“Do You Want to Know a Secret?” is a song by the Beatles from the 1963 album Please Please Me, sung by George Harrison. In the United States, it was the first top ten song to feature Harrison as a lead singer, reaching #2 on the Billboard chart in 1964 as a single released by Vee-Jay, VJ 587. The song reached the #1 position on Billboard in 1981 and #2 in the United Kingdom in a cover by Stars on 45 as part of a medley.
“Do You Want to Know a Secret?” was primarily written by John Lennon, but credited to McCartney-Lennon. The song was inspired by “I’m Wishing”, a tune from Walt Disney’s 1937 animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs which Lennon’s mother, Julia Lennon, would sing to him as a child. The first two lines of the song in Disney’s movie (“Want to know a secret? Promise not to tell?”) come right after the opening lyrics (“You’ll never know how much I really love you… You’ll never know how much I really care…”). Paul McCartney said it was a “50-50 written to order”, i.e. for George Harrison to sing.
In 1980, Lennon said that he gave “Do You Want To Know A Secret” to Harrison to sing “because” it only had three notes and he wasn’t the best singer in the world”, but added, “he has improved a lot since then.” Harrison sang two songs on Please Please Me, this song by Lennon-McCartney and “Chains” by Goffin/King. The Beatles did not record a song composed solely by Harrison until “Don’t Bother Me” on With the Beatles.
The song was recorded during a ten-hour session on February 11, 1963, along with nine other songs on Please Please Me.
On August 23, 1962, Cynthia discovered she was pregnant. Brian Epstein gave them a ground floor he rented at 36 Fauikner Street to start their married life. While living at 36 Fauikner Street, John wrote this song. The secret that's in question is that he is really in love. Just like "Please Please Me," this song had its genesis, that it was a song his mother used to sing to him; his mother had picked up from Walt Disney's 1937 film, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." The song in the film John's mother had picked up was called "I'm Wishing," by Larry Morey and Frank Churchill. George Harrison later revealed in an interview with Musician Magazine that the musical inspiration for the song came from "I Really Love You," a 1961 hit by the Stereos.
Single release Edit
"Do You Want To Know A Secret" was released a year later as a single by Vee-Jay in the United States on March 23, 1964, reaching the number two spot behind another Beatles song "Can't Buy Me Love" in Billboard, reaching number three on the Cash Box chart, but reaching number one for two weeks in the chart published by the Teletheatre Research Institute.
- George Harrison: Lead Vocals, Lead Guitar (1962 Gibson J-160E)
- John Lennon: Rhythm Guitar (1962 Gibson J-160E), Backing Vocals
- Paul McCartney: Bass Guitar (1961 Hofner 500/1), Backing Vocals
- Ringo Starr: Drums (1960 Premeir 58/54 Mahogany), Sticks
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