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This Boy

by

The Beatles



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

John Lennon wrote this song. One of his early compositions, it is seemingly simple, but very clever. The song contains only a few notes, but the space between the notes is filled by the arrangements. It's the same technique you hear in Liszt's "Liebestraum," the piano piece in Schumann's Davidsbündlertänze and in Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata."
This was the first Beatles composition that was commented on by a music critic. William Mann wrote in The London Times December 27, 1963, that the song had "pendiatonic clusters." (thanks to Johan Cavalli, who is a music historian in Stockholm, for above 2)
George Harrison: "It was John (Lennon) trying to do Smokey (Robinson)."
The vocals were a three part harmony sung by Harrison, Lennon and McCartney.
The Beatles performed this on their second Ed Sullivan Show appearance - Feb 16, 1964. They played six songs on the show that night, and this provided a slow change of pace from the uptempo songs like "She Loves You" and "I Want To Hold Your Hand." The Beatles were just beginning their breakthrough in America and got a huge audience from the show.
This was used in Ringo's big scene in The Beatles movie A Hard Day's Night. The version used in the film is an instrumental renamed "Ringo's Theme (This Boy)," and without any harmony singing.
This was one of the first songs on which The Beatles used a 4-track recorder. (thanks, Jes - Mason City, IA)
Artists to cover this song include Tom Baxter, David Bowie, Sean Lennon, George Martin, Delbert McClinton and The Nylons. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
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Comments (32):

