Dear Boy

Ram album artwork - Paul and Linda McCartneyWritten by: Paul and Linda McCartney
Recorded: 1, 9, 10, 12 March; 7 April 1971
Producer: Paul and Linda McCartney

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

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One of the highlights of Paul and Linda McCartney's 1971 album Ram, Dear Boy was a semi-autobiographical song about Linda's first marriage.

Paul 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 committed suicide 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.'
Paul McCartney
Mojo, 2001

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
Dear Boy

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.
Paul McCartney, 1971

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.

At the memorial service for Linda McCartney, held on 8 June 1998 at St Martin-in-the-Fields church in London, a number of songs were performed. 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.

2 responses on “Dear Boy

  1. Martin

    Thanks for the information. Great melody, rhythmic and harmonic invention, production, lyric, fine singing, all perfectly packaged. Should be much better known and appreciated than it is, like so many of McCartney’s outstanding solo pieces. Why on earth do we (especially in the UK) so undervalue this man? Maybe the answer is that we are spoiled brats 😉 Music pours out of him and over the decades he has given us so much that we suffer from quality-fatigue. His creativity covers so many eras and genres and personae that it’s difficult to identify the “essential Macca” . He becomes a gigantic blur. Maybe we “can’t see the trees for the forest”, to borrow his own lyric – or to borrow Lennon’s, “got to be good looking ’cause he’s so hard to see”. It gets difficult to identify him facilely (as we like to do with pop artists) by some few career-defining hits in a style, and we give up trying to box the whole colossal product, resorting to labels that give us a grip on some part of it . So there are several different McCartneys lauded/derided by different critical factions who, mostly, are looking in different directions and cannot hear one another. But in my opinion each of these McCartneys has its own enduring value (yes, Silly Love Songs, frogs and all) and the real Macca is bigger than them all. Of course he is still hugely successful but that only serves to increase the peculiar critical sniffiness that persists among the snobs of cool. As someone else said, “You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.”

  2. Water Falls

    I wonder if McCartney fans are aware of this blog, there is so little comment on Paul’s thread about his music, or maybe they feel that Lennon fans will come to bash any praise Paul may get.
    Anyway, I love this song too. In fact all the tunes on Ram are superb.

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