Released: 21 May 1971 (UK), 17 May 1971 (US)
Paul McCartney: vocals, electric guitar, bass guitar, piano, percussion
Linda McCartney: backing vocals
David Spinozza/Hugh McCracken: guitar
Denny Seiwell: drums, percussion
Paul Beaver, Philip Davis: synthesizers
Jim Guercio: backing vocals
Paul McCartney wrote it about Joseph Melvin See Jr, whom Linda had married on 18 June 1962. They had a daughter together, Heather Louise, but divorced in June 1965. See took his own life in March 2000 at his home in Tucson, Arizona.
Despite this, John Lennon thought the song, like others on Ram, was written with him in mind, an interpretation McCartney later refuted.
Dear Boy wasn’t getting at John, ‘Dear Boy’ was actually a song to Linda’s ex-husband: ‘I guess you never knew what you had missed.’ I never told him that, which was lucky, because he’s since committed suicide. And it was a comment about him, ’cause I did think, ‘Gosh, you know, she’s so amazing, I suppose you didn’t get it.’
A significant portion of the song, however, was clearly written about Paul and Linda’s relationship, and the relief he felt at having someone’s help in the dark months following The Beatles’ break-up.
I stepped in, my heart was down and out
But her love came through and brought me round,
Got me up and about
The lyrics are among the most direct by McCartney, a songwriter who often shrouds his feelings in opaque metaphors or symbolism. In a 1971 interview he admitted that the words were autobiographical.
‘Dear Boy’ was my attempt at an autobiography about myself and how lucky I was to have Linda. I never realised how lucky I was to have her until I began writing the song.
‘Dear Boy’ was recorded over five separate sessions at Sound Recorders Studios in Los Angeles, in March and April 1971. It was the penultimate song to be recorded during the Ram sessions; only ‘Dear Friend’ was taped afterwards, but was left off the album.
A memorial service for Linda McCartney was held on 8 June 1998 at St Martin-in-the-Fields church in London. The Brodsky Quartet played a series of songs written by Paul for his wife: they were ‘Golden Earth Girl’, ‘Dear Boy’, ‘Calico Skies’, and ‘My Love’.