hill Studio, Rye, UK


Films


Here Today (version 1)

1982 • For Paul McCartney • Directed by Maurice Phillips


Here Today (version 2)

1982 • For Paul McCartney

Live performances

“Here Today” has been played in 398 concerts and 3 soundchecks.

Latest concerts where Here Today has been played







Going further


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Read more on The Beatles Bible

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