One of the great songs to slow dance to at the Friday night school dance.
- Don, Willoughby, OH
This was the first Beatles song that made me realise that Lennon/McCartney were here to stay as songwriters.......and to think it was only a B side.
- Roy, Slough, United Kingdom
This is an absolutely perfect song for a wonderfully loving cat I had the extreme pleasure of knowing from 1988-93, but who most unfortunately wasn't allowed to have any friends. All the love that cat had to give, she could have easily had a fan club all over Princeton. The only animal I've ever met who actually understood the phrase, "I love you." I'm no Einstein, Princeton notwithstanding, but it is humanly impossible to be as stupid as that cat's owner, or should I say warden, thinks I am. I don't know how she stayed so loving being stuck with someone so heartlessly unreasonable. Suffice to say, if you ever met him, you'd know why I'll take a heart over a brain any day. (Twice he sent the police after me. I guess that means that if I post a comment about a Police song, he'll send the Beatles after me.) And so I dedicate "This Boy" to a truly awesome cat who deserved a whole lot better.
-Harry Casper, Princeton, NJ
- Steve, Princeton, NJ
Lennon's This Boy was a number one hit in Canada.
Lennon's I Should Have Known Better was a number one hit in Norway 1964.
Lennon's If I Fell was number one in Norway.
Lennon's Do You Want to Know a Secret was number one in US.
Lennon's Nowhere Man was number one in Australia and Canada 1966.
When the Beatles number one are listed, these songs are never listed, but all McCartney's. George Martin and McCartney never get PR to these songs.
- Johan, Stockholm, Sweden
This is one of my favourite Beatles songs. I know it's not meant to be a love song but it has an old-school charm to it that I find youthful and romantic.
- Leigh, Cape Town, South Africa
Easily one of their best 3 part harmonies. It actually had some pretty deep lyrics ,for it's time. Hell yeah John could really belt out a song. You could detect the Elvis and Chuck Berry influence. Saw a clip of this from Ed Sullivan on the George biography. Man those guys were confident and proficient at their music.
- meocyber, alma, CO
I can't get this song out of my head! My friends were calling me The Mad Hatter today because I was going around singing it when I'm a chick!
- Breanna, Henderson, NV
`THIS BOY`, Again let me Point Out the `TRUE` Version, regarding this song,No 1-It was Written by John Lennon, No 2-The Song had `NOTHING` to do with `Pete Best`Being Ousted for `Ringo Starr`as stated by (Steve,Fenton, MO),No3- It was Written Around the Standard doo-wop Chord Changes that had fuelled Hundreds of Hit Records in the 50s,No4- It was a `THREE PART`Harmony,(but dubbed)to make it More Appealing, and if you Listen Very Carefuly, you will Hear It,also `George Harrison`on his 12 String Guitar, which had to be Overdubbed, to be Able To Keep Up The Backing, (try playing a 12 string, by itself) You wont get `Near To That Backing Sound`, thats on the Record,5-The Beatles Regretted Years Later, releasing it as a B-Side to `I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND`, as they Never Thought It Was Going To Be Such A Succesful Song,Its Beautiful,Thanks You
- samuel, kilsyth, United Kingdom
On television shows where the Beatles were not allowed to lip-sync, John always had a tough time reaching the notes during the line "Oh My-ey-ey". You can see in his facial expression if he thought he reached it or flubbed it.
- Ken, Louisville, KY
God, I love this song. It's so beautiful, but it's bittersweet. The Beatles are the most talented boys ever, hands down. RIP John and Georgie - when are we ever going to stop missing you?
- Lennix, hamburg, Germany
I saw time ago a telefilm, were a girl band sing a female version of the song,they sung "This Girl", any one know what kind of band was, sorry my english Nicola, Roma, Italy
- nicola, Roma, Italy
When music students are studying harmony, they should just listen to this song over and over. And God, does John ever belt it out during the solo part!!!! Wow!!
- Jeff, Austin, TX
I love the middle of this song "This boy would be happy..." etc. Have you noticed that the Beatles were good at writing relatively soft songs where the singer begins to yell in the middle? Examples: This Boy, Yes it Is, I've Got a Feeling, Golden Slumbers, Paul McCartney's Maybe I'm Amazed, and others. It works for them to great effect though.
- Forrest, Rochester, MN
I agree with Rich from N.J. the vocal harmony is what makes this song stand out,not to mention a beautiful melody.Great rhythm guitars.A very strong ballad.
- George, Belleville, NJ
How can someone say that the instrumental version
was better than the recorded version.The Vocals in "This Boy" were nothing short of a "10"
Rich Wall N.J.
- Rich, Spring Lake Hgts, NJ
I think The Smithereens did a decent job of covering this song and all the others on their tribute album "Meet The Smithereens"
- Carl, ST LOUIS, MO
This song was on the Capitol record "Meet The Beatles" which was released in the USA but is not on the 1st or 2nd UK releases "With The Beatles" or "Please Please Me".
- Carl, ST LOUIS, MO
Beautiful song. Love the middle eight vocals. John could sing with the most emotion of any singer of his time
- John, Woburn, MA
This Boy never refers to a she, although it's clearly implied. The "(Ringo's Theme)" part of the title is a clue. I think the song is a disquised adolescent dig at Pete Best. The lyrics are directed from Pete Best's point of view begging the Beatles to give him a second chance, that Ringo was bad for them. So Pete is actually "This Boy", Ringo is "That Boy", and the implied girl in the song is "The Beatles". But the song lyrics are written in enough of a general way to also pass as a love song, and that's the clever part of it.
- Steve, Fenton, MO
You do sound nice on your song John! This boy is a wonderful song with it's own charactar
- Bram, Zoetermeer, Netherlands
I really like this song a lot. Franz Ferdinand had a song called "This Boy" but it was not a cover. But that is just a different story.
- Alisa, Franklin, WI
John's biological mother Julia, a bit of a party gal, encouraged him to play guitar while Aunt Mimi strongly discouraged him, once famously saying something like, "You'll never pay the bills playing the guitar, John!"
- fyodor, Denver, CO
OMG i love this song...me and my friend(we are idiots by the way) made up our own lyrics for this.....only the song was called fatboy
- kelly, woodstock, Canada
when they filmed the scene of ringo walking along the river in the movie he was extremely hung over. he had been up all night partying when he had to be on the set really early in the morning. if you look at the expression on his face you can see he looks like he feels. I got this from an interview he did about doing the movie
- mike, levittown, NY
I think "This Boy (Ringo's theme)" is about Ringo in a way. But Ringo is not "this boy". Ringo is "that boy". "This boy" is a pleading Pete Best begging the Beatles to take him back. John could be quite cruel with his humor and rather than leaving poor Pete alone, was making fun of him in this song.
- Steve, Fenton, MO
The instrumental was better than the vocal version
- Benjamin, Cheverly, MD
This song is also titled "This Boy (Ringo's Theme)" per his Hard Day's Night solo appearance.
- Alan, City, MI
John was raised by his Aunt (Mimi). She was the older sister of Julia, John's biological mother. John did start to build a relationship with his mother when he was 16 years of age. She was run over by a drunk driver when he was 18 years old.
- The Great Wok, Longview, TX
I didn't know that story about lennon's mother, its quite sad. Though i thought that john lived with his grandmother during his childhood and rarely saw his mum.
- Natasha, Chico, CA
This was John's first attempt at recording a ballad and it shows how well John, Paul, and George can harmonize. The song "This Boy" expresses John's feelings regarding the physical abuse that his mother, Julia, was receiving from her common-in-law husband, John Dykins. The song was most likely written shortly after Julia had visited her older sister Mimi one night, battered, bruised, and crying. Dykins had beaten the crap out of her again. Although young John Lennon was in the house at the time of Julia's visit and listened to her cries, he didn't come forward to acknowledge his presence or hers.
- The Great Wok, Longview, TX
i love the part of a hard day's night when they sing this song... i had never heard it before. and yes, if you check i've posted messages on a bunch of songs but i really do wanna talk to another teen who likes the beatles...
- Liliana, Huntley, IL
"This Boy" was the B-side to "I Want To Hold Your Hand" only on the single released in the UK. It wasn't released on a single in the U.S.
- Jeff, Boston, MA
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