You Tell Me

Written by Paul McCartney

Album This song officially appears on the Memory Almost Full Official album.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 2007

Related sessions

This song has been recorded during the following studio sessions

Related interviews

Interview with The Onion/A.V. Club

Jun 27, 2007 • From The Onion/A.V. Club

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Song facts

You Tell Me” is a song from Paul McCartney’s 2007 album, “Memory Almost Full“.

I started off just remembering summers: ‘Were we really there?’ ‘Was it real?’ Sometimes, for a lot of people, memories – particularly childhood memories – seem so golden and you think, ‘Did it really not rain all summer or am I just imagining the sunny bits?’ And then the phrase ‘You tell me’ began to be the theme of the song. I wrote it out in Long Island, during one of those summers. I was looking at a red cardinal – and for someone English that is kind of magical, seeing a bright red bird coming out of a tree – so he appeared in the lyric. A lot of what’s in the lyric was there as I was writing. It became a tribute to golden summers.

Paul McCartney – interview with Mail On Sunday, May 12, 2008

Interview with David Khane, from Mix Online, October 1, 2007:

‘You Tell Me’ is maybe the saddest song he’s ever written,” Kahne says. McCartney wrote the song in Long Island, and is, as he describes, “a tribute to golden summers.” The mostly acoustic number opens with some forward and backward organ, along with Laboriel playing a drum pad triggering some drum samples. McCartney’s vocal was recorded in a single pass, joined by beautiful vocals from the bandmembers. The backward/forward organ, used to create a mood, is followed by a quiet count-in from McCartney. “I was really happy he let me include the count-in. It’s iconic.

Last updated on January 18, 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.

"You Tell Me" is one of the 154 songs covered.


When was that summer when the skies were blue?
The bright red cardinal flew down from
his tree
You tell me

When was that summer when it never rained?
The air was buzzin' with the sweet old honey bee
Let's see
You tell me

Were we there, was it real?
Is it truly how I feel?
You tell me

Were we there, is it true?
Was I really there with you?
Let's see
You tell me

When was that summer of a dozen words?
The butterflies and hummingbirds flew free
Let's see
You tell me

Let's see
You tell me

Officially appears on

Memory Almost Full - 2CD limited edition bonus disc

Official album • Released in 2007

3:16 • Studio versionA

Memory Almost Full

Official album • Released in 2007

3:16 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Bass, Vocals
Rusty Anderson :
Backing vocals, Electric guitar
Abe Laboriel Jr. :
Backing vocals, Drums
David Kahne :
Mixing engineer, Producer
Paul Wickens :
Backing vocals, Electric piano
Brian Ray :
Backing vocals
Andy Wallace :
Mixing engineer

Session Recording:
End of February 2004
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Credits & recording details courtesy of Luca Perasi • Buy Paul McCartney: Music Is Ideas. The Stories Behind the Songs (Vol. 1) 1970-1989 on Amazon


Memory Almost Full - Ultimate Archive Collection

Unofficial album • Released in 2016

3:14 • Studio versionA

Live performances

Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.


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Steve 1 year ago

No matter what, this song is about dementia. It is such a sad song. Like the title of this masterpiece album, it beautifully and compassionately describes what a dementia person goes through. “Was I there, was it real?” are sentiments I’m asked of my poor mother. As a caregiver, this song gives me much comfort. It is perfect. It is my go-to “in times of trouble”.

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