Song facts: Do You Want to Know a Secret

Released on The Beatles' debut album Please Please Me, and as a single in the US on March 23rd, 1964; the song was written by John Lennon and given to George Harrison. John drew inspiration from a Disney tune his mother Julia used to sing when he was very young.

The song was a hit for Billy J Kramer and The Dakotas, also managed by Brian Epstein. The Dakotas reached the top of the UK Singles Chart, but The Beatles version failed to reach the top spot in the US; peaking at number 2. It featured Thank You Girl as the B-side.

"My mother was always... she was a comedienne and a singer. Not professional, but, you know, she used to get up in pubs and things like that. She had a good voice. She could do Kay Starr. She used to do this little tune when I was just a one- or two-year-old... yeah, she was still living with me then... The tune was from the Disney movie - 'Want to know a secret? Promise not to tell. You are standing by a wishing well.'
So, I had this sort of thing in my head and I wrote it and just gave it to George to sing. I thought it would be a good vehicle for him because it only had three notes and he wasn't the best singer in the world. He has improved a lot since then, but in those days his singing ability was very poor because (a) he hadn't had the opportunity, and (b) he concentrated more on the guitar. So I wrote that - not for him as I was writing it, but when I had written it, I thought he could do it. It was just written." - John Lennon
"Do You Want To Know A Secret was 'my song' on the album. I didn't like my vocal on it. I didn't know how to sing; nobody told me how to." - George Harrison
Do You Want to Know a Secret, single sleeve 1964.

Do You Want to Know a Secret, single sleeve 1964.

Recording

The song was recorded on February 11th, 1963, in a bumper recording session that saw The Beatles record 10 of the 14 songs on Please Please Me. 

Personnel

  • George Harrison – lead vocals, lead guitar
  • John Lennon – acoustic guitar, backing vocals
  • Paul McCartney – bass, backing vocals
  • Ringo Starr – drums, percussion