Boys is a song by Luther Dixon and Wes Farrell, originally performed by The Shirelles and released as the B-side of their "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" single on November 1960. It was covered by The Beatles and it was included on their first album released in the United Kingdom, Please Please Me (1963).
The Beatles version[edit | edit source]
The Beatles' version was recorded at Abbey Road Studios on February 11, 1963 in a single take, and is Ringo Starr's first recorded lead vocals with the Beatles; and, as the fifth track on the Beatles first album, Please Please Me, represents the first time many fans heard Starr on a lead vocal. February 11 was a marathon day for the Beatles as they recorded 10 of the 14 tracks they needed for Please Please Me. The band included two songs by the Shirelles on the first album: "Boys" and "Baby It's You".
The Beatles did not concern themselves about possible homosexual undertones that go with singing a song about boys, although they altered the gender pronouns employed on the Shirelles's version (i.e. "My girl says when I kiss her lips..."). In an October 2005 Rolling Stone interview, Paul McCartney stated: "Any one of us could hold the audience. Ringo would do 'Boys', which was a fan favorite with the crowd. And it was great - though of you think about it, here's us doing a song and it was really a girls' song. 'I talk about boys now!' Or it was a gay song. But we never even listened. It's just a great song. I think that's one of the things about youth - you just don't give a shit. I love the innocence of those days." (The lyrics talk specifically about boys kissing girls, not each other.)
McCartney also said: "Ringo always used to do a song in the show. Back then he had 'Boys'. It was a little embarrassing because it went, "I'm talking about boys - yeah, yeah - boys'. It was a Shirelles hit and they were girls singing it, but we never thought we should call it Girls, just because Ringo was a boy. We just sang it the way they sung it and never considered any implications." (Paul McCartney from Anthology).
"Boys" had always been the Beatles' 'drummer' song during their Cavern days - Pete Best sang it. "Boys" was main 'drummer' song until 1964. Coincidentally, Starr also sang this for his solo spot with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes; Cilla Black would sometimes join him on stage, sharing the same microphone. Best would release his own version of the song in 1965.
Their cover of the song is playable on The Beatles: Rock Band video game.
On February 9, 2014 Ringo sang and played the drums on "Boys" as part of the finale on the CBS 50th anniversary special of the Beatles' first Ed Sullivan appearance (February 9, 1964).
Personnel[edit | edit source]
- Ringo Starr: lead vocals, drums (1960 Premier 58/54 Mahogany)
- John Lennon: backing vocals, rhythm guitar (1958 Rickenbacker 325)
- Paul McCartney: backing vocals, bass guitar (1961 Hofner 500/1)
- George Harrison: backing vocals, lead guitar (1957 Gretsch Duo Jet)
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