Just the Two of Us: A Timeless Classic and Its Profound Meaning

by Alex Harris

12th September, 2023

Just the Two of Us: A Timeless Classic and Its Profound Meaning

The song Just the Two of Us is not just a melodic tune; it’s a poetic narrative that captures the essence of love, companionship, and the journey of two individuals building a life together. But what’s the story behind this iconic song, and what deeper meanings lie within its lyrics? Let’s dive in.

Origins of the Song

Just the Two of Us was written by the talented trio of Bill Withers, Ralph MacDonald, and William Salter. Originally, the track was an instrumental piece penned by MacDonald and Salter. However, MacDonald reached out to Withers, who then added the touching lyrics that we all know and love today. The song was released in February 1981 and was featured on Grover Washington Jr.’s album Winelight in 1980. The mesmerising Fender Rhodes electric piano that can be heard throughout the song was played by Richard Tee.

In an interview, Withers revealed that he was not satisfied with the original lyrics and asked for permission to rewrite them. He said, “I’m a little snobbish about words, so they sent me this song and said, ‘We want to do this with Grover, would you consider singing it?’ I said, ‘Yeah, if you’ll let me go in and try to dress these words up a little bit.’ Everybody that knows me is kind of used to me that way. I probably threw in the stuff like the crystal raindrops.”

Chart Performance

The song quickly climbed the charts, reaching number 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100. It remained in this position for three weeks, only surpassed by hits like Morning Train (9 to 5) by Sheena Easton and Bette Davis Eyes by Kim Carnes. It was Washington’s only Top 40 hit, but it certainly left a lasting impression. The track also won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song

Bill Withers included an edited version of the song in his 1981 compilation Bill Withers’ Greatest Hits. It also features in many of his subsequent greatest hits collections.

Just the Two of Us Lyric Interpretation

Verse 1:

I see the crystal raindrops fall
And the beauty of it all
Is when the sun comes shining through
To make those rainbows in my mind
When I think of you sometime
And I want to spend some time with you

The imagery of crystal raindrops and the sun breaking through suggests the transient nature of challenges in a relationship. The beauty that emerges after a storm (or conflict) can be even more profound than before. The rainbows in my mind indicate that memories with a loved one bring color and joy, even in challenging times.


Just the two of us
We can make it if we try
Just the two of us
Just the two of us
Just the two of us
Building castles in the sky
Just the two of us
You and I

The chorus emphasises the strength of the bond between the two individuals. The phrase building castles in the sky is a metaphor for their shared dreams and aspirations. The repetition of Just the two of us underscores their unity and the idea that their bond is exclusive and powerful enough to overcome challenges.

Verse 2: 

We look for love, no time for tears
Wasted water’s all that is
And it don’t make no flowers grow
Good things might come to those who wait
Not for those who wait too late
We gotta go for all we know

The search for love is contrasted with the fleeting nature of tears, suggesting that while love is enduring and worth seeking, tears (or moments of sadness) are temporary. The line, it don’t make no flowers grow implies that dwelling on sadness or regret doesn’t lead to growth in a relationship.

Verse 3: 

I hear the crystal raindrops fall
On the window down the hall
And it becomes the morning dew
And, darling, when the morning comes
And I see the morning sun
I want to be the one with you

The crystal raindrops return in this verse, this time falling on a window, suggesting a barrier or distance between the singer and the loved one. However, the morning dew and the morning sun symbolize renewal and a fresh start.

Popularity and Cultural Impact

The song’s popularity has not waned over the years. In 2020, Just the Two of Us began trending on TikTok, introducing the song to a new generation of listeners. This resurgence in popularity prompted William Salter’s granddaughter, Jada Salter, to upload a video to the platform commemorating his work. The song has also been featured in various media, including the opening sequence of the 2022 film Hotel Transylvania: Transformania and the TV show Futurama.

Grover Washington, JR
Grover Washington, JR


Just the Two of Us is a smooth-jazz/R&B single that celebrates love in its purest form, emphasizing the importance of partnership, shared dreams, and the beauty that emerges from challenges. It’s a timeless classic that resonates with people of all ages. It showcases the creative genius of Grover Washington Jr., Bill Withers, Ralph MacDonald, and William Salter. As Withers said in another interview, “It’s not so much what you say as how you say it.” And they certainly said it well.

If you enjoyed this article, you may also like our in-depth analysis of the lyrics and meaning behind other iconic songs,such asFleetwood Mac’s Everywhere: How a 1980s Hit Became a 21st Century Phenomenon. Stay tuned for more captivating explorations of music and its significance in our lives.

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