Do You Want to Know a Secret? – Page of Cups
Please Please Me, 1963
“Do You Want to Know a Secret?” was written by John, shortly after getting married to Cynthia. He soon recognized the simple melody was well-suited for George’s vocal range. John said later that the idea for the song came from “I’m Wishing”, a tune John’s mother used to sing to him from Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. According to George, a primary musical influence on the song was “I Really Love You” by The Stereos, which can easily be heard in the harmonies.
“Do You Want to Know a Secret?” is notable for several reasons. One, it set the template for George to sing two songs per album, one per side. Second, this became the first tune sung by George that became a radio hit, reaching #2 on the Billboard chart in the US. And finally, this was the first song credited to Lennon/McCartney that became a hit for another artist when Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas got to #1 with it in the UK. It’s only their first album and already the Lennon/McCartney songwriting partnership is plentiful enough to share!
The Beatles had a wholesome image in 1963, an image carefully cultivated by manager Brian Epstein. And while the band members were still very young – George had just turned 20 when Please Please Me was released – they were certainly not naïve. Over the previous few years they’d played hundreds of shows in the seedy red light district of Hamburg, Germany. They’d seen a lot and done a lot. Nonetheless, “Do You Want to Know a Secret?” conformed nicely to the clean image Brian wanted for his “boys”.
The song is a simple message of love, whispered softly into the ear of a sweetheart. This makes the tarot’s Page of Cups a perfect fit. A tarot deck contains four Pages (sometimes portrayed as Princesses), one for each suit. Each Page represents a youthful or unrefined expression of the suit’s element. With Cups being the suit of element Water, the Page of Cups symbolizes youthful or fledgling expressions of the heart. The playful romantic sentiment of “Do You Want to Know a Secret?” is a perfect expression of this spirit.
It was a theme the Beatles returned to often in their early recordings. In those days, one of the few subjects a rock and roll group sang about was love. And the only way deemed acceptable to express that love was sweetly and innocently. Much would change in a few short years!
“Listen, do you want to know a secret?
Do you promise not to tell?
Let me whisper in your ear
Say the words you long to hear
I’m in love with you, ooh”
This is song #55 of the Beatles Song Tarot Project. Click here to learn more about this magical, mystical trip through the Beatles catalogue.