- Published on 1963
- Author: Lennon/McCartney
- Track 11 on “Please Please Me“
JOHN 1980: “Well, I can’t say I wrote it ‘for’ George. My mother was always… she was a good comedienne and a singer. Not professional, but she used to get up in pubs and things like that. She had a good voice. She could do Kay Starr. She used to do this little tune when I was one or two years old… she was still living with me then. The tune was from a Disney movie: (sings) ‘Do you want to know a secret? Promise not to tell? You are standing by a wishing well.’ So, I had this sort of thing in my head, and I wrote it and just gave it to George to sing. I thought it would be a good vehicle for him, because it had only three notes and he wasn’t the best singer in the world. He has improved a lot since then; but in those days, his ability was very poor.”
PAUL 1984: “A song we really wrote for George to sing. Before he wrote his own stuff, John and I wrote things for him and Ringo to do.”
GEORGE 1994: “‘Do You Want To Know A Secret’ was my song on the album. I didn’t like the vocal on it. I didn’t know how to sing.”
About “Do You Want to Know a Secret”
“Do You Want to Know a Secret”, composed in autumn 1962 by John Lennon, was credited to “McCartney–Lennon” in the 1963 version by Billy J. Kramer with the Dakotas (a UK No. 2). The song was inspired by Lennon’s mother, Julia Lennon, who would sing to him as a child a charming tune from Walt Disney’s 1937 animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs known as “I’m Wishing”.
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…”).
As McCartney has stated, the song was a 50-50 collaboration written to order, i.e, for Harrison to sing. However, Lennon, who has always claimed ownership of the song, commented on it in a 1980 interview, saying that the moment he finished writing it, he realized that it was going to be perfect for Harrison to sing it.
Meaning of “Do You Want to Know a Secret”
The lyrics of “Do You Want to Know a Secret” suggest a desire to share something deeply personal and intimate with a loved one. It embodies the sentiment of wanting to reveal one’s innermost thoughts and feelings to strengthen the emotional connection.
The act of confiding a secret implies trust and a willingness to be vulnerable. This theme underscores the importance of trust in building and nurturing a strong romantic relationship. It speaks to the idea that sharing secrets fosters a deeper sense of intimacy: revealing a secret can create a unique bond between two people. The narrator offers his secret as a token of his affection, suggesting that it is a gift that signifies the depth of his feelings.
“Do You Want to Know a Secret” captures the youthful innocence and simplicity of early romance. The secret shared is likely not a profound or complex revelation, but it holds significance because of the trust and intimacy involved. This theme is characteristic of many early Beatles songs. Sharing a secret implies a level of understanding and connection between two individuals. It’s an indication that the narrator believes the recipient of the secret will appreciate its significance and hold it dear. The act of offering a secret can be viewed as an endearing way to express love and affection. It shows a willingness to be open and transparent, which are important aspects of any healthy and loving relationship.
In summary, “Do You Want to Know a Secret” is a tender and sweet song that emphasizes the importance of trust, intimacy, and mutual understanding in romantic relationships. It captures the innocence and simplicity of early love, and highlights the significance of sharing personal thoughts and feelings as a means of deepening emotional connections.
- George Harrison – lead vocals, acoustic guitar (right channel)
- John Lennon – acoustic guitar (left channel), backing vocals
- Paul McCartney – bass guitar, backing vocals
- Ringo Starr – drums, tapped drumsticks