When I hear this song, it reminds me of just how great the Beatles were at songwriting and harmonizing. My all time favorite rock singers includes John Lennon…this song demonstrates why. His voice could cut through anything and is always sharp…and has been widely imitated but it wasn’t liked by John himself who notoriously wanted it covered up on recordings.
The song was on Meet The Beatles…the first Beatle album I ever listened to. The vocals were a three part harmony sung by Harrison, Lennon and McCartney. The song was written by Lennon and McCartney.
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 “pandiatonic clusters.” Musicians and parents who knew something about music knew there was something more than just hair with this band. The songs they were hearing were more sophisticated than the regular pop songs at the time.
Capitol of Canada released a couple of unique singles of their own creation in early 1964 to capitalize on the success of Beatlemania in that country. The second of which was “All My Loving” paired with “This Boy” as its flip side.
The song peaked at #1 in Canada and #53 in the Billboard 100.
John Lennon: “Just my attempt at writing one of those three-part harmony Smokey Robinson songs,”
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.”
George Harrison: “It was John (Lennon) trying to do Smokey (Robinson).”
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.
Artists to cover this song include Tom Baxter, David Bowie, Sean Lennon, George Martin, Delbert McClinton and The Nylons
George taking a stroll down memory lane:
Took my love away
Though he’ll regret it someday
But this boy wants you back again
Isn’t good for you
Though he may want you, too
This boy wants you back again
Oh, and this boy would be happy
Just to love you, but oh my
That boy won’t be happy
‘Til he’s seen you cry
Wouldn’t mind the pain
Would always feel the same
If this boy gets you back again
This boy, this boy, this boy