John Lennon drew inspiration from a classic Disney song when he penned The Beatles’ “Do You Want to Know a Secret.” Subsequently, he let George Harrison sing the song. John explained why he wanted George to perform “Do You Want to Know a Secret” when the track wasn’t initially meant for the quiet Beatle.
How 1 of Walt Disney’s films inspired The Beatles’ ‘Do You Want to Know a Secret’
The book All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono records an interview from 1980. In the book, John discusses many Beatles songs. He said he once lived in an apartment used by The Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein. There, John wrote “Do You Want to Know a Secret.” The track was inspired by a song John’s mother used to sing.
“She used to do this little tune when I was just a one- or two-year-old … yeah, she was still living with me then,” he recalled. “The tune was from the Disney movie — [sings] ‘Want to know a secret? Promise not to tell. You are standing by a wishing well.'” The song in question was “I’m Wishing” from Walt Disney‘s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
John Lennon thought George Harrison should sing the song because he wasn’t a great vocalist
John explained why George sang the song. “So, I had this sort of thing in my head and I wrote it and just gave it to George to sing,” John said. “I thought it would be a good vehicle for him because it only had three notes and he wasn’t the best singer in the world.”
John revealed what he currently thought of George’s voice. “He has improved a lot since then, but in those days his singing ability was very poor because (a) he hadn’t had the opportunity, and (b) he concentrated more on the guitar,” he opined. “So I wrote that — not for him as I was writing it, but when I had written it, I thought he could do it. It was just written.”
The way ‘Do You Want to Know a Secret’ performed in the United States and the United Kingdom
“Do You Want to Know a Secret” became a hit in the United States. The song peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, staying on the chart for 11 weeks. “Do You Want to Know a Secret” appeared on The Beatles’ album Please Please Me. The album reached No. 155 for one week on the Billboard 200.
According to The Official Charts Company, “Do You Want to Know a Secret” did not chart in the United Kingdom. For 30 weeks, Please Please Me topped the chart in the U.K. Please Please Me stayed on the chart for 70 weeks in total.
With George’s vocals, “Do You Want a Secret” became a hit even if it wasn’t initially meant for the quiet Beatle.