Mad About The Boy

Album: 50 Greatest Hits (1952)
Charted: 41

Songfacts®:

  • This Noël Coward composition, an ode to an unnamed film star, has become a standard. It was a personal favorite of Coward himself, and is one of his most well known and most performed numbers, very cleverly and unusually constructed melodically.
    "Mad About The Boy" first appeared in the 1932 revue Words And Music, and was recorded twice by Bea Lillie. A recording by Peter Greenwell as "a pin-stripe-suited businessman" for Set To Music was suppressed as "too daring" at the time. This version included an extra refrain.
    Although Coward denied ever recording the song himself, twenty years after his death, Alan Farley of the Noël Coward Society found what appeared to be an original disk in the possession of Joan Hirst, who had been Coward's secretary from 1949. After transferring it to cassette she and Farley agreed that it was indeed Coward singing on the record. Later, another copy came to light; a reliable source listed it as recorded in London on September 20, 1932. The record was in fact a test pressing for His Master's Voice which had been rejected for release.
  • "Mad About The Boy" has been covered by many artists – most of them women for obvious reasons - but the definitive recording is probably that made by Dinah Washington. There remains some speculation about the identity of the boy in question; one answer is that it was anyone you wanted it to be, a composite character of the leading men of the day, perhaps. There is though another possibility.
    The lyrics refer to the boy having "a gay appeal"; although the word gay did not become synonymous with homosexual for another three decades and more, according to the Encyclopedia Of Homosexuality, the phrase "gay cat" meaning "a homosexual boy" first appeared in print in 1933; and had obviously been in use some time before that. Noël Coward was homosexual, and had a wicked sense of humour, so it is quite likely that the song's title was an in-joke.
    Homosexuality between consenting adults was illegal in Britain up until the Wolfenden reforms of the mid 1960s, but even then Coward did not "come out", and regarded the "gay scene" with contempt. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 2
  • Quincy Jones, who went on to produce albums for Michael Jackson, George Benson and The Brothers Johnson, worked on this song.
  • In 1992, this was used in a famous Levis jeans advertisement where a young man on a hot hot summers day struggles through several gardens to jump into a pool wearing no shirt, but of course his jeans. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Pia - Copenhagen, Denmark

Comments: 1

  • Jennifer from Belfast, IrelandThe theme of the song could be because Noel Coward was gay and he was mad about the boys but very ashamed of it.
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