‘Young Boy’ was the lead single released from Paul McCartney’s tenth solo album Flaming Pie.

‘Young Boy’ was another of these ‘set yourself an arbitrary deadline’ goal. In fact, it started to be just a ‘Poor Boy’. ‘Just a poor boy looking for a way to find love’. The ‘Poor Boy’ reminded me like an old Elvis song and ‘Poor Boy’ just had too many connotations. So ‘Young Boy’ was better, I liked the word better, ‘Young Boy’.

And I started making up this song, you know, just thinking about all the young people I know who are in that position, who are just starting off on a romance or starting to find their partner or whatever. And I just became a subject, you know, I remember it well enough myself. ‘Looking for a way to find love’… I mean I remember this whole process of finding out somebody who’s for me. But how am I ever going to meet her? Just 300,000,000 of them. It’s very perplexing at that age – fingers crossed – that’s all you can do.

Paul McCartney
Flaming Pie Radio Special

The song was written in America on 18 August 1994.

This was another song written when I’d set myself an arbitrary deadline. We were in Long Island and Linda was cooking with Pierre Franey for a New York Times article. I had taken my guitar, and was sitting around in a nearby room when a song came up. It wrote itself: I was thinking about all the young people I know, and remembering my own early days. There’s a funny side story to this: I left the room after I finished writing the song and when I went back in there a few minutes later I got a shock because a girl was lying on the couch. She’d been there all the time, and I hadn’t seen her.
Paul McCartney
Club Sandwich, Summer 1997

In the studio

‘Young Boy’ was recorded on 22 February 1995 at Steve Miller’s studio in Sun Valley, Idaho.

I hadn’t seen Steve Miller since one night at Olympic Studios in 1969, when there was an unfortunate business meeting and a Beatles session broke down. On the spur of the moment Steve and I had got together and by about three or four in the morning we’d done ‘My Dark Hour’ together, which he released on his next album. I played it recently to my son James, who’s interested in finding out what his Dad did back then, and he liked it. He even liked my drumming, although it’s a little bit heavy on the tom-toms. So that reminded me of Steve, I called him up, we got our friendship going again, I told him I had a song and reckoned we could do it well together and he invited me out to his studio in Idaho. We had a great time there, hanging out and recording. Working with him again was like falling back into a pleasant old habit. Steve’s tough to produce because he’s a great perfectionist, but I just told him to whack up the guitar. I love his guitar playing.
Paul McCartney
Club Sandwich, Summer 1997

I invited him over to my studio and we recorded ‘Young Boy’ which was really a lot of fun. It was really a neat trip for me because it was completely different than anything than I would normally play and record. And so I got to play lead on top of, you know, some different changes and stuff and singing some different kinds of harmonies it was really fun. For me, it’s sort of like being around Mozart or something. It’s a remarkable experience because Paul is so talented. He plays drums, he plays bass, he plays guitar, and he was in the Beatles, a great band… And he writes classical music and he’s just an amazingly creative person to be around. He’s absolutely pleasant, very polite, really fun to work with, and we have nothing but a good time every time we get together.
Steve Miller
Flaming Pie Radio Special

‘Young Boy’ was completed at McCartney’s Hog Hill Mill studio over two days in March 1995.

Paul McCartney’s handwritten lyrics for Young Boy

The release

‘Young Boy’ was released as a single on 28 April 1997, ahead of the Flaming Pie album.

This was McCartney’s first single to not be released on 7″ black vinyl, although a picture disc was issued with ‘Looking For You’ on the b-side.

Two CD singles were issued in the UK. The first had ‘Young Boy’, ‘Looking For You’, and ‘Oobu Joobu’ (Part 1), while the second had ‘Young Boy’, ‘Broomstick’, and ‘Oobu Joobu’ (Part 2). The ‘Oobu Joobu’ tracks contained a mix of demos, interviews, and unreleased song snippets, and shared a title with McCartney’s 1995 radio show on Westwood One.

CD1 was also released in Australia. A Japanese CD single was also issued, and contained ‘Young Boy’ and ‘Looking For You’.

‘Young Boy’ reached number three in Spain, and was a top 20 hit in Belgium, Norway, and the UK, where it peaked at 19.

It was not issued in the US, where Capitol opted instead for ‘The World Tonight’.

There were two videos for ‘Young Boy’. One was directed by Geoff Wonfor, who also directed The Beatles’ Anthology series. The other was by Alistair Donald, who was then married to McCartney’s daughter Mary.

Live performances

Paul McCartney performed the song live on just three occasions. The first was a mini acoustic concert on the roof of MPL on Soho Square, London, where he played ‘Young Boy’ followed by ‘The World Tonight’.

The second performance was on TFI Friday on UK TV on 27 June 1997. McCartney and his band performed ‘Flaming Pie’ and ‘Young Boy’, and the show was broadcast live.

The final version was for The Oprah Winfrey Show on 20 November, which was broadcast four days later. McCartney played ‘Young Boy’, ‘Flaming Pie’, and ‘Lady Madonna’.

Previous song: ‘Somedays’
Next song: ‘Calico Skies’
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