I was watching the Grammy 50th Anniversary Beatles program and toward the end both Ringo and Paul perform solo. During Ringo’s bit he gets up on the drum kit and sings ‘Boys’, but before he does he makes a comment to the effect that he never ‘did’ this song with the Beatles, but performed it while he was with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes.
Didn’t Ringo sing ‘Boys’ on the ‘Please Please Me’ album or is my memory faulty? I forgive him for not remembering every song he recorded, but the editors could have edited out his incorrect comment… or am I missing something here?
I think so. The way I heard it, Ringo said he sang “Boys” with Rory Storm first and then brought it with him to The Beatles.
As for bienville’s speculation, Ringo sang “Boys” many, many times during The Beatles’ live performances…going back when he first took over for Pete Best (who had previously sung the song himself) in August 1962 and continuing throughout their 1963 and 1964 concert appearances.
Perhaps you know this already, but for those who don’t, The Beatles’ version of “Boys” was a cover of a song originally sung by a girl group, The Shirelles.
Doubtless the song was seen by The Beatles (and Rory Storm and the Hurricanes before them) as just a good rockin’ number that makes a general statement, as opposed to being sung to members of either sex.
The Beatles covered several other girl group songs:
“Please Mr. Postman” – The Marvelettes
“Devil in Her (His) Heart” – The Donays
“Chains” –The Cookies
“Baby It’s You” – The Shirelles again
Yes, but the rest of those songs (like many love songs) are not really sex-specific. They make sense (maybe with minor pronoun changes) both when sung by a woman about a man or men, or by a man about a woman or women. “Boys” is not like that at all. In fact, sung by a man, it comes across as distinctly, even flamboyantly, gay.
This, of course, makes Ringo the pioneer of gender bending in rock, long before the likes of David Bowie and Alice Cooper made it a big thing. (In between, The Who had done “I’m a Boy” and The Kinks had done “Lola”, but neither of those songs had the singer really “owning” a gay identity, the way that Ringo did with “Boys”.)
If only it were a better song, Ringo (who, AFAIK is entirely straight) might have become a gay rights icon!
Nonsense. Not a soul who was around in 1963-64 on either side of the Atlantic gave this interpretation a thought…it’s imposed entirely in retrospect — rather like those who seem to want very badly to make “Jailhouse Rock” a gay song because they can’t grasp the notion of a county jail that might house both male and female prisoners.
The same “pronoun changes” you speak of were made in “Boys,” too: “My girl says when I kiss her lips…” How does this line in Ringo’s version square with your gay interpretation?
Nonetheless, I still think it was an odd choice. Why not change the name to “girls” – or just pick a different song? If it weren’t for the actual chronology, I’d have guessed Brian Epstein would have had a hand in this.
The Beatles were a cover band - like most Liverpool bands back then. They played whatever rock, pop, British show tunes or whatever they could to, as they were instructed in Hamburg, “mak show” - entertain the paying customers. You change some bits where you can, but you can’t lose the essential nature of the song - and it is a song called Boys. Ringo rocks it.
My cover-band girl singer sang a bunch of men’s songs - it just happens. I sing The Pretenders’ Middle of the Road - including the last line of the last verse “I’m not the kind I used to be - I’ve got a kid, I’m thirty-three, baby!” Trust me - I’m not close to 33 anymore, either
No, I wasn’t going for a joke when I said I found it an odd choice by them (I was being silly when I mentioned Epstein).
I am aware as you are of the cultural context. It still feels just slightly strange to me. I know that’s MY issue – obviously, it WASN’T strange to them. Maybe my puzzlement is partly because of the INTERNAL inconsistency of changing some words for gender purposes, even in a song title (“Devil…”), but not this one.