Song facts: This Boy

John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote This Boy in an attempt to create a song in the style of Smokey Robinson. McCartney has also cited the Teddy Bear's 1958 song To Know Him Is To Love Him as being a big influence on John's writing.

"This Boy was another hotel-bedroom song, twin beds, one afternoon somewhere; we had arrived around one o'clock. We had a couple of hours to kill, so we thought, Well, let's write one. Rather like the hotel where we wrote She Loves You. It's funny, I remember the room and the position of the beds: John and I sitting on twin beds, the G-Plan furniture, the British hotel with olive green and orange everywhere, that marvellous combination, the colours of vomit." - Paul McCartney
"There was a period when I thought I didn't write melodies, that Paul wrote those and I just wrote straight, shouting rock 'n' roll. But of course, when I think of some of my own songs - In My Life, or some of the early stuff, This Boy - I was writing melody with the best of them." - John Lennon
"We wanted to do a close-harmony thing, we liked harmonies and we were quite good at them. We used to do a close-harmony version of the Teddy Bears' To Know Her Is to Love Her, which was good for the versatility in the band. We weren't all rock 'n' roll...
We wrote it in two-part harmony and then put the third part in for George to sing; we'd never actually tried to write something like that. Nice middle, John sang that great, then we'd go back into the close-harmony thing." - Paul McCartney

Recording

This Boy features an intricate three part close harmony by John, Paul and George; a singing style they would also use on Yes It Is and Abbey Road's Because. 

On October 17th 1963, The Beatles recorded 15 takes of the song, eventually combining two takes into one for the final master. This Boy can be found on the Mono Masters and Past Masters collections of B-sides and singles.

Personnel

  • John Lennon – double-tracked vocal, acoustic guitar
  • Paul McCartney – double-tracked harmony vocal, bass
  • George Harrison – double-tracked harmony vocal, lead guitar
  • Ringo Starr – drums

This Boy in A Hard Day's Night

This Boy was later used in The Beatles first film. George Martin scored an instrumental track of the song for use with one of Ringo's scenes. The piece was called Ringo's Theme and featured on the US soundtrack to A Hard Day's Night.

"I had scored an instrumental version of This Boy as part of the background music, and I used it for the sequence where Ringo is wandering by the river. We called it 'Ringo's Theme', and it got into the charts in America as an orchestral record - that pleased me somewhat." - George Martin
George Harrison, John Lennon and Paul McCartney singing three part harmony, 1963. 

George Harrison, John Lennon and Paul McCartney singing three part harmony, 1963